Are Liu Kang and Kung Lao Related?



Have you ever wondered if Liu Kang and Kung Lao are related? Well, I have, and if you’re watching this video, chances are you have too. And we’re not alone. Recently I’ve been involved in a discussion over the YouTube comments section on this very topic.

Now Liu Kang and Kung Lao have a lot of shared history together. They’ve both gone to the Order of Light temple, they’ve both trained at the Wu Shi Academy, they’re both members of the White Lotus Society. But when they refer to each other as Shaolin brothers, that’s just figurative language. They’re not actually brothers.

Still, could these two defenders of Earthrealm be related by blood? The easiest way to find out is to trace their ancestry.

If you go back to the very beginning, and look at Mortal Kombat 1, there was a trading card set released by Classic which clearly shows that Liu Kang is descended from a Shaolin monk who defeated Shang Tsung 500 years ago. Of course, they’re referring to the Great Kung Lao, who was shown here in the John Tobias Mortal Kombat comic book, when he first defeated Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat. And even though it’s set in a different universe, that point was made even more explicitly clear in the Mortal Kombat movie.

Liu Kang: “I am Liu Kang, descendant of Kung Lao! I challenge you to Mortal Kombat!”

Going back to the games, Liu Kang’s ancestry was reinforced further in Mortal Kombat 4 in Goro’s intro, where it was stated that Goro took the Mortal Kombat title from the original Kung Lao, only to have it won from him nine generations later by Lao’s ancestor, Liu Kang. Now, they should have said Lao’s descendant, Liu Kang, as Liu Kang is the descendant and Kung Lao is the ancestor. But that’s okay; we know what they meant.

Mortal Kombat II introduced us to a modern Kung Lao who was described as the last descendant of the original Kung Lao. The LAST descendant? Uh-oh, that can’t be right... unless... maybe nobody knows that Liu Kang is also a descendant.

And if you look at his ending in Mortal Kombat 3, it’s revealed that Kung Lao doesn’t survive. He joins his ancestor, The Great Kung Lao, in the afterlife. Now, later games would reveal that he had survived after all and that he had just faked his death... but still, the part about his ancestry should hold up as canon.

So there you have it–Liu Kang and Kung Lao are related. They’re both descended from the Great Kung Lao from 500 years ago, making them distant cousins. But in Mortal Kombat (2011), there would be another shocking revelation concerning Kung Lao’s identity.

Narrator: “Kung Lao had avenged his ancestor’s death and saved Earthrealm from Shao Kahn’s brutality. In quiet reflection with Raiden at the grave of the Great Kung Lao, he touched the modest stone marker. Images of past events, moments of someone else’s life, flashed through his mind, concluding with a lost battle against Goro. Raiden theorized that Kung Lao had unlocked memories of his past life. The Kung Lao that stood before Raiden was in fact the reincarnation of the Great Kung Lao, who had been defeated by Goro 500 years ago. He had accomplished in the present what he could not in the past.”

So, everything seems pretty straightforward. Let’s conclude with a clip from Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where you can actually see Liu Kang and Kung Lao’s ancestor.

Liu Kang: “Look!”

Kung Lao: “Who...? Is that me?”

Ancestor 1: “You have failed to win the Mortal Kombat tournament! Take your place as my servant!”

Ancestor 2: “I should have won! I was betrayed!”

Ancestor 1: “You are a fool to defy honor!”

Ancestor 2: “Honor is the very thing I fight for.”

Liu Kang: “That is not you. Remember what Raiden said? They are our ancestors.”

Kung Lao: “Raiden said triumphs and failures. I wonder what happened.”

*The ancestors disappear before the monks’ very eyes*

Kung Lao: “What was that all about?”

Liu Kang: “I do not know.”

I don’t know either! What the hell was that? Everything made perfect sense until Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks came along! I can’t explain that. I can’t explain that.

Bill O’Reilly: “You can’t explain that.”