—Kano after ripping out Reptile's heart
The mononymous leader of the Black Dragon and a ruthless, vulgar, loud mouthed scoundrel, Kano was a mercenary on the run before his capture by Sonya Blade. After stealing a Dragon Marking off a target Sonya was tracking, Kano inadvertently became an Earthrealm champion, unknown to him that the forces of Outworld have come to kill him before the traditional Mortal Kombat Tournament can begin.
He first meets Cole Young after Cole finds Sonya, sitting in the dark cuffed to a chair while spouting obscenities at his new acquaintance for being too curious about his last name. The three are attacked by Reptile not long after, which Kano uses to his advantage: as Reptile was laying in wait on the ceiling, his acidic saliva began to drip to the ground, which Kano disintegrates his cuffs with. Kano is then the one to execute Reptile, tearing out his heart while saying "Kano wins" and declaring Reptile's still-beating heart to be "a beauty". He later sketches a drawing of his rendition of the execution, saying he fancies himself an artist. He also sketches a drawing of himself and Sonya labelled "LOVE SONYA" at an unknown time, which is stuck to Sonya's dartboard with a knife keeping it in place.
Now freed, Kano attempts to walk free to Raiden's temple as he reveals he alone knows the location from his gunrunning activities. However, Sonya manages to convince him to stay and bring herself and Cole as well under the guise that she will pay him a non-existent $3,000,000 and allow him to loot anything he wants from it. After this, he spits on a gnome statue in Sonya's yard and presumably readies himself to board his friend's plane with the others. After landing, he wonders why Sonya has come along, and picks a fight with her, which she easily wins, although she spares his life, to which Kano says the reason why she does not have a marking is because she is not "mongrel" enough.
Upon reaching the temple, they are greeted by Liu Kang, who Kano attempts to attack. However, he is quickly dispatched by Liu Kang's fireball, which gives him a great desire to learn his own Arcana. Kano attempts to steal Shinnok's Amulet while touring the temple before being told by Liu to return it. Raiden then views the 3 champions, addressing them dismissively as Cole is unfit to fight, both physically and mentally, and Sonya is unmarked. Kano quickly boasts that Raiden did not mention him and asks for his "fortune cookie", only for Raiden to blindly fire a lightning bolt behind him, striking Kano and sending him flying into the ceiling, before calling him arrogant.
As Sub-Zero attacks the temple, the fighters are saved by the timely arrival of Kung Lao who shows off his own powers and proudly states his family connection to the Great Kung Lao only for Kano to remark that he has "never heard of him". The White Lotus then declare that the other fighters' training must begin with the tournament not long after, although not for Sonya as she has no marking, which Kano gleefully gloats about under the protection of Raiden's shield. Nevertheless, he, along with Cole, remains unable to activate his Arcana in training, although Kano paradoxically gloats that Cole's Arcana is likely being defeated by Lao's flying hat. During his training against Liu Kang, Liu sweeps Kano's leg out from underneath him twice. After Kano asks whether the leg sweep is the only move Liu knows, he tries jumping over the third leg sweep, which does not come until after Kano lands, knocking him to the ground yet again.
During dinner, Kano asks for an egg roll from Kung Lao, who is seated closer to them, derisively referring to Lao as "Kung Pao". Instead, Lao eats an egg roll himself, and retorts that Kano would be in no condition for the tournament even if he had 100 days to train before calling him a fat, lazy pig and terrible fighter with no skill. Kano asks him if he has a deathwish, to which Lao responds by saying that kombat requires intelligence which Kano lacks, and he more accurately resembles a dog who still fails training classes. Liu Kang further berates him, wondering why Kano would jeopardize the goodwill the White Lotus has shown him, that Kung Lao is there to save Kano from himself, and that Kano is an aggressive bunny which is angry mentally but soft and useless physically before saying Kano should bow and get on his knees before Kung Lao, although he does remark that Kano's anger is a good thing. Furious, Kano stands up and demands the monks "suck his sack", before asking if any of the other fighters even know of his reputation as a wanted man and the "Black fucking Dragon" in 35+ countries, calling Liu Kang "a cave-dwelling hippie with anal beads" and Kung Lao "a wanker wearing a hubcap as a helmet." He then finally roars for both monks to sit down and "pass him a fucking egg roll" before his Arcana, an eye laser in his right eye, activated on accident, forcing Kung Lao to deflect it with his helmet. After a moment of stunned reflection among the fighters, Kano is overjoyed at his newfound power, stating that it was better than Liu Kang's fireballs, which he deemed Liu Kang a pussy for having.
Meanwhile, Shang Tsung learns that Kano is one of the chosen champions. One of his warriors, Kabal remarks that he is familiar with Kano from his time in the Black Dragon, and informs Shang that Kano is scum of the earth, the reason why he is forced to rely on his breathing apparatus, and that Shang would "love him". Kabal then convinces Kano to lower Raiden's shield and betray Earthrealm for by doubling the $3,000,000 for the shield and doubling again for joining them. Kano agrees, and promptly destroys Raiden's staff with his eye laser, which had been powering the shield.
He re-enters the training grounds with Shang Tsung and his other warriors, gloating with Raiden's broken staff and intending to kill Sonya. Mileena incapacitates Sonya by stabbing her in the shoulder after a brief battle, although she does not kill Sonya as Sonya is still unmarked, after which she teleports to parts unknown. As Sonya is still recovering, Kano throws her body off a ledge and fires his eye laser at an overhanging statue, which crushes her body and somehow does not kill her, after which he departs, probably to collect payment from Shang Tsung after Raiden forces Shang to retreat.
Unbenownst to Kano, Jax's beaten body was also below the same ledge from his battle with Reiko. Upon seeing his partner was under heavy debris, Jax's Arcana activated and granted him enhanced cybernetic arms, giving him the strength to lift the statue off Sonya. The other heroes managed to regroup and form plans to separate Kano from Shang's warriors with the use of Raiden's teleportation.
Kano was brought from wherever he was to Sonya's house again, where he knocked down the door and searched for Sonya, who was hiding in its tunnels. She emerged from the floor to stab Kano's ankles at various times, who responded by eye lasering the floor to bits. Sonya threw a bottle of acetone at his eye, which depowered his eye laser and stunned him when he tried using it. After a bathroom brawl that saw Kano get kicked into a toilet, he threw the pair out the window into the front yard, where he strangled Sonya until she noticed the garden gnome he spat on earlier, which she jammed into his right eye, killing Kano.
Kano possess competent, if not unorthodox fighting skills, as shown when fighting opponents like Reptile or training with Cole Young. Like his video game counterpart, Kano carries large bowie knives wherever he goes and uses them in kombat to gruesome effect. However, unlike his video game counterpart, and even his past television and film counterparts, this version of Kano lacks a bionic eye entirely. Instead, after stealing a Dragon Marking and later getting annoyed with Kung Lao, Kano unlocks his Arcana, allowing him to shoot lasers from his wounded and damaged right eye, being able to cut through nearly anything. The eye laser is even strong enough to destroy Raiden's staff, disabling the electric field around Raiden's Temple and allowing Shang Tsung and his forces to storm the Temple. The eye laser can be disabled by pouring acetone on Kano's eye.
Behind the Scenes
- Josh Lawson enjoyed the role of Kano, describing him as a fan-favorite that people "love to hate". Although he played the Mortal Kombat games as a kid, he admits that he never played as Kano, having chosen characters such as Sonya Blade and Lord Raiden, and thus brought no pre-conceived notions to the role. 
- His tattoo took 40 minutes to apply and then lasted for three-four days before needing to be reapplied. 
- In HBO Max's "Meet the Kast" featurette, Lawson expressed appreciation for the way the fight element that is part of the games is brought to life on screen stating, "And it's not just CG, I promise you."
- During a confrontation with Reptile, who attacks Sonya, Cole and Kano, Kano kills him using his signature Heart Rip Fatality from the first Mortal Kombat video game.
- Kano's bowie knives in the film have Black Dragon markings alongside the blades.
- Kano is captured by Sonya, who reveals that he had slit the throat of a chosen warrior, leading to more of Sonya's ire towards Kano. This may be a possible reference to Sonya's obsession to catch Kano in various Mortal Kombat media after he killed her partner, especially Bill van Hoven, whose throat was slit by Kano in the backgroundstory of the 1995 film Mortal Kombat according to the novelization.
- Inside Raiden's Temple, Kano steals Shinnok's Amulet before being told to put it back by Liu Kang. This is a possible reference to Mortal Kombat X, in which Kano stole the amulet to give to Mileena.
- Mortal Kombat - Official Production Notes. Pop Culture Fun (April 4, 2021). Retrieved on April 20, 2021.
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