A descendant of The Great Kung Lao, Kung Lao is one of Lord Raiden's most respected warriors. His razor-brimmed hat is his primary weapon, which he uses to great effect via teleportation. Somewhat mysterious in nature, he does not talk much. He works with other champions of Earthrealm to train Cole Young in Lord Raiden's temple in order to prepare him for Mortal Kombat against the enemies from Outworld.
When the champions of Earthrealm being their training at Lord Raiden's temple, Kano is especially interested in what sort of superpower he will get by unlocking his arcana. He suggests that it might be lightning or fireballs, or a "frisbee hat," seeing Kung Lao, then comments "No offense, whoever you are." Kung introduces himself as "Kung Lao, descendant of the Great Kung Lao." Liu Kang explains "the grand champion of the Order of Light," but Kano, nonplussed, replies "Never heard of him." Liu then explains that both he and Kung have discovered their arcana and that they are tasked with helping the champions unlock theirs.
The training beings with Cole Young battling Kung Lao one-on-one. Although Cole seems to hold out fairly well at first, Kung eventually waylays him using his razor-brimmed hat, explaining that talent can only take you so far in Mortal Kombat. He then lets Liu Kang spend some time battling Kano and when Kano does not perform well at all, comments dryly that they have their work cut out for them. Later, they return to the training, but Kung once again easily defeats Cole.
That evening, during dinner, Kano mocks Kung Lao as "Kung Pao," asking him to pass him an egg roll. Kung instead takes the egg roll for himself, telling him that he might want to lay off the egg rolls, that he wouldn't be ready to fight if he had a hundred days to train. He calls Kano a fat, lazy pig and a terrible fighter with zero skill. He continues that combat takes intelligence, but Kano is like a dog that fails his training classes. He and the others continue to mock Kano until, in his anger, he unlocks his arcana', the ability to shoot red laser beams from his right eye.Following this incident, Cole Young, having failed to find his arcana, is sent back home to his wife and child. Meanwhile, Shang Tsung and his forces of Outworld attack Raiden's temple, the group having been betrayed by Kano. During the fight, Kung attempts to take out Shang himself but Shang simply uses his magic to push away his hat, declaring him beneath him. He then summons Nitara to take him out, saying "Now destroy him, my beauty." As she prepares to swoop, Kung centers himself, such that he is more than ready when the attack comes. He transports his hat to the ground and spins it up, such that when Nitara dives, she is too late to stop herself from careening right towards it. It splits her in two, her blood splattering his face. He then picks up the hat and restores it to his head, declaring "Flawless victory." He spins the hat and Shang grunts in anger.
Afterwards, Lord Raiden transports Cole Young back to the temple when he finds his arcana after defeating Goro. Shang orders Sub-Zero to attack him and Kung attempts to stop him. Shang, however, uses his magic to drag Kung Lao over to him, declaring his soul to be his. He shouts for Liu Kang, who is being held by the throat by Kabal. Kabal explains to Liu that Kung is about to get his soul sucked out, saying that he loves the scream. Liu punches him out and runs out, but can only watch as Shang sucks Kung's soul in a green mist, leaving his body a withered husk. Cole restrains him and then the remainder of the fighters are transported to the Void by Raiden, a safe area where Shang cannot touch them. Here, Liu expresses that he and Kung Lao were supposed to die together. He says that Earthrealm is lost without Kung Lao, but Cole replies that isn't over, that they must still fight.
Unlike many of his fellow stars, Kung Lao actor Max Huang was first introduced to Mortal Kombat via the earlier films of the franchise and then became a full-fledged fan. He played the game in order to refamiliarize himself with his character's fighting style. His appearance is based on the Shaolin monks of China, though his hat is actually a Korean-style hat.
- Mortal Kombat - Official Production Notes. Pop Culture Fun (April 4, 2021). Retrieved on April 20, 2021.