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I will not be so passive in your demise.
 

 

—Kung Lao to Raiden in Mortal Kombat X

Kung Lao (空佬)[1] is a character in the Mortal Kombat series, and made his debut in Mortal Kombat II.

About Kung Lao

Kung Lao is a former Shaolin monk and a member of the White Lotus Society. He stands in the shadow of his great ancestor, the Great Kung Lao, but unlike his great ancestor, he has no desire to be champion and would rather live a life of peace. However, this was changed in MK 2011, wherein Lao is now eager to prove himself equal to Liu Kang. As well, he has sought counsel from master Bo' Rai Cho. Of the Earthrealm warriors, Lao is the most outspoken pacifist, although he will not hesitate to severely punish those who attack him, Earthrealm, or his friends. His trademark is his Razor-Rimmed Hat, which he can employ quite powerfully and effectively in combat. Many of his fatalities involve the use of his hat to some extent.

According to MK co-creator John Tobias in a 1995 interview with EGM, Kung Lao's hat was inspired by the 1964 James Bond movie Gold finger, in which the character Oddjob throws his derby hat as a deadly weapon.

Combat Characteristics

Powers and Abilities

Kung Lao possesses similar abilities to Liu Kang when it comes to strength, agility and martial arts. However, those are not his most deadly weapon. Lao's preferred weapon of choice is the razor-edged hat that he wears all the time. The hat is usually utilized to instill fatal and amputating blows, mainly in decapitation. Lao appears to have absolute control over the hat as he is able to throw whilst it moves in circular directions instead of straight ahead. The hat also appears to have supernatural properties: No matter how far he throws it or where it will end up, the hat will always materialize back on Lao's head like an instant boomerang. He appears to also have some degree of teleportation as well.

Signature Moves

  • Hat Throw: Kung Lao hurls his hat at the opponent. In MK 2011, this is called Hat Toss. His hat can also be directed upwards or downwards in MKII, MKT, and MK 2011. In MKX, the way the hat is thrown, its properties and move's name change according to the variation chosen. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A, MK 2011, MKX, MK11)
    • The enhanced version in MK 2011 is called Ultimate Hat. Kung Lao throws the hat underhand and it slices into the opponent, spinning for a few seconds. This is the MK3 version of his Hat Throw and it can't be directed as the regular version can.
    • In MKX, the many versions of this move are:
      • Hat Toss: Tempest variation version. Kung Lao throws his hat horizontally. This one allows Kung Lao to angle the hat up or down after it's been thrown.
        • The enhanced version is called Hat Dance and it loses its ability to be controlled, but moves much slower and knocks the opponent down on hit.
      • Hat Grinder: Buzz Saw variation version. Kung Lao throws his hat vertically to grind his opponent's torso. Kung Lao cannot angle or direct this version of the move.
        • The enhanced version is called Buzz Saw, which travels much slower than the normal version and can be delayed. This move will also grind airborne opponents for a longer amount of time, allowing for a quick follow-up attack.
      • Hat Throw: Hat Trick variation version. Kung Lao throws his hat horizontally. He is allowed to angle the hat up or down after it's been thrown, much like Hat Toss.
        • The enhanced version is called Hat-A-Rang and causes the hat to return to Kung Lao after fully crossing the screen, hitting the opponent twice. Kung Lao is also allowed a follow-up attack on the opponent after the hat returns from across the screen.
  • Wind Teleport: Kung Lao goes to the ground and reappears behind his opponent. It could be followed by multiple moves. In MK 2011 and MKX, it is named Teleport, can be performed in the air as well and can be followed by a punch, throw, or kick. In MK11, it is also named Teleport and Kung Lao tosses his hat to the ground and teleports to its location. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK:A, MK 2011, MKX, MK11)
    • The enhanced version in MKX is called Advanced Teleportation. It armors Kung Lao as he disappears and increases the damage of the follow up attack.
    • In MK11, amplifying the move allows Kung Lao to delay his reappearance in order to confuse the opponent.
    • The attacks Kung Lao may perform during Teleport in MK11 are:
      • Hat Slice: Kung Lao takes off his hat and quickly slashes the opponent.
      • Heel Flipe: Kung Lao performs an overhead front flip kick.
      • Shaolin Slam: Kung Lao grabs the opponent, lifts them high and slams them head-first into the ground.
      • Wutang: Kung Lao spins horizontally with his hands thrust forward.
        • If Kung Lao connects Wutang right after a Shaolin Slam, the attack is turned into a Krushing Blow, where Kung Lao crushes the opponent's ribs with his fists, dealing increased damage.
  • Double Pass Teleport: Kung Lao passes twice before appearing behind his opponent. In MK 2011 this is the enhanced version of the Teleport, although it doesn't appear in the enhanced move list. (MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK 2011)
  • Dive Kick: Also called the Bullet Kick or the Shaolin Drop, Kung Lao dives down from the air and attacks his opponent. This move leaves him extremely vulnerable if blocked. In MKG, he dives slower, giving out a big disadvantage. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK:A, MK 2011, MKX, MK11)
    • Both in MK 2011 and MKX the enhanced version is called Multi Kick and hits the opponent three times.
    • In MK11, amplifying the move has Kung Lao follow the opponent to the ground and rapidly punch them in the face mulitple times, finishing with an elbow strike.
    • In MK11, if Kung Lao connect two Shaolin Drops in a row, the amplified version is turned into a Krushing Blow, where Kung Lao crushes the opponent's jaws with the elbow strike, dealing increased damage.
  • 3D Shield / Whirlwind Spin: Spinning like a tornado, Kung Lao knocks his opponent into the air. In Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Mortal Kombat Gold he could move while spinning. In MK 2011 and MKX, this is called Spin and it is now a major component of his gameplay as a launcher. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK 2011, MKX, MK11)
    • In MK 2011 the enhanced version is called Cyclone, while in MKX it's called Vortex. In both games Kung Lao will spin forward instead of remaining stationary and hit the enemy three times instead of once.
    • In MK11, amplifying the move allows Kung Lao to spin forward instead of remaining stationary and hit the enemy three times instead of once.
  • Tornado: A different version of Spin that allows Kung Lao to move forward or backwards for a few steps while spinning, similarly to his Whirlwind Spin from MKT and MKG. This replaces Spin in the Tempest variation. (MKX - Tempest Variation)
    • The enhanced version is called Cyclone and sucks the opponent towards Kung Lao while he remains stationary, it also has a greater range of effect.
  • Ground Hat: Kung Lao throws his hat on the ground, causing it to spin towards the opponent. In MKX this is called Low Grinder. (MK 2011, MKX - Buzz Saw Variation)
    • In MK 2011, the enhanced version is called Grinding Hat. The hat will stay on the ground for a second before launching into the air.
    • In MKX, the enhanced version is called Low Buzz Saw and travels much slower.
  • Upward Grinder: Kung Lao throws his hat upwards in a diagonal fashion. (MKX - Buzz Saw Variation)
    • The enhanced version is called Upward Buzz Saw. The hat will come down from the air to hit the opponent at a certain point, which is determined by the player. The hat can also be delayed by standing still at a point in the air.
  • Whirlwind Kick: Kung Lao flies towards his opponent spinning like a tornado, doing multiple kicks that knocks them down. In MKX and MK11, this move is used to start his X-Ray and Fatal Blow. (MK:DA, MK:A, MKX, MK11)
  • Hat Spin: Kung Lao throws his hat and makes it spin continuously around him. The hat will strike any opponent who dares to approach, and will disappear after the hit or after some seconds. It also takes longer to reappear than in most of Lao's hat moves. In MK11, this move is known as Orbiting Hat and requires Kung Lao to use a bar of both Offensive and Defensive meters. (MK:SMMKX - Tempest Variation , MK11 - Equip Ability)
    • The enhanced version is called Orbiting Hat and allows for a follow up attack after it connects. It can also neutralize an enemy's projectile, should it come in contact with one.
    • In MK11, amplifying the move has Kung Lao summons a second hat that orbits around him.
    • Omega Hat: Equipping this ability expands the radius of the hat's orbit. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
  • Hat Trap: Kung Lao throws his hat in front of himself, making it float in place (it can also be placed behind him with Away Hat Trap or above him with High Hat Trap). The enemy will not be hit if they go through the hat while it's like this, but Lao can use Hat Call Back to call the hat back to him from any point of the arena. If it hits the opponent on the way back, it will damage and knock them down. Note: if down is held during Hat Trap or Away Hat Trap, the hat will be placed closer to the floor and hit ducking enemies on the way back. (MKX - Hat Trick Variation)
    • The enhanced version of Hat Call Back is called Heavy Call Back, which does more damage.
  • Torpedo: A move taken from Raiden. Kung Lao flies towards the opponent and pushes them against the corner. Only the MKII version of Lao in MK Trilogy can do this move. (MKT)
  • Spiritual Guidance: Kung Lao calls upon the spirit of his ancestor, the Great Kung Lao, to attack the opponent. (MK11- Equip Ability)
    • Soul Burst: Kung Lao sends four bursts of spiritual energy forward to strike the opponent.
      • If Kung Lao connect three Soul Bursts in a row, the attack is turned into a Krushing Blow, with the burst crushing the opponent's ribcage, dealing increased damage.
    • Upward Soul Burst: Kung Lao sends four bursts of spiritual energy at an upwards angle to strike the airborne opponent.
    • Ground Soul Burst: Kung Lao slams his hand on the ground and sends a burst of energy underneath the opponent. The attack can be used at different ranges, called Close/Far/Very Far Soul Burst, respectively.
  • Vortex: Kung Lao spins in place and then releases a gust of wind that damages and lifts the opponent off the ground when they get hit. The range of the move can be increased by holding down the button. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
  • Z Hat: Kung Lao draws a Z-shape with his fingers and throws his hat which zigzags and hits his opponent multiple times. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
    • Amplifying the move makes the hat bounce around and deal more hits.
  • Hat Possession: Kung Lao throws his hat and makes it spin continuously around his opponent. If the opponent attempts to step into its orbit, the hat will strike them and disappear. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
  • Guided Hat: Kung Lao gains the ability to angle his Hat Toss up or down in flight. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
  • Buzz Saw: Kung Lao throws his hat vertically and suspends it for a few moments during which he can control the hat's horizontal and vertical position. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
    • Amplifying the move allows Kung Lao to move while the hat is still suspended mid-air.
  • Possessed Hat: Kung Lao throws his hat which goes up and down in a sine pattern during its flight. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
  • X-Ray Move - Fist of Shaolin: Kung Lao performs a massive Spin. Upon connecting, he will grab his foe & deliver a hard chop to the neck, near the windpipe. As they are stunned, trying to recover, he then hits the back of their neck with a second chop, shattering their vertebrae. (MK 2011).
  • X-Ray Move - Head Trauma: Kung Lao performs a triple Whirlwind Kick to stun the opponent before throwing his hat into their forehead, slicing through the top of their skull. He then lunges forward to grab his hat and flips over the opponent, slamming them into the ground and shattering their spine, bouncing them a few feet into the air. Finally, Lao performs a Wind Teleport and slams his knee into their stomach, smashing their ribs. (MKX)
  • Fatal Blow - Beaten and Broken: Kung Lao hits the opponent with a flying kick to start the move. He then lands eight rapid punches on the opponent's torso area and slices their throat with his hat. He then flings said hat behind the opponent, where it spins in place in midair. Lao kicks the opponent into the hat, which slices the opponent's back. The Shaolin monk then throws his hat in front of the opponent, leaving it spinning in the air. He then pushes the opponent into the hat, which slices their face, before kicking them to the ground. (MK11)

Other Moves

  • Throw: Kung Lao performs a very elaborate flip throw while shouting random gibberish, from the ground (MKII, MKT) and a jumping version (MK3, UMK3, MKT). If performed too close to the wall, Kung Lao will do a simple overhead toss in MKII only.
  • Throw: Kung Lao grabs his opponent and Whirlwind Spins several times before slamming them to the ground. (MK 2011)
  • Hat Slice: Perhaps referencing to his infamous MKII Fatality, Kung Lao chops downward with a very similar-looking overhead command attack. In MKX, Kung Lao can follow it up with a second slice. (MK 2011, MKX)
  • Throw: Kung Lao grabs his opponent and lays them across his knee before delivering a barrage of punches to their face. He then slams his elbow into their stomach before sending them flying across the screen with his knee. (MKX)
  • Unnamed Uppercut: Kung Lao uppercuts hit opponent with a rising fist. This uppercut will only be performed if his hat is not on his head. (MKX)
  • Throw (Forward): Kung Lao throws his hat behind his opponent, then forces them into it whilst punching them multiple times, then kicks them away while retrieving his hat. (MK11)
  • Throw (Backward): Kung Lao hoists the opponent behind him, which forces the opponent to their knees, then punches them multiple times across the scalp, hitting them two more times and finally kneeing them away. (MK11)
    • If Kung Lao performs this on an opponent who has failed a Throw Escape during a previous Throw before, the attack is turned into a Krushing Blow, where when KUng Lao knees the opponent in the back, it shatters their ribs, dealing over double the original damage.
  • Flowing Water: Kung Lao steps forward with a low hat slash, follows it up with a palm strike, sets the hat up and kicks it towards the opponent. (MK11)
    • If Kung Lao connects the final hit as a Kounter or a Punish, the attack is turned into a Krushing Blow, with the hat grinding the opponent, dealing increased damage and suspending the opponent in the air for a juggle.

Fatalities

  • Body Slice: Kung Lao brings his razor hat down, bisecting the opponent, the opponent falls on their knees, and the body splits vertically in half with a clean swipe. (MKII, MK:SM, MKX) (The blood doesn't show in MKX when they fall on their knees.)
    • In MKX, this Fatality is renamed as Hat Split.
  • Hat Decapitation: Kung Lao throws his hat, which arcs upward suddenly, chopping his enemy's head off. (MKII, MKT, MKG)
  • Hat Boomerang: Kung Lao tosses his hat at an enemy, decapitating them. The hat then ricochets off the far wall of the screen and doubles back, cutting the enemy in half. A third ricochet slices the enemy off at the knees. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG)
  • Tornado: Kung Lao executes his Cyclone Spin, and sucks the opponent into it, causing them to explode violently. This was changed to a Multality in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:SM)
  • Hat Toss: Kung Lao throws his hat at the opponent, which gets lodged in their head as they fall on their back. He then stomps on the opponent's stomach to retrieve his hat. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, he slams it into the opponent's head and then retrieves it when his opponent is on their knees. (MK:DA, MK:SM)
  • Mid-Air Slice: Kung Lao kicks the opponent into the air and then amputates his opponent's limbs and head with his hat. (MK:SM)
  • Arm Cutter: Kung Lao chops off the enemy's arms with his hat, and as his opponent attempts to run away, throws it, decapitating them. (MK:SM)
  • Friendly Rabbit: Kung Lao takes off his hat and pulls out a bunny, which his opponent waves at in rejection. He then proceeds to beat the opponent with it until they explode. (MK:SM)
  • Unfriendly Rabbit: Kung Lao once again pulls a bunny out of his hat and throws it at the opponent, they catch it and pet it before it proceeds to feast on the opponent. The bunny eventually bites the opponent's head off. (MK:SM)
  • Head Toss: Kung Lao kicks the opponent in the gut. He then grabs them by the head, jumps over them and pulls off their head, throwing it away. (MK:SM)
  • Many Chops: Kung Lao takes off his hat and cuts off each limb one by one. As the opponent falls to the ground, Kung Lao walks over and slams his hat down on the opponent's neck, decapitating them. (MK:SM)
  • Razor's Edge: Kung Lao kicks his opponent to the ground, then takes off his hat and makes it roll continuously on the ground like a buzzsaw. He then drags his opponent through the hat, groin first, bisecting them in half, then goes and retrieves his hat. In MK 2011, Kung Lao finishes this Fatality by lifting up the bifurcated victim by his/her legs rather than retrieving the hat. (MK:SM, MK 2011)
  • Hat Trick: Kung Lao throws his hat past his opponent. The hat comes back like a boomerang, decapitating the opponent. Kung Lao quickly catches his hat and vertically bisects the opponent's body in half. He then places the hat back on and flicks the blood off of the edge. This Fatality is a combination of his Body Slice and Hat Decapitation Fatalities. (MK 2011)
  • Face Grind: Kung Lao throws his hat behind him and makes it spin in place on the ground just like in Razor's Edge. He then trips his enemy in the hat's direction and their face almost touches it, but they rear their head a moment before it. Kung Lao then steps on their back to force them down, and the razor slowly penetrates their head until completely slicing it in two halves. (MKX)
  • Flower Pot: Kung Lao decapitates his opponent with his hat, then cuts through their shoulders vertically as the head goes flying. When the head falls back down, it lands on the rest of the body and it all collapses into a pile of body parts. This Fatality is similar to his Hat Trick Fatality, but here Kung Lao does not throw his hat. (MKX)
  • Headed Nowhere: Kung Lao takes his hat and decapitates the opponent and kicks his victim away, he then does a Wind Teleport to appear behind the victim to bisect him/her vertically in half and throws his hat at the falling head, severing the scalp. (MK11)
  • Meat Slicer: Kung Lao takes his hat and throws it behind the opponent and keeps it spinning mid-air. He grabs the opponent by their arms and spins them around, inching closer to his hat to cut off their shins. While spinning, we get a view of the opponent from Kung Lao's perspective, which quickly pans out to show him inching closer to cut off the legs, then their lower torso. As he finally throws the opponent, the hat faces towards them to cut them vertically in half. (MK11)

Other Finishers

  • Friendship #1 - Bunny Trick: Kung Lao takes a bunny out of his hat. (MKII)
  • Friendship #2 - Frisbee Hat: Kung Lao tosses his hat and a dog chases it off screen. The dog yelps loudly in pain and Kung Lao cringes then shakes his head in regret. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
  • Animality - Ragin' Cheetah: Kung Lao turns into a cheetah and mauls his dazed opponent. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
  • Multality #1 - Hat Whirlwind: Kung Lao tosses his hat, which spins around, mutilating surrounding enemies. (MK:SM)
  • Multality #2 - Tornado: Kung Lao spins at a high speed sucking up anyone close by, instantly killing them. (MK:SM)
  • Brutality - Razor's Edge: Kung Lao takes off his hat in rage, running towards the opponent, slashing them with his trademark hat, slicing them for the final time, then decapitates them. (MK:SM)
  • Babality: Kung Lao throws his hat in baby form, which comes back with a TaiGore following behind, trampling Kung Lao and making him cry. (MK 2011)

Brutalites

Mortal Kombat X

  • Brutality #1 - Open Wide: Lao grabs his opponent and proceeds to brutally punch their face repeatedly. He then delivers three more hard punches, the last one decapitating them in such a way that the head still hangs from the neck, held by the spine. (MKX)
  • Brutality #2 - Klassic Toss: Lao throws his hat which cuts his opponent's head off. If aimed lower, the hat will either bifurcate the opponent or slice off their shins. (MKX)
  • Brutality #3 - Spin Cycle: Lao performs a Tornado that slices his opponents into pieces. This Brutality is based off of Kung Lao's Tornado Fatality. (MKX - Tempest Variation)
  • Brutality #4 - Grind Away: Lao throws his hat upwards, which stays in place for a while. The hat will then charge into the opponent, slowly cutting them in half until the waist, to which, the halves fall down. (MKX - Buzz Saw Variation)
  • Brutality #5 - Z Hat: Lao sets a Hat Trap behind the opponent which then slices his opponent in a Z fashion, cutting the shins and head off. (MKX - Hat Trick Variation)
  • Brutality #6 - Half Measure: Lao tosses his hat forwards, which embeds into the opponent's torso and continues to spin and grind, sending blood flying until the hat stops. (MKX - Secret - Buzz Saw Variation)
  • Brutality #7 - Flip You Off: Lao performs his throw follow up to his Teleport, but rips the opponent's upper torso clean off. (MKX - Secret)

Mortal Kombat 11

  • The Klassic: Kung Lao uppercuts the opponent's head off with their spine attached. It is available to all other characters. (MK11)
  • Vengeful Spirit:
  • Bad Buzz:
  • Klassic Kut: Kung Lao performs his Hat toss, which cuts his opponent's head off. It's the same as one of his brutalities in MKX. (MK11)
  • Not Holding Back:
  • Mind Of Its Own: Kung Lao does his Z-Hat move only to slice his opponent's right arm off, then the left leg, the left arm and finally the head. (MK11)
  • Off The Top: Kung Lao performs Under Control combo and tosses his hat, then punches the opponent once in the stomach and once in the face and hoists them upwards so that the returning hat decapitates them.
    • Must connect the first hit.
    • Requires Kung Lao to be at certain health level.
  • Stuck: Kung Lao performs his Shaolin Slam teleport throw, only for him to completely destroy the opponent's entire upper body upon impact. (MK11)
  • Beaten and Broken: Kung Lao does his amplified Shaolin Drop only for him to grab his hat and stab his opponent twice in the chest and then finally chop off their head. (MK11)

Appearances in Other Media

Mortal Kombat Legacy

Kung Lao is portrayed by Mark Dacascos in Season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy.

In the series, he was a close friend of Liu Kang's, as they were both members of the White Lotus temple. After Kang won the Mortal Kombat tournament 10 years ago, he chose to leave the temple and pursue a life with his girlfriend Molly. Though disappointed, Lao respected his decision. Tragedy struck however, as Kang returned to the temple one night, bloodied and despondent, informing him of Molly's death. Lao had already heard of her death and gives Kang his condolences, admitting the reason he did not see him sooner was because he was unsure of his presence would have done more harm than good.

Seeing that the blood covering Liu Kang is not his own, Kung Lao asks him what he has done. Kang admits he has performed 'karma' on the men that killed Molly. Lao harshly informs him that he is not a god and that karma is not his to deliver. Kang argues that he has cleansed the world of filth and that what he did was no different than what he would have done in a tournament. Lao reminds him he is a protector of Earthrealm, and that means he must protect its people and ideals.

Kung Lao then asks him if he thinks he is the first person to lose someone he has loved and that a stronger person would not have answered violence with violence, that it only creates a cycle of misery for the world. Lao further informs him he should have upheld the value of sila, harmony and order, and that those who do not follow these ideals are no better than the inhabitants of Outworld.

Kung Lao tells him that those of White Lotus must follow this, but Liu Kang reminds him he is no longer White Lotus. Lao then asks him why he is here, since he is not there for forgiveness. Kang tells him he was hoping he would understand. Lao again reminds him that because he chose to leave the order and live the life of a normal man, with joy comes pain and that he must follow it to its conclusion.

Kung Lao then unemotionally tells Liu Kang that he is on his own, and to leave the temple and never return. Lao then turns away, with Kang pleading to him, but the monk only gives him one last look before walking away.

10 years later, Kung Lao finds Liu Kang in a bar in Macau, having just brutally beaten several gangsters up and is being punched by the last. Lao kindly offers to not injure the thug any further if he lets Kang go. When the thug refuses, Lao knocks him out with a single toss of his hat, and easily catches it on the rebound. Kang is shocked to see his former friend, and the two converse outside the bar.

Though confused by his former friend's sudden appearance, Kung Lao attempts to make peace with Liu Kang, but only receives slurred insults and belligerent remarks from the former Lotus. Though he had hoped that Kang wanted to see him, Lao informs the rogue monk that the tournament starts tomorrow and that he wants them to make peace.

Liu Kang thinks he only wants to due to his conscience acting up, but Kung Lao tells him he does not seek forgiveness, once again reiterating Kang's decisions to leave the temple and pursue a life with a woman. Kang then retorts that it was Lao's decision to abandon him when he needed him most, still angry that he risked his life for 'ungrateful animals.' Lao tells him he chose another path for his life, and while it disappointed him, he has respected his choices and asks that Kang respect his.

Kung Lao then admits that he only wants that they understand each other, as this may be their last chance. Liu Kang only insults him further, saying that he does not need to understand him and Kung Lao will never understand him. When Kung Lao refuses to move out his way, Liu Kang punches him hard enough to make his nose bleed.

Disappointed, but refusing to be baited, Kung Lao dons his hat and leaves.

That night, Kung Lao takes part in a cleansing meditation before traveling to a deserted alleyway the next morning. Muttering incantations, Lao vanishes, reappearing on an island, dressed for battle. Shortly after, he is followed by Kurtis Stryker, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero and Kenshi, with the thunder god Raiden greeting them.

That night, Kung Lao sits among a campfire as Raiden explains on the island, their innate supernatural abilities will be freely expressed here, making them more powerful, pointing out to Kung Lao his ability to channel elements, a power that the Shaolin monk has always known he had possessed.

The tournament begins, and Kung Lao spends the better part of the day wandering the island when he comes across Stryker and Johnny Cage having been defeated by a hooded fighter of Shang Tsung's. Lao throws his hat to disarm the kombatant of Stryker's own gun and is shocked to realize it is Liu Kang.

Kung Lao asks him why he did not tell him the night before in Macau, and tries to remind Liu Kang that they were once like brothers, but Liu Kang merely brushes this off as "another life." Kung Lao reveals that he thought that Liu Kang had the strength to rise out of his misery and return, and tries to convince the former Shaolin that there is still good in him. Liu Kang disagrees and Kung Lao questions him for following Shang Tsung, trying to remind him where the path he is on leads too.

Liu Kang admits to Kung Lao that he has done things over the past ten years that he would not believe, but that each time, he confirmed the righteousness of his path, calling the people of Earthrealm ungrateful and that Kung Lao is naive to think they are worth protecting.

Kung Lao admits humanity is not perfect, but that their ideals are worth fighting for and protecting. Liu Kang then coldly asks him if he was aspiring to those ideals when he turned his back on him. Kung Lao makes it clear that he will not fight him, and Liu Kang simply snarls that he will die then. The season ends as the two stare each other down.

Other

  • Kung Lao made several appearances in Malibu Comics' MK series. His story is slightly altered, stating he is an exile in Outworld due to the failure of his ancestor, and the fall of his lineage. During the Blood & Thunder series he has a minor participation rescuing a near-death Liu Kang after he was stabbed by Kano. In the Battlewave series, he joins with Kitana, Baraka and Sub-Zero in an attempt to overthrow the emperor Shao Kahn. During the comics, he shares a very close relation with Kitana, contradicting the games' official story about Kang and Kitana's love relationship.
  • He was featured in his own one-shot issue from Malibu Comics in the summer of 1995. The comic, entitled Rising Son, showed his struggle against Shang Tsung and his shape shifting mind tricks, using his friends' forms (Kitana, Baraka and Sub-Zero) as well as his ancestor's form to kill him. It would be the very last issue produced in Malibu's Mortal Kombat series.
  • Kung Lao was also the centerpiece of the non-canon 1995 Mortal Kombat novel written by Jeff Rovin. However, his description therein completely differed from that of the games; he was depicted as being tall, bald save for a queue of long black hair (similar to Goro), and wearing a long white robe.

Quotes

Mortal Kombat (2011)

  • "For the Shaolin!" (Battle Cry)
  • "I am Liu Kang's equal!" (to Raiden)
  • "Watch and see." (When Raiden tells him he needs to show he is Liu Kang's equal)
  • "I accept the challenge. Never mind the Lin Kuei, now you will face a Shaolin!" (to Scorpion)
  • "We must follow them." (To Raiden about the Tarkatans)
  • "A personality that is not at all like sanding paper?" (When Johnny Cage asks what Raiden has that he doesn't)
  • "Lord Raiden. We can free her as others fight in our stead, and join you thereafter." (to Raiden about freeing Kitana)
  • "I hope your girlfriend is worth Lord Raiden's anger, Liu Kang." (Kung Lao teasing Liu Kang about Kitana)
  • "They must have relocated Kitana."
  • "Be thankful that I choose not to spill your tainted blood." (after defeating Noob Saibot)
  • "Who are you? There is something familiar..." (to Noob Saibot)
  • "Do you need help? Four arms against two is hardly a fair fight." (to Liu Kang who's fighting Sheeva)
  • "You have had your match against Liu Kang. Now you will face me!" (to Goro)
  • "Now, if you have any honor left... you will tell us where Kitana is!" (after beating Goro)
  • "She may yet live. Let us go." (to Liu Kang)
  • "It is done!" (after beating Shang Tsung and Quan Chi)
  • "See, Raiden! Earthrealm is free-" (as Shao Kahn kills him)

Mortal Kombat X

  • "It is as Master Bo' Rai Cho said. The Shaolin masters are aboard that ship."
  • "They will talk. I will see to it."
  • "We will succeed, Lord Raiden."
  • "Do not interfere, Jackson Briggs. Go back into hiding."
  • "I serve Shinnok and the Netherrealm."
  • "Something you allowed to happen."
  • "I will not be so passive in your demise."

Mortal Kombat 11

Kung Lao (Past)

  • "They will not reach the Grotto. It is protected by powerful magic. The deadliest traps. I am sure our counterparts from your era are already dealing with them."
  • "I die at the Koliseum? You on a rooftop, fighting Lord Raiden?"
  • "Our future, Liu Kang. It is insane!"
  • "Neither will accepting our destiny as evil undead warlords."
  • "Can we trust him? It appears he got us both killed!"
  • "Do you know how? The monks never taught me."
  • "Easy enough. What's next?"
  • "How about we avoid those?"
  • "I did not do that."
  • "I can't stop them!" (To Liu Kang)
  • "Can you stop the traps?" (If the player chooses him)
  • "I learned my lesson, fighting you at Shang Tsung's tournament. This time I am prepared." (To Scorpion)
  • "Lord Raiden may make mistakes, but he doesn't murder his followers." (To Revenant Jade)
  • "I like the "real" you better." (After defeating Revenant Jade)
  • "What if the next Revenants we have to fight are... us?"
  • "Who said?" (To Geras)
  • "The thought of becoming you sickens me, but I won't blame Raiden." (To his Revenant self)
  • "You shame our family name." (After defeating his Revenant self)
  • "Is it me, or could they be telling the truth?" (To Liu Kang)
  • "That was easy."
  • "Fetch the Jinsei, 'Chosen One'." (If the player chooses him)
  • "You've met my ancestor?"
  • "So what we were told is true? You were "involved" in our deaths?"
  • "That is a lot to take on faith."
  • "As requested, zero casualties."
  • "She did it!" (To Liu Kang after Kitana permanently blinds Shao Kahn)
  • "She's now officially out of your league." (To Liu Kang, after Kitana becomes a new Kahn)
  • "Now he's out of her league." (On Kitana’s status, after the rise of Fire God Liu Kang)
  • "Me too, brother."

Kung Lao (Revenant)

  • "Shao Kahn snapped my neck in the arena. Raiden saw it coming, and did nothing!"
  • "You owe Kronika."
  • "She saved your life by stopping time."
  • "Your ego knows no bounds."
  • "It should have been me, Liu Kang, from the beginning!"
  • "Thanks to Kronika, it will be."

Trivia

  • Kung Lao is the co-protagonist of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, alongside Liu Kang.
  • Lao (老, "old") is possibly a mistranslation. Since he and Liu Kang (劉鋼) share the same ancestor, they might share the same surname. It should be noted that Kung Lao is also the Hokkien and Cantonese pronunciation of "鋼劉" (while Kang Liu is Mandarin), suggesting both characters might even share the same name but with different pronunciation.
  • Kung Lao appears in the intro of Armageddon, fighting Baraka in mid-air using his sword.
  • Kung Lao can be seen using his Hat Throw and Teleport techniques in the intro of Shaolin Monks, fighting Baraka, Goro and Scorpion separately.
  • Despite being a major character in the Mortal Kombat series, the modern Kung Lao was rarely established in most of the MK media including the two films, the live action MK Conquest TV show, or even the USA cartoon series, though he did star in season 2 of MK Legacy.
  • Kung Lao's body can be seen in the introduction of Mortal Kombat: Deception, located on the stairs leading to the Soulnado chamber. He is also in Deception's Konquest Mode, where he asks Shujinko to find Kai in Outworld.
  • In Deadly Alliance, Kung Lao has a joke image of himself having his own infomercial and selling swords for a limited time.
    • In Deadly Alliance and Armageddon, he and Quan Chi use the same weapon, except Kung Lao uses one sword while Quan Chi fights with two.
    • Also, in Deadly Alliance, Kung Lao has the same voice actor as Raiden, Hsu Hao, and Mokap.
  • In the first episode of Mortal Kombat: Conquest, the original Kung Lao is briefly seen wearing the modern-day Lao's attire, including his iconic hat, prior to defeating Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat.
  • The White Lotus Society had meant for Kung Lao to be their champion in Mortal Kombat, but he refuses; only wanting peace and nothing to do with the dangerous and brutal tournament, so they sent Liu Kang instead.
    • However, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks retconned this, by stating that Liu Kang was chosen over him, and an arrogant and jealous Kung Lao went to the tournament in disguise as a Masked Guard. This was not considered canon, due to Shaolin Monks not being consistent with the series. In Mortal Kombat 2011, he entered in the tournament only to prove to Raiden that he was a worthy warrior, not to be the champion.
    • Though his Arcade ending in MK 2011 is non-canon, it is interesting that he is referred to as a reincarnation of the Great Kung Lao as well as a descendant. Whether this is true is unknown.
  • His Fatality in MK 2011, Razor's Edge, shares the same name as his Brutality in MK:SM. These finishers share the name of an album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC.
  • In MK 2011, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that Goro killed his ancestor.
  • During certain X-Ray Moves, Kung Lao's hat will fall off. However, during certain Fatalities, the hat will stay on Lao's head, even if his head is split in half. The hat will also split in half and remain attached to the halves of Lao's head.
  • Kung Lao's Unfriendly Rabbit may be a reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Both of his Rabbit finishers may also be references to his Friendship in MKII.
  • In the opening cutscene of the MK 2011 Story Mode, Kung Lao is seen dead with the skeleton hands of Shinnok's clone wrapped around him, leading many to believe Shinnok's clone killed him. Lao's hat is also seen in between the split head of Baraka, leading many to believe that Lao killed Baraka.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Kung Lao had his costume reversed: his alternate costume (with long hair) as the main costume and the primary costume (with his trademark hat) as the secondary costume.
  • Early on in the development of MK 2011, his X-Ray was listed as "Kick Of Shaolin," despite no kick ever taking place during the move. Perhaps, it was a typo or in reference to an omitted move. It was fixed in later patches.
  • In the video game Saints Row IV, Pierce Washington dresses as Kung Lao when in his super form. [2]
  • Kung Lao's hat decapitation fatality was the only fatality in Mortal Kombat II where the player had to aim the hat, unlike most finishers, which were triggered instantly.
  • In the video game Divekick, a female character named Kung Pao is a parody of Kung Lao and Kitana.
  • During Kung Lao's Friendship in the SEGA Genesis port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, the dog borrows two of Sheeva's original voice clips.
  • In Chapter 16 of MK 2011, when Quan Chi reveals he has the souls of the fallen Earthrealm Warriors, the undead Kung Lao is seen in his alternate costume, but when Raiden fights him he seen in his primary costume instead.
  • Kung Lao and Ferra & Torr are the only characters in MKX that can successfully combo off their uppercuts without the requirement of additional juggling.
  • In a technical sense, Kung Lao is one of the few characters to be dead in both the original and current timelines.
  • Kung Lao is one of two characters to perform an alternate attack due to a missing item, this being a rising uppercut. The second is Leatherface, who performs a different sweep attack.
  • Kung Lao is one of three Revenant characters to receive only one Revenant outfit. The other two are Jax and Sub-Zero.
  • Kung Lao is the only character in the mobile game of MKX to have his appearance from MK 2011 as a playable character.
  • His Revenant card in the mobile game is the only Challenge Character to grant a class a bar of power, this being for Netherrealm characters.
  • His Hat Trick card is one of three character cards to grant 50% critical damage bonus in the mobile game. The other two are Kold War Sub-Zero and Triborg as Cyrax.
    • Interestingly, he only grants the bonus to Martial Artist characters, while Sub-Zero grants it if the opponent is frozen, and Triborg gives the bonus regardless.
  • Additionally, his Hat Trick card is one of the few characters in the mobile game with a tag in attack.
  • In the DC fighting game Injustice 2, although he is not mentioned by Sub-Zero or Raiden who are featured as playable guest characters, Kung Lao's name appears on some of Raiden's gear.

Errors

  • When Kung Lao performs his Razor's Edge fatality in Mortal Kombat (2011), every opponent clips through the round part of his hat as they are cut in half.
    • Since the round part is in fact there, they shouldn't actually be cut in half in the manner that they are.
  • Due to his combos in the mobile game producing an overabundance of hits, Kung Lao cards generate power much quicker than any card with the standard 100% Power Generation.
  • When performing his X-Ray attack with his Revenant card in the mobile game, his hat is not piercing the opponent's skull whatsoever when he slams them on the ground.
  • In an interaction between Kung Lao and Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 11 Kung Jin is referred to as Lao's nephew instead of cousin.
  • In Mortal Kombat 11, a past Kung Lao has a hair tied in ponytail that reaches his neck in the game, but in Story Mode he is somehow bald like his revenant counterpart in which can be seen in Kitana's chapter where he and Liu Kang disguised as an Osh-Tekk guards.

References

  1. Previously "功老" per Japanese manual of SNES version Mortal Kombat II)
  2. Super Pierce in Saints Row IV
Ashrah | Baraka | Blaze | Bo' Rai Cho | Cassie Cage | Cetrion | Chameleon | Cyrax | D'Vorah | Daegon | Dairou | Darrius | Drahmin | Ermac | Erron Black | Ferra/Torr | Frost | Fujin | Geras | Goro | Havik | Hotaru | Hsu Hao | Jacqui Briggs | Jade | Jarek | Jax Briggs | Johnny Cage | Kabal | Kai | Kano | Kenshi | Khameleon | Kintaro | Kira | Kitana | Kobra | Kollector | Kotal Kahn | Kronika | Kung Jin | Kung Lao | Li Mei | Liu Kang | Mavado | Meat | Mileena | Mokap | Moloch | Motaro | Nightwolf | Nitara | Noob Saibot | Onaga | Quan Chi | Raiden | Rain | Reiko | Reptile | Sareena | Scorpion | Sektor | Shang Tsung | Shao Kahn | Sheeva | Shinnok | Shujinko | Sindel | Skarlet | Smoke | Sonya Blade | Stryker | Sub-Zero | Takeda | Tanya | Taven | Tremor | Triborg

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