The Great Kung Lao is a character occasionally referenced in the game series and featured in the television show Mortal Kombat: Conquest as the show’s protagonist. He is the ancestor of the present-day Kung Lao, Kung Jin and Liu Kang.
About the Great Kung Lao
Being the first person on Earthrealm to represent the Order of Light in Mortal Kombat, he would do battle with the evil sorcerer and shapeshifter Shang Tsung (500 years before Liu Kang would do the same). As champion, Lao could not age.
Despite Tsung having the advantage of winning nine consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments, The Great Kung Lao defeated him and became Grand Champion, saving Earthrealm in the process. While it is common for the victor to take his opponent's life, Kung Lao spared the sorcerer.
Fifty years later, Shang Tsung, the now-old man he spared half a century before, had corrupted the tournament. Kung Lao was defeated by Goro, the Shokan prince. Afterwards, his soul was taken by Tsung, an event that would lead up to the events of the first arcade game.
Kung Lao's ending in Mortal Kombat (2011) states that he is the reincarnation of the Great Kung Lao. He learns this after touching his "ancestor's" tombstone and being filled with his memories. He was reincarnated so that he could avenge his failings. As this has never been brought up in the main storyline it's unknown whether or not it's canon.
In the comics, he appears as a person in his 30s. He wears a maroon red bandana and spiked wristbands. He also wears traditional Kung Fu red pants along with tabi shoes and a yellow sash.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest
In Mortal Kombat: Conquest, the Great Kung Lao is portrayed by Paolo Montalban. While Conquest was not part of the canon storyline the Mortal Kombat games follow, it nevertheless was immensely popular among the fan community, as he was mentioned in the first movie.
Kung Lao was raised in the Order of Light, a monastery of Shaolin Monks. While he lived happily with his family and friends, Kung Lao prepared for his entire life to fight in Mortal Kombat. He was trained thoroughly under the monastery's phenomenal martial artists, teaching him moves many would think impossible. All of Kung Lao's training made him undeniably the monastery's best fighter.
After leaving the monastery, Kung Lao established himself in the trading post of Zhu Zin, that was owned by the Reylands. Living with him were two other strong fighters, Jen's former bodyguard Siro, and the former thief Taja. Kung Lao made his living by fighting against the Outworld murderers and all those who threatened those he cared about. But every day, he also lived with two big regrets: the untimely death of his beloved Jen, and the mercy he showed to the miserable sorcerer Shang Tsung.
A master of martial arts from the Order of Light, Kung Lao's fighting prowess is unmatched by Earthrealm's inhabitants.
Mortal Kombat 11
- "Where did you-- Who? Who are you?"
- "God of--"
- "Forgive my disrespect, my Lord!"
- "The Kung Lao you knew?"
- "Trained? For what?"
- Defeated Shang Tsung to become Champion of Mortal Kombat.
- 50 years later, he was defeated and killed by Goro, and Shang Tsung took his soul.
- His soul was freed after the death of Shang Tsung in the fight against Onaga, the Dragon King.
- Can be summoned by Kung Lao to assist in battle.
- In Conquest, in the first episode of the series he is seen wearing his descendant's MK3 costume.
- His appearance in Mortal Kombat (2011) is nearly identical to his appearance in the Mortal Kombat comics drawn by John Tobias.
- It is unknown if his bandana and spiked wristbands have any relation to the pieces Liu Kang uses. Liu Kang started using the outfit after his first win in Mortal Kombat.
- In Mortal Kombat 11, his spirit can be summoned by Kung Lao.
- Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath marks the first time the Great Kung Lao appears physically outside flashblacks in the game series.