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

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 retconned in MK 2011, wherein Lao is now eager to prove himself equal to Liu Kang. He is also shown to be highly conceited and immature, although these traits mask a deep-seated insecurity and inferiority complex vis a vis Liu Kang. Much like Liu Kang, he has trained under 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 weapon is his Razor-Rimmed Hat in 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 the character Oddjob throws his derby hat as a deadly chakram-like weapon. His appearance is probably inspired by the character from the 1984 movie Breakin'.

Theme songs[]

Kung Lao: Tempest (MKX) - Statronica

Kung Lao (MK11)

Shaolin Monks theme song (fanmade): Choosing - Paul Unfaces | Mortal Kombat 2 OST (2023)

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Part II[]

Kung Lao was made as the star of Ikran's fanfic for MK, while Liu Kang would have some minor roles. After Kung Lao assisted Liu Kang against Shang Tsung, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn respectively, Raiden assured he has freed his ancestors of their inability by working together to protect Earthrealm.

He headed and stayed at the Wu Shi Academy, only to pay his respects, and reunite with his long, lost nephew, Kung Jin! The boy was thrilled to see him again, and he was still confident he'd make it back in one piece after a few weeks. Jin always believed Lao's capable of carrying on their ancestors' legacy and being one of the best Shaolin Monks and protectors of Earth.

He then overheard a distraught monk and he stated to him that he and Liu Kang are cursed to live for eternity by the Elder Gods after winning the two tournaments. He stated the Great Kung Lao also suffered the same fate and watched each of his friends and family suffer from illness and advanced age where he remained young! Lao didn't want to believe it, but the curse bestowed by the Elder Gods was irreversible.

Heartbroken, he just sulked at one of the balconies while the celebration continued. He asked Raiden, and the Thunder God confirmed this. He offered to discuss it, but the doomed monk left the Academy. It was revealed he was in such a depressed stupor, that he didn't notice he was put under a comatose state for a few months. Eventually, he woke up in the streets and refused to get mingled with drunkards. He then spotted a damsel in distress and came to her aid from a ruthless predator! He escorted the woman to safety, introducing herself as Aiko Krackle. She mentioned she was clueless winding up at a different time, while Lao noticed he was in New Jersey rather than in China; he was hardly out of his comfort zone. And he wondered if Raiden was responsible for teleporting him. After finding a safe haven, he and Aiko settled for the night.

By the next day, he offered her some green tea and had a heartfelt discussion. He assured her that the Shaolin are a peaceful people compared to those outside of the Academy, as Aiko became paranoid on the Chinese being militaristic. He also stated that the Shaolin uphold the Order of Light, even resisting their biological urges, as fornication was forbidden, and live a life of celibacy and peace. They must stay on the alert for any outside threats both foreign and domestic. He once offered Aiko to come with him so he can teach her his ways, but he backpedaled as she was reluctant. Then, his mentor caught up with them.

Raiden realized Aiko, at least her younger self who functioned as the heart of the warriors, resolving internal conflicts between them. He was surprised Aiko grew up so fast, and it was the main reason why he brought Lao to the Jersey streets. He then offered to awaken Aiko's lost powers, based in her heart and mind. She even told Kung Lao she met him when she was six, thus recognizing him after he saved her the night before, while also mentioning he looked like a cowboy which seemed awkward to him. Raiden then escorted the pair to where his allies were.

Kung Lao took the fight to the stragglers from Outworld involving Komodai and the Saurians, though he mistakenly called him as Reptile, whom he killed at his lair in the Living Forest. He took him out seamlessly and prevented the Saurian army from escaping with his fatal Tornado! He reunited with Liu Kang, Sonya, Kitana, Jax, even Sub-Zero and met Stryker. Raiden offered them to return to their hidden base, and Lao took a Dragon Jet with Liu Kang and Kitana.

He was inside an opaque chamber within the Kombatants' hidden cave, the base the team had been using over the past trimester. He was sitting with Nightwolf and Kiba as Aiko slipped under during his first meditation session; she was incoherent, though Lao was the sober one attaining her slurs on what she was seeing, feeling, and hearing. By the time the episode was over, Aiko stated it was the last time her younger self saw the Kombatants, over 16 years ago in her time. She witnessed the so-called final battle as Shao Kahn was about to lose his throne to Kitana, however, there was a lethal scrimmage that broke out between the Shokan and Centaurs; according to Aiko, she was at base when all this happened, and Nightwolf said she was experiencing that event from a different perspective. Kung Lao came to the conclusion that Kahn's close to regaining his lost strength and invade Earthrealm! He was anxious to stop him since Lao's victory was in vain. Raiden, for once, went lenient and offered the team a little R&R since there was little activity in Outworld since the war.

Kung Lao then decided to take Aiko to the Wu Shi Academy, though he was flattered that Liu Kang was offered by Kitana to scout Outworld, stating Liu's gonna be with his girlfriend, to which the princess added they had a true bond as she sneered at Lao remembering him killing Jade.

He was then reunited with his fellow monks, as well as his nephew, Kung Jin. He shown Aiko the rounds, and she was surprised they were able to learn fluent English. Lao stated they learned it due to Great Britain owning Hong Kong, much to her shock! He then offered for her to stay with Jin while he settled business with the elders of Light. Liu's grandpa was glad to see him, and even he had his doubts Earthrealm would be safe for long. He noticed Lao's angsts of his eternal curse, though he mustn't worry, nor let the pressures of defending Earth, Jin, Aiko, his teammates nor his shaking faith in Raiden take the best of him.

Lao then beheld the massive portal open over Earth and the sky suddenly turned red, while Raiden was losing his strength. He took on a few of the Centaurs as they ransacked the Academy, while most of the monks headed to the Dragon Grotto. Lao strategized using his teleport and drop kicks onto their upper bodies and spines, and he was very nimble avoiding their charges, similar to subduing wild horses. Lao and Raiden were successful, though the god was still losing strength. He met up with Jin and Aiko, and Raiden suggested him and the novice to head to Nightwolf's sacred land. They were waiting for the arrival of the other Kombatants.

Kung Lao's MK3 attire in Ikran's story

The trio arrived at the East Coast and Raiden suggested to seek out the reservation straight ahead. However, he warned him that Aiko is fragile and handicapped. He questioned how and why she would be of any use. Raiden stated her heart and mind must be guarded, and he relied on Kung Lao to do so, like the anchor to her buoy; especially since growing up she's susceptible to Indian customs. He led her to the village which was protected and intact thanks to Nightwolf's shaman skills. He greeted the duo and the Matoka needed to have them prepared by discovering their own spiritual animals, in other words, their Animalities. Both Lao and Aiko became drowsy from Gray Cloud's intense incents, and Lao found himself in the middle of a scrimmage between some shades and his friends aging rapidly and being powerless. Lao was able to create a distraction, but the shadows fled. The determined monk gave chase, and every time they fled faster, he ran and gained on them! To the point on running on all fours and leapt toward his prey!

Kung Lao hit his head on the ground floor, stunning him and causing him to stir. Nightwolf came to the conclusion he was able to use his cheetah Animality! They then watched over Aiko and noticed she changed into an Ankylosaurus, until she came to. Nightwolf said they can only use their new honed skills when the time is right. Aiko was stunned he was able to turn into a cheetah since they weren't Chinese natives. The trio soon emerged from the shaman's teepee, with Kung Lao wearing a new, flimsier outfit! Nightwolf suggested to head north and follow the immense evil he sensed, and travel discreetly to Kahn's lair.

He, Aiko and Nightwolf made a small, temporary camp. They wanted to test Aiko's heart abilities more till they've heard a sudden rumble of thunder. He and the Matokan claimed it to be Raiden, contrary to Aiko's astraphobia. The Indian urged them to follow the darkness, till they spotted some distant ice slabs, belonging to a certain elemental ninja. Kung Lao was the first to confront his pursuing enemy, Oniro, who was about to finish off Kuai and Smoke, the pair of Lin Kuei fugitives. In his cheetah Animality, following Aiko's idea, he was at an even keel till the transformation wore off. He was vulnerable in the skin, even enough to be knocked off the precipice... And he managed to make a sneak attack behind the Grandmaster's neck via his teleportation!! He then conjured a Tornado, never allowing Oniro to escape in his hawk form! Aiko stunned him thanks to her lethal cardiokinesis, killing off the master! The trio reunited with Sub-Zero and Smoke, and the Cyber transported them to the New York streets.

The quintet watched the lethal battle with Kabal and Stryker losing to Sektor. He stayed while Smoke offered his aid and Sub-Zero was desperate to make sure he wouldn't perish. He and Nightwolf lend their moral support to Aiko, as the anchors to her buoy, amongst the chaos. Thru their comfort, they increased her cardiokinesis stunning the assassin, allowing Sub-Zero to freeze him, and Smoke teleporting him away before he self-destructed! The trio regathered with the Lin Kuei escapees with Kabal and Stryker, before they had a surprise invasion led by Tarkatans and Shadow Priests! Lao was a match against the ground forces; however, he was struck down as bolts from the shades aimed to the metal rim on his hat!! The warriors were stunned once they electrocuted and abducted Smoke! He, Stryker and Sub-Zero led the salvage mission to Kahn's Fortress.

Sub-Zero was still anxious on finding the rogue cyborg, though Stryker assured they'll find him and made sure he stayed alive. Kung Lao didn't mind the altercation; all he saw was Aiko, with her face glowing by Nightwolf's makeshift campfire and sat down beside her. He offered to see what the fragile Kombatant had seen, the same dystopian future in which he and several others had been zombified. She also said Raiden was unsuccessful on saving them, even his nephew, Sonya, Johnny and herself. Lao was surprised there were only 5 survivors, and he became anxious on seeing and feeling her angsts, as he coaxed, he has more endurance than her. Nightwolf made the offer but warned it'd be a dangerous procedure; he still pushed forward, and visions of himself dying in various ways haunted the duo! Even the two sorcerers he never encountered before who led those devastating invasions!

He and Aiko broke off, with the latter more distraught. All he did was watch her anxieties go thru the roof, even though Nightwolf urged her to focus on the here and now. She was just unable to, and all Kung Lao had done was just look into her eyes and felt her. Thru his warmth and comfort, not to mention she hadn't been held by someone in eons, Lao's embrace was what soothed her, despite sharing her own heart and the conduit between them. They became spent from the experience, and their love lulled them to sleep...

Hours later, they woke up by Nightwolf, and Stryker declared company was coming thru the darkened ends of the tunnels, which turned out to be Liu Kang, Jax, Sonya and Kitana! Lao was humbled to see his Shaolin partner again and they caught up. The monks discussed that Raiden was hospitalized inside the Sky Temple, and the Jinsei was beginning to wilt. There isn't much time to stop Shao Kahn and the permanent merger, as it'd render both him and the two realms powerless. Both Lao and Liu led the charge to Shao Kahn's lair!

Shao Kahn sent out more of his extermination squads consisting of the usual Tarkatans, Shadow Priests and Centaurs. The enemies were suddenly ambushed by each of the heroes' own Animalities, even Aiko's new Ankylosaur and Kung Lao's cheetah assisting her! Over half of the invaders were assassinated by them, until they gave away from enduring too much damage reducing them to their human vessels. By the time Aiko changed back, Kung Lao actually subconsciously forced himself to morph back to protect her. Each one of the heroes continued to break thru the defense lines, and Kitana was the first to do so. Liu Kang followed her to Kahn's Fortress, as did Kung Lao, Aiko and Nightwolf albeit several feet away.

Sindel let out a deafening shriek which stunned all the advancing Kombatants! Kung Lao immediately covered over Aiko as she was barely able to use her cardiokinesis, expanding Sindel's heart just enough to exhaust her and seize her banshee screams! She restored both of her anchors, but they recommended her to stay within the covers of the dark alleyways. Nightwolf and Kung Lao rushed into the bowels of Kahn's Fortress and the monk was the first to see Smoke chained against the rear wall over a pillar peeking thru the lava! He teleported over the gap, but his hat left him shocked; Nightwolf theorized they must conquer over Kahn if they can save him. They soon arrived in the Temple and for once Kung Lao wasn't fazed of Liu's and Kitana's relationship. The Matokan sensed the immense darkness ahead, and Liu offered to stay with the women counting an unconscious Sindel for a while.

Kung Lao and Nightwolf arrived in the Soul Chamber and were flabbergasted of the monstrous display encasing all the unfortunate souls, even Johnny's and their ancestors'. All of a sudden, Sheeva made an ambush from the opaque ceiling and challenged the heroes! The shaman offered to fight off the Shokan, while Lao'd advance up to the Balcony. At first, he wanted to assist him, but he watched from the sidelines. Thanks to his soul manipulation and remembering Lao's strategy on keeping his distance, he was able to win over Sheeva, even enduring her lethal Shokan Jumps!! Kung Lao was relieved, and he headed up to the Balcony. At first the place was silent and empty, until his sharp senses detected Motaro's advances!! He recognized the Centaur was more broader and stronger than the ones he defeated while the Wu Shi Academy was invaded! He noticed it was the same murderer that killed Johnny Cage!! He immediately took him on, and because of the limited space and Motaro's body covering up most of the arena, Lao was put into a disadvantage. Even when he started mimicking his teleports, the beast's brutality was nearly too much!! Lao was desperate to end the fight in his favor as he used his sharp hat, but...

Motaro was able to deflect it from his lower chest straight back into the receiver!!! Lao was completely immobilized as he was bleeding profusely and was thrown against a sharp end of a statue with his back!! He was at the monster's mercy, until Jax intervened with a quake! Lao disappeared within a flash. Raiden barely managed to teleport Lao to the Jinsei Chamber, though they were unable to recuperate him... Aiko was devastated as she witnessed her lover's death, even after confessing her feelings for him...

Visions of Kung Lao, along with Chan and other fallen warriors, had entered into Liu Kang's mind, making him power up and unleash his pent-up energy onto Shao Kahn, causing him to fall off the narrow bridge of the Pit 3 and into the spinning blades obliterating his body and soul!! The world was able to recover itself and the skies cleared, while Raiden, Aiko and Asgaarth watched from the summit of the Sky Temple! The Jinsei was restored, as was Raiden's powers. Aiko immediately came to Lao's side as he began to breathe, and she greeted him with a kiss on his forehead. Lao's vision cleared, relieved to see her and to have his curse reversed; however, he was still dreading over Liu Kang's curse since he won thrice... He assured he can deal with it being ageless as he was still mortal; this made Aiko and Lao dumbfounded. Raiden assured he'll discuss the matter with the Elder Gods, and they'd be easier to negotiate with on account of Earthrealm thriving in strength and proving to the Elder Gods it's capable of defending from other realms. Lao offered to stay in the Jinsei and rest more, relieving his fatigue and aching body. Raiden reminded him that his nephew's worried for him, and he mustn't linger on his doubts on not having the peace last for long. Lao was pessimistic of Aiko's future, as well as the two sorcerers that were strangers to them... He eventually rested and accepted Aiko staying with him. They made a passionate kiss before they slumbered....

Hours later, he and Aiko looked out at the glorious sunset, and Raiden offered to teleport them home to the Wu Shi Academy. There, it was actually quiet once the monks emerged from the hatch of the Dragon Grotto, and Jin was ecstatic to see them both safe and sound! Lao gave his nephew a tight, warm embrace saying he was so glad to see him! He didn't mind taking up Liu Kang's absence as he was often busy watching over and Edenia's restoration. He still reformed the White Lotus Society and remained as a close friend to Aiko, training her cardiokinesis, educating her on the monks' culture and having her as a new member of the organization.

Despite the perpetual peace in both realms, he still felt uneasy that something was brewing at the heart of Earthrealm...

A Date and a Destiny[]

Kung Lao's spiffy outfit during his date with Aiko

Kung Lao and Aiko noticed Liu Kang pack in a dragon-shaped canoe, and he was startled he was leaving the Academy behind to pursue a more democratic, peaceful lifestyle, while also looking for more potential Shaolin Monks in order to give the Academy a promising future. He questioned if Raiden told him to do this, but it was by Liu's own intentions. He actually wanted to put him in charge of the Shaolin in Liu's stead. At first Lao was reluctant, but then he grew prouder, and he won't let him down! Everyone wished him a bon voyage.

Minutes later he invited Aiko to take her out for a date, and word got out to the other monks. When Aiko was taking in some air after the constant shifting around and the suffocating cosmetics, Raiden stated to her that Kung Lao's mind kept regretting his ancestor on failing to protect Jen. He assured that Aiko should make it a good date, and that everyone has a right for their own destiny; Lao shalln't be cursed to live the same fates as his ancestor did. He met Aiko with a spiffier outfit and escorted her thru the Academy grounds. They went to a nearby pagoda which turned out to be a Hibachi restaurant! He ordered a beef Hibachi while Aiko ordered a Fish, and she was fascinated with the place! After having a Myoki soup appetizer and fried ice cream, Aiko appreciated their first date, even the greeter did the same! Lao was grateful for her, and they leaned in for a passionate kiss.

Until she first noticed a distant cry coming from a random monk. Kung Lao's keen vision followed the uproar to the Warrior Shrine, and it was an elderly man who seamlessly took out several of them! He demanded to find Earthrealm's Champion, then the monks pleaded that he left. The skilled geezer then heard a tenor speak behind him, in came Kung Lao. The stranger was enthralled, and the challenger introduced himself as Kung Lao, the descendant of the Great Kung Lao; he challenged him to Mortal Kombat, and the old man accepted. Lao said he was the second best, next to Liu Kang, and took him on. After several minutes of strenuous kombat, Fujin easily won over Lao, even overpowering him with his more advanced aerokinesis! He held Kung Lao still before he was healed. The monks received minimal damage, and he went by the name of Fujin. He criticized Lao he still had much to learn, though he seemed to have the potential to meet and even surpass his ancestor. He wanted to train his aerokinesis, and if he's interested, he shall find Fujin back at the Wu Shi Arena. Little did Lao knew this was in preparation for the war involving the Elder Gods.

Shinnok's Uprising[]

Kung Lao's appearance in Shinnok's Uprising

Kung Lao was still training with Fujin at the Wind World after a couple years. His prowess has improved immensely, and Aiko often decided to come along as his mediator. The monks were functioning well too even during Liu's absence. And his nephew was advancing in his education, even partaking in a karate class. Although, not everything was glorious, as he, Aiko, Nightwolf and even Fujin had been receiving night terrors of an ominous sorcerer. Fujin identified him as the fallen Elder God, Shinnok, whom he believed has risen from the Netherrealm after thousands of years. Fujin then sensed the oncoming threat within the heavens and immediately evacuated Lao and Aiko to the Wu Shi Academy via funnel!

While there, Lao and Aiko were alarmed on the whereabouts of him and Raiden! Following their cries, in came Nightwolf and Kiba! The shaman offered them to hightail in a Dragon Jet and chase after the fallen comet he spotted with his high-tech equipment; thinking it might be one of the fallen Gods, Lao didn't hesitate! They discussed about their terrors before the Makotan spotted the ambush inside the crater! The trio fought off the demons and assisted the monks, Liu and Kai! Before introductions were made, Raiden warned of the oncoming threat. They must gather all of Earthrealm's warriors in order to prevent the same catastrophe long ago!

Lao and company met up with Sonya, Sub-Zero and a resurrected Johnny Cage!! Everyone was thrilled to have the agent, cryomancer and celebrity back! Before Sonya, thanks to Nightwolf's soul manipulation, was able to create a portal leading into Edenia. He and his team accepted Quan Chi's challenge in his new Mortal Kombat tournament if they should fight thru the Army of Darkness and enter the corrupt Edenian Palace.

He followed Liu who led the team descending some steep hills toward the empty vicinity of the Palace as they were ambushed by the Army of Darkness. Lao even used his hat both as a weapon and shield. He was amazed his skills were quicker and stronger than before, courtesy of all that strenuous training by Fujin! He did recall the ominous face as he'd seen Quan Chi in his disturbing visions. Nevertheless, the group were being overwhelmed by the generals! He and Liu still recognized the Archers and Warmongers from their journey thru Outworld, even those in the Tower and Foundry! Unfortunately, in conjunction with more enemies, Liu declared for the heroes to split up, divide their formations to infiltrate the Palace on all sides!

Lao and Aiko both escaped to the Living Forest, and with a smaller squad and more space, he urged her to take cover in the nearby cave! He unleashed his fury in a lethal F0 Tornado shattering all the enemies present!! He then spotted a silhouette looming in the cavern and out popped Kitana! They were thrilled to see her, despite she was only looking for Liu, still she accepted the duo. As they settled down, Kung Lao received word of his ancestor being involved with Quan Chi, as he wanted the Champion's soul for himself. He was surprised that the Great Kung Lao was involved, and he wondered if his visions were foresights.

Hours later, the trio arose and soon they approached a small bog surrounded by the mutated trees! They were then ambushed by a lone Saurian who spat acid onto the princess' face! Aiko went to tend for her while Lao immediately took the call to action! From his past experience, he fended him off well, despite the slippery silt and the spear similar to Scorpion's! Though his hat sliced thru it and left the Saurian vulnerable! His invincibility didn't provide much cover, even when Lao concentrated on all sides, and covering with his Whirlwind Kicks. He won over him, but Kitana implored to not kill him! She forced him to identify himself as Syzoth, a Saurian general. Lao wondered if all Saurians were aggressive, but rather territorial due to their dwindling numbers and the many dangers during Outworld's corruption. He escorted the trio to the ancient Ruins of Zaterra and the Raptors were convinced they must unite to fend off Shinnok and Quan Chi.

After a while, Lao questioned Aiko on how she and Nightwolf were "resistant" against the gem of Tetsurri, Zaterra's valuable treasure. She stated there used to be support from other realms only temporarily, as there were anomalies within rips of Earth's dimensional fabric. The Koopas were one of those allies whom Aiko knew well, and when she rescued one from a thornbush, she was infected while Nightwolf was staying at base; thus, her first encounter with Quan Chi. He was surprised on how everything was always leading to both him and Shinnok, even the unfortunate extinction of the dinosaurs and evacuation of the Saurians to Zaterra from Earthrealm, caused by Raiden's first battle with the fallen Elder God! He couldn't help but feel Aiko's concern of their plights.

Trivia[]

  • At first, Ikran had no interest in him, as when she was 6 while MKII was released for the SNES, she thought she was some dull, average cowboy judging by his outfit and deadly hat. Unfortunately, she wasn't into the arcade games but in the console games, thus little is known about each character. However, when she saw him during a LP of Shaolin Monks by one of her friends, Warlock Waluigi, her impression changed for the better! She was always irritable how he was treated as the underdog, even when he hadn't been featured in MK's other media such as Defenders of the Realm, and the 2 MK movies; heck, when Liu Kang stated he's the "descendant of Kung Lao" before the final battle in MK 1995, it did cause massive confusion till Ikran discovered the Great Kung Lao!
  • He shall be voiced by Joe Yau in Ikran's story.
  • She wanted Kung Lao and Nightwolf, her two upmost favorite characters, to have a good cowboy-Indian dynamic; contrary to those archaic Western cliches.

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