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- NOTE: This page is about Liu Kang from the original mainstream. For Mortal Kombat Legends's version, see Liu Kang (Mortal Kombat Legends), and the 2021 version, see Liu Kang (2021).
|“||For Kung Lao, the Shaolin and Earthrealm!||„|
|~ Liu Kang, before he delivers a killing blow to Shao Kahn.|
|“||You... have killed us... all!||„|
|~ Liu Kang's last words, after being mortally wounded by Raiden.|
|“||Show me what you can do.||„|
|~ Liu Kang's Battle Cry in Mortal Kombat (2011).|
|“||Enough of your madness. If you must die, so be it.||„|
|~ As Liu Kang tries to stop Raiden's anger in Mortal Kombat 11; a quote that Raiden had memorized during Shao Kahn's last invasion.|
|“||Yes, Kronika. You were right to fear a combined power between Raiden’s and mine.||„|
|~ Fire God Liu Kang to Kronika, learning she is indeed right to fear his and Raiden’s fusion into foiling her schemes.|
Liu Kang (Chinese: 劉鋼) is a Shaolin monk who is a member of the White Lotus Society and one of the main protagonists of the Mortal Kombat video game series.
At his debut, Liu Kang appeared to be among the dime a dozen Bruce Lee pastiches; an adult of Chinese origin with a bare chest, black pants and white sneakers. From MKII and onward, he is depicted with shaggy black hair (even though Shaolin monks are bald), a red headband, spiked gauntlets, red and black kung fu pants, and kung fu slippers; still keeping his upper body bare (except in Mortal Kombat 4 where he has a tank top). This design is one of the most consistent in the series.
He is depicted as a zombie in Mortal Kombat: Deception. He gains a ghastly grey tint on his decaying skin, showing the most damage on his peeling face. He retains his usual attire, but now wears a pair of chains with hooks attached to his gauntlets. In MK vs DCU, Liu Kang has greater muscle mass than most characters in the roster and wears a championship belt. In MK 2011, Kang's appears with a red sash brandishing the Elder Gods' symbol instead of the belt. His physical appearance is altered once more, with longer hair and a more well-rounded physique. Kang loses a lot of skin when taking damage due to his lack of armor or layered clothes.
In Mortal Kombat X, Liu Kang has become one of Quan Chi's Revenants and since has become a dark version of himself twisted by the sensibilities of the Netherrealm. While he still possesses the familiar glowing yellow veins and glowing eyes as other characters, he now sports a dark, armored uniform made from steel, leather and dragon scales. His hair has grown past shoulder length and keeps it tied like a ponytail. While he retains his iconic headband, it has been tattered. As Emperor of the Netherrealm, he dons a full set of spiky armor with the familiar trappings of a denizen of the Netherrealm. In his default "what-if" form, he has aged significantly like most other characters; his hair the same length as it is as a revenant, but now grey from aging. He also wears a red and black vest with a black dragon decal.
In Mortal Kombat 11, though his dark future-present counterpart retains his first revenant outfit, his past-iteration from the third timeline retains his Mortal Kombat 2/3 outfit, before he wears a yin yang kung fu shirt upon returning the future-present of Earthrealm afterwards since arriving at the timeline’s Outworld.
The continual use of dragons and the MK logo in Liu Kang's techniques, his costumes in recent games, and recurring Fatalities (e.g. his Arcade Drop) all reinforce the perception that Kang is the mascot of the series. However, this has never actually been confirmed by the developers.
Liu Kang is the biggest threat to Shao Kahn's plans and has single-handedly won in the two previous Mortal Kombat Tournaments. Thus, he is a very dedicated and courageous man. He carries the title "Shaolin Champion" and is undoubtedly one of the greatest martial artists on the planet.
For this reason (and the previous setbacks of Outworld) Liu Kang constantly finds himself as the number one target for Shao Kahn's troops, and he generally takes this calmly.
He probably has the personality of a fighting monk: insightful and cool, but in combat strong, fast and merciless. Home is his training camp and the temple and his hobby used to be to create shadow puppets around the campfire. In combat he tends to be very noisy focusing his powers, screaming and intimidating his opponents and apparently also because it sometimes hurts so much to fight.
Regardless, the man is a true hero and a living legend.
His past-self from the second timeline brought by Kronika, is willingly to atone his future-present-self’s sins of being Shinnok and Quan-Chi’s revenants, as well as including of realizing that he and Raiden are being played by Kronika in her machinations in all timelines. Raiden later fuses with him and absorbs the revenant Liu Kang to become Fire God Liu Kang, who destroys the revenant forms of Kitana, Kung Lao, and Jade and defeats Cetrion, who sacrifices herself to power Kronika.
Liu Kang later defeats and kills Kronika and Raiden, now a mortal man, appears and passes on his title as protector of Earthrealm to him.
Powers and Abilities
Liu Kang is a highly skilled fighter as seen due to his victory in every Mortal Kombat tournament. He is an extremely skilled martial artist, possessing incredible acrobatic skills and agility and knowledge in a variety of techniques. Kang is able to perform a powerful flying kick attack, use a bicycle kick, and send out fireballs from his hands that take the shape of dragon heads. These fireballs are part of fire element theme to Kang, which also is involved with some of his fatalities. It also suggested that he regularly increases and maintains his strength through mediation and as champion of Mortal Kombat, he never ages.
- Liu Kang is the longest running protagonist in franchise history, playing the hero for an entire decade. However, in recent years, he has been written into increasingly-antagonistic roles, starting as a monstrous zombie beginning in Mortal Kombat Deception and culminating in becoming an anger-driven enemy in Mortal Kombat (2011), resulting in his accidental death at Raiden's hands. Throughout Mortal Kombat X 's story mode, though he is an unwillingly evil revenant, his behavior portrays him as a self-centered, taunting and vengeful warrior, while his human form in the game's Arcade mode portrays him as jaded and self-aggrandizing. He eventually returns to his protagonistic role in Mortal Kombat 11.
- Liu Kang is the only character to have a fatality that does not kill the opponent, his original one, which was done because he was supposed to be a pacifistic monk character.
- Upon him beating Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat II, the usual occurrence of Kahn's voice announcing him as winner is replaced with the monk giving off a small war cry.
- The hooked chains that are attached to Liu Kang's arms have been in much demand to be used as his weapon fighting style, especially after he used them in the intro to Armageddon to attack Shang Tsung. These were later revealed by Raiden's Armageddon bio to be enchanted shackles used by a group of necromancers to control their undead. The thunder god had used their spells to turn Kang's body into a zombie, which is why he put the chains on the corpse.
- He deals double damage to Onaga in Deception.
- Liu Kang's alternate costumes in Armageddon and Deception depict him as a human or at least his soul fused with his body.
- His name was originally going to be Minamoto Yoshitsune, a legendary Japanese mythological character, but John Tobias decided the name was too long to deal with.
- Liu Kang was portrayed by Ho Sung Pak in the first two games, the same actor who ironically portrayed Shang Tsung in the first game.
- The Human Tornado, a pro wrestler, uses a move called the Liu Kang Kick, in homage to the character.
- Liu Kang was intended to be a secret surprise character in Deception. He is the most difficult to unlock and was meant to shock fans that their hero had been brought back as such a corrupted being.
- In the Flash's ending in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, he and Liu Kang form a psychic connection that allows them to warn each other if their worlds are threatened again, due to earlier events.
- Liu Kang is the only character that has his own voice file for every game he appeared in, consisting of "kiai," a shout that is said to maximize the force of the user's attacks. His voice in dialogue changed from a regular casual voice in Shaolin Monks to one with more of an Asian accent in Mortal Kombat vs. DC.
- Liu Kang's original fatality and his fatality from MK2, where he turned into an Asian-style dragon to bite off top of his opponent's body, was voted second on Screwattack's Top 10 Lists of Worst Mortal Kombat and Best Mortal Kombat Fatalities respectively.
- Liu Kang's official theme is titled, "Born in China."
- He is the second video game character to be based on Bruce Lee, another character is Kim Dragon and Marshall Law.