Kung Lao is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He made his debut in Mortal Kombat II.

About Kung LaoEdit

Kung Lao is a former Shaolin monk and a member of the former 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. As well, he has sought counsel from master Bo' Rai Cho. Of the Earthrealm warriors, Kung 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 Goldfinger, in which a character named Oddjob threw his derby hat as a weapon.


Mortal Kombat IIEdit

Kung Lao is the last known descendant of the Great Kung Lao, a former Champion of Mortal Kombat, who lost the title to Goro 500 years previously, resulting in Lao's death at Goro's hands and the start of Shang Tsung's rule over the tournament. Like his friend, Liu Kang, Kung Lao is also a member of the White Lotus Society. Kung Lao was originally the one to represent the Shaolin in the Mortal Kombat tournament but he declined, knowing of the consequences of becoming champion. As a result, Liu Kang was chosen and emerged as the winner. When the Shaolin Temples were attacked by Baraka and his Tarkatan soldiers, Liu Kang and Kung Lao resolved to travel through the portal to the Outworld and avenge their fallen Shaolin brothers. Although he joined his friend in his furious quest, Kung Lao's ultimate goal was to rebuild the White Lotus Society at the Wu Shi Academy, in order to train a new generation of warriors for the coming ages. He, along with Liu Kang, ventured into Outworld to do battle with Outworld's forces in a new tournament. Following Shao Kahn's defeat at Liu Kang's hand, the monks returned to Earth and began training the next generation of Shaolin warriors. Kung Lao's character bio was not included in the arcade version of Mortal Kombat 3, but was later made available for the home versions.

Mortal Kombat 3Edit

When Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm came, he had to temporarily scrap his plans for reforming the Society. Eventually, Kung Lao faced Shao Kahn; the Emperor of Outworld defeated Kung Lao and injured him so badly that he was believed to have died. Hearing of Kung Lao's apparent death enraged Liu Kang, as he challenged Shao Kahn and successfully defeated him for the second time.

Mortal Kombat 4Edit

With Outworld driven back, Kung Lao decided not to return to the Shaolin Temples, instead allowing everyone to believe that he was dead and went on to live a life of peace in respect to the beliefs of his ancestors. This would not last long however, as he was drawn away from his newfound peace to help fight against Shinnok's forces, when word reached him that Goro, the Shokan warrior who had killed the Great Kung Lao centuries ago, was still alive. After Shinnok's defeat, Kung Lao attacked Goro, who had signed a peace treaty with the Centaurs under the mediation of Kitana. Instead of being an attempted assassination, however, the blow was a ceremonial strike of vengeance for the Great Kung Lao's death. With this act, the two warriors shook hands, their feud over.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly AllianceEdit

The next years were peaceful. This ended on a brutal note at the time of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, when the sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung united and murdered Liu Kang in a vicious attack (Tsung posing as Kung Lao to get close to the champion). Kung Lao found the body of his longtime friend, and was told immediately by Raiden that Tsung was the assassin, who had formed the Deadly Alliance with Quan Chi. Enraged, Kung Lao vowed revenge upon the sorcerer, and once again abandoned his pacifist Shaolin beliefs. He believed his current skills were insufficient to defeat Shang Tsung so after meeting with the other Earthrealm warriors and traveling to Outworld, Kung Lao sought the advice of the martial arts teacher Bo' Rai Cho. Bo' Rai Cho trained Kung Lao for a short time, teaching him the 'whirlwind kick' maneuver. Together, they joined the other warriors in the assault against the two sorcerers. Kung Lao would not rest until Liu Kang was avenged, and Shang Tsung had paid with his life. Then he invited Bo' Rai Cho to join him in going back to earthrealm and train other earthrealm warriors.

Mortal Kombat: DeceptionEdit

But the assault did not end well. With Liu Kang dead, Raiden and his companions were fighting a losing battle. Kung Lao and Kitana challenged the Deadly Alliance. Kung Lao fought Shang Tsung one on one but because of Shang Tsung's soulnado, the sorcerer was able to keep his power at its peak, making the battle very difficult. Things would get worse as Kung Lao's allies would perish in the battle, one by one. Kitana would fall against Quan Chi and Kung Lao would fall to the hands of Shang Tsung. Despite his improved skills, it wasn't enough and Kung Lao died, leaving only Raiden to battle the Deadly Alliance. However, Kung Lao was revived by Onaga as a slave during the events of Deception. Ermac's Deception ending, which shows him and Liu Kang's spirit being successful in rescuing the enslaved Earthrealm warriors, is generally accepted as the possible explanation of how Kung Lao is freed from Onaga's grasp.

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin MonksEdit

In the adventure game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Kung Lao's character was explored to a greater degree than had been shown in the previous MK games. However, the character presented in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is very different than the Kung Lao seen in Mortal Kombat II through Deadly Alliance. Many fans do not consider the events of Shaolin Monks as canon, as it contradicts the Mortal Kombat II story many times as the game progresses, and Kung Lao fans are also highly critical of his characterization here.

Kung Lao is depicted in Shaolin Monk as feeling almost resentful of Liu Kang's victory in the Shaolin tournament. Although he and Liu Kang are shown to be friends - much of the time - he constantly baits his fellow Shaolin monk, especially regarding Princess Kitana, and the tournament that "Raiden" (in reality, a disguised Shang Tsung) has sent them to compete in. A rivalry between the two Shaolin monks was hence established for the first time in Shaolin Monks. As the two fighters defeated Shang Tsung's warriors, they gained victories in Mortal Kombat, forming a race of sorts to become the Champion of Mortal Kombat. Kung Lao, especially, is seen gloating to Liu Kang that he will win this tournament. This rivalry escalates until the two warriors are convinced that the other has been corrupted by the Outworld.

This character is completely at odds with the Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat Gold and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. In these games it is established that Kung Lao is, at heart, a man of peace; he fights when he must - to defeat Shinnok, to avenge Liu Kang and stop the Deadly Alliance - but, at his core, he wishes to pursue the pacifist ideals of his ancestors, and thus he disappeared after his "death" in Shao Kahn's invasion to live his life according to these principles. In contrast, the Kung Lao in Shaolin Monks is eager to fight, and has an almost desperate need to "beat" Liu Kang in the Outworld, supposedly to "free his ancestors". With the somewhat immature dialogue at times between Liu Kang and Kung Lao in Shaolin Monks, many fans were angry at the way the noble Shaolin monk had been portrayed as a battle-hungry glory-seeker.

Mortal Kombat: ArmageddonEdit

Fujin's bio for Mortal Kombat: Armageddon describes Kung Lao as having joined forces with the God of Wind to bring their former comrades Raiden and Liu Kang under control, with the God of Thunder becoming "as ruthless as Shao Kahn" and Liu Kang's corpse selectively slaying various people. Fujin then goes on to state in his bio that if no way was found to revert the two corrupted warriors back to normal, both he and Kung Lao would be forced to finish them. It is as yet unknown what Kung Lao's outlook on this matter is, at least until his own bio is officially released by Midway.

In his Armageddon ending, Kung Lao goes back in time after defeating Blaze. He meets his old ancestor, and with his blessing, takes his place in the Mortal Kombat tournament. He defeats Goro and becomes the MK Champion and was a legend. As a result, Liu Kang never competed, and his and Kung Lao's rivalry with him never came to be. [1]

With the release of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, it seems - to the disappointment of many fans - that the creative team are considering the rivalry between Liu Kang and Kung Lao as canonical. Kung Lao's ending makes reference to this, stating that he was able to go back in time, stand in for the Great Kung Lao (to his agreement) and defeat Goro 500 years before Liu Kang, ending the rivalry before it started (but this rivalry between them could be friendly, after all, they are friends).


  • Mortal Kombat 2: "A former Shaolin Monk and a member of the White Lotus society, he is the last descendant of the Great Kung Lao who was defeated by Goro 500 years ago. Realizing the danger of the Outworld menace, he joins Liu Kang in entering Shao Kahn's contest."
  • Mortal Kombat 3: "Kung Lao's plan to reform the White Lotus Society comes to a halt when Shao Kahn's invasion takes the earth by storm. As a chosen warrior Kung Lao must use his greatest fighting skills to bring down Shao Kahn's reign of terror."
  • Mortal Kombat Gold: "Many believe that Kung Lao had died in injuries suffered during the final fight against Shao Khan. In fact he had merely turnd to a new life without violence in reverence to his ancestral beliefs. As news of Shinnok's threat reaches Kung Lao together with the apparent return of Goro, Kung Lao returns once more to challenge his ancestor's killer."
  • Deadly Alliance: "Kung Lao was the first to find the body of his friend and fellow Shaolin monk Liu Kang. He later discovered that it was in fact Shang Tsung who had dealt the fatal blow. Enraged, Kung Lao abandoned his Shaolin beliefs and vowed revenge against the sorcerer. He kenew that his fighting skill would not be sufficient to best Shang Tsung. He would need training from the same Outworld master who had taught Liu Kang the one special attack he needed to win the Mortal Kombat tournament so many years ago. Kung Lao traveled to Outworld and informed the martial arts master, Bo' Rai Cho, of Liu Kang's death at the hands of the sorcerer Shang Tsung. Devastated by the news, the old master agreed to teach Kung Lao the flying kick Liu Kang had used to defeat Shang Tsung a decade ago. The training was intense, but Bo' Rai Cho was determined to give Kung Lao a greater edge than he had given Liu Kang. Once Kung Lao had mastered the 'Whirlind Kick', both he and Bo' Rai Cho journeyed across Outworld to deal with the sorcerer Shang Tsung."
  • Shaolin Monks: "The Mortal Kombat tournament was Kung Lao's only opportunity to bring honor to his fallen ancestors. But when he did not receive the approval of the Shaolin to represent them, he disguised himself as a Masked Guard and waited for his moment to strike at the sorcerer Shang Tsung. During the final battle, Kung Lao joined Liu Kang and his new found allies as they did battle against the forces of evil."

Combat characteristicsEdit

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Kung Lao appears to possess similar abilities to Liu Kang when it comes to strength, agility and martial arts. However, those are not his most deadly weapon. Kung 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. Kung 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. In addition, the hat also appears to have magical properties. No matter how far he throws it, or where it'll end up, the hat will always materialize back on Kung Lao's head, as if like an instant boomerang. He appears to also have some degree of teleportation as well.

Signature movesEdit

  • Wind Teleport: Kung Lao goes to the ground and reappears behind his opponent. It could be followed by multiple moves. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Double Pass Teleport: Kung Lao passes twice before appearing behind his opponent. (MKT, MKG, MK:SM)
  • Hat Throw: Kung Lao hurls his hat at the opponent. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Whirlwind Kick: Kung Lao flies towards his opponent spinning like a tornado, doing multiple kicks that knocks them down. (MK:DA, MK:A)
  • 3D Shield / Aura Spinning Shield: 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. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM)
  • Dive Kick: Also called the Bullet Kick, Kung Lao dives down from the air and attacks his opponent. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKG, MK:SM, MK:A)


  • Body Slice: Kung Lao brings his razor hat down, slicing the opponent vertically in half with a clean swipe. (MKII, MK:SM)
  • Hat Decapitation: Kung Lao throws his hat, which arcs upward suddenly, chopping his enemy's head off. (MKII, MKT, MKG)
  • Hat Trick: 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 Throw: Kung Lao throws his hat at the opponent, which gets lodged in their head. He then stomps on the opponent's stomach to retrieve his hat. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, he retrieves it when his opponent is on their knees (MK:DA, MK:SM)
  • Bunny Beatdown: Kung Lao takes off his hat and pulls out a bunny, which his opponent waves at, then proceeds to beat the opponent to death with it. (MK:SM)
  • Bunny Head Cut: Kung Lao once again pulls a bunny out of his hat and throws it at the opponent's neck, then the bunny bites the opponent's head off. (MK:SM)
  • Buzzsaw Hat: Kung Lao takes off his hat and makes it roll continuously on the ground. He then drags his opponent through the buzzsaw groin first. (MK:SM)

Other FinishersEdit

  • Friendship #1: Kung Lao takes a bunny out of his hat. (MKII)
  • Friendship #2: Kung Lao tosses his hat and a dog chases it off screen. The dog yelps loudly and Kung Lao cringes then shakes his head in regret. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
  • Animality: Kung Lao turns into leopard and mauls his dazed opponent. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)


  • Mortal Kombat 2: "A former Shaolin monk alongside Liu Kang, Kung Lao also grieves the loss of their Shaolin brothers. He realizes that his ultimate fate lies in the dark realm of the Outworld. He defeats his Outworld opponents until he emerges the supreme champion. With his strength and dpirit in complete alignment, he finally avenges the death of his great ancestor. Although his greatest challenge lies ahead."
  • Mortal Kombat 3: "When Kahn invades Earth, Kung Lao must scrap his plans of reuniting the White Lotus Society. He instead must focus on the new tournament. He seeks Liu Kang and together, they battle Kahn's forces fearlessly. Using the knowledge he obtained as a Shaolin monk, he fights in the name of his great ancestor- The Original Kung Lao. He emerges victorious, but suffers from injuries during his battle with Kahn. Believed to have passed away, Kung Lao joins his ancestor in a new life."
  • Mortal Kombat Gold: Kitana is with Goro, convincing him to form an alliance against Shao Kahn. But Kung Lao comes in and sees them together. He gets angry and states he doesn't like Kitana being with Goro because Goro killed his ancestor. Kitana tries to get Kung Lao and Goro to sort themselves out and they finally agree and shake hands, ending their rivalry.
  • Deadly Alliance: (Non-canonical) " Rage fueled Kung Lao's thirst for revenge. The memory of holding his fellow monk's broken body on the lei tai of the Wu Shi Academy grounds consumed him as he rained blow after blow down upon Shang Tsung. Kung Lao had finally mastered the attack Bo' Rai Cho had taught him. The sorcerer could not withstand his whirlwind assault. Shang Tsung begged for mercy. Kung Lao granted him none. Upon his return to Earthrealm, Kung Lao stood before the modest shrine to Liu Kang which had been erected by the Wu Shi initiates during his absence in Outworld. He lit a stick of incense and placed it among the others already burning there. He bowed his head and prayed for safe passage to the afterlife for his friend and brother. With Shang Tsung's death, Liu Kang's spirit could rest peacefully. Earthrealm was safe once more, but at terrible cost. The work of the White Lotus society had become more important than ever."
  • Armageddon: "The power released by his victory over Blaze opened a portal, and Kung Lao found himself in Earthrealm hundreds of years in the past. His ancestor allowed him to enter the Mortal Kombat tournament in his stead. Kung Lao defeated Goro and won the tournament, becoming a legend. As a result, Liu Kang never competed, and Kung Lao's rivalry with him never came to be."

Appearances in other mediaEdit

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 ovethrow the Emperor Shao Kahn. During the comics, he shares a very close relation with Kitana, contradicting the games' official story about Liu 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 shapeshifting 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.

Character RelationshipsEdit

  • Descendant of the Great Kung Lao.
  • Friend and Ally of Liu Kang.
  • Wants to kill Goro for the death of his ancestor.
  • Almost killed by Shao Kahn in MK3.
  • Almost challenged Goro after MK Gold, but shook hands instead.
  • Almost killed Baraka after MK Gold.
  • Wants to get revenge against Shang Tsung for killing Liu Kang. Eventually Shang Tsung killed him.
  • Resurrected by Onaga to serve him.
  • Freed from Onaga's spell by Ermac.
  • Joined Fujin to fight Raiden and Zombie Liu Kang.
  • Kung Lao and Liu Kang became allies again in armageddon.
  • Joined Fujin, Raiden and Zombie Liu Kang to fight against evil in Armageddon.
  • Possible connection to Li Mei

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