NOTE: Not to be confused with the original, the elder brother, Bi-Han, who became Noob Saibot. This is about his younger brother, Kuai Liang!
Kuai Liang (奎良), better known as Sub-Zero (絶対零度, "Absolute Zero"), Grandmaster (of the Lin Kuei), and formerly known as Tundra and briefly as the cyborg LK-52O, is the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei assassin clan in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.
Kuai Liang made his playable debut in Mortal Kombat II as the younger brother of Bi-Han, who was the original Sub-Zero in the first Mortal Kombat game. He takes the mantle of Sub-Zero in his later appearances in the series but reappears under his original alias of Tundra in Mortal Kombat (2011) before again going under the mantle of Sub-Zero.
Kuai Liang would become a frequent supporting character after his debut. He would later end the long-standing rivalry between the Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu after becoming Grandmaster and making peace with his rival Scorpion.
There are two incarnations of Sub-Zero, both of whom are siblings: older brother Bi-Han, and younger brother Kuai Liang. Both are blue garbed warriors who, at different times, have used the codename "Sub-Zero", and both are members of the Lin Kuei. They are descended from Cryomancers, an exiled Edenian race possessing the ability to generate and control ice. However, they were born in Earthrealm and only the younger Sub-Zero would discover his heritage (in the original timeline).
Kuai Liang bears a scar on his right eye. In the original timeline, he received it sometime prior to the events of Mortal Kombat 3. However, as seen in Deception, the scar eventually faded away, possibly as a result of the Dragon Medallion's power. In the second timeline, revealed in the Mortal Kombat X comic series, it was Kano who created the scar.
Bi-Han and Kuai Liang were born to a Cryomancer father and a Chinese American human mother. Their father was a secret operative for the Lin Kuei in the United States, eventually taking both sons back with him to China, against their mother's wishes. The brothers would then be trained as Lin Kuei assassins. However, in Sub-Zero's trailer for Mortal Kombat 2011, the siblings' background stories are retconned that both brothers were kidnapped by the Lin Kuei when they were still children.
Bi-Han appeared as Sub-Zero in the first Mortal Kombat tournament, while Kuai Liang went by the codename "Tundra". After Bi-Han was killed by Scorpion, Kuai Liang swore to avenge him and took his brother's former codename "Sub-Zero" as a means of honoring his brother. He entered the second Mortal Kombat with only one goal in mind: hunting down his brother's killer.
Kuai Liang would bear the name Sub-Zero in all future games, whereas Bi-Han would be resurrected as a wraith by Quan Chi and given the name Noob Saibot.
Although both share traits in common, the two brothers differ significantly in many ways. Kuai Liang comes off as a menacing, stern, distant, and cold man who prefers to remain in the shadows, not unlike his elder brother. However, Kuai Liang is more serious, disciplined, humane, and honorable than Bi-Han ever was. In contrast to his older brother, who eventually succumbed to darkness, the younger Sub-Zero remained firmly on the side of justice. This vast disparity caused the two siblings to disown one another, stating "we share blood, we are not brothers".
Kuai Liang's strong moral principles have also brought him into conflict with his own clan. Horrified by the Lin Kuei's cyberization initiative, Kuai Liang openly rebelled and eventually left the clan altogether in horror and disgust, thereby breaking the sacred codes of honor. In response, his former clan marked him for death, programming Cyrax, Sektor, and his former friend Smoke to hunt down and terminate him. Kuai Liang subsequently joined Liu Kang, Raiden, and Earthrealm's other defenders in the struggle against Shao Kahn.
In both timelines, the younger Sub-Zero defeated and killed Sektor, becoming the new Lin Kuei Grandmaster in the process. Under his stewardship, the Lin Kuei would be reformed and rebuilt into a force for good.
Like most of the MK cast, Kuai Liang follows a character archetype. In his case, he is the enigmatic hero who shows up to aid the protagonists when needed.
About Cyber Sub-Zero
Cyber Sub-Zero replace Smoke, as a Cyborg, in the Second Timeline: Smoke was saved by Raiden from the Cyber Lin Kuei, but Sub-Zero was turned into a Cyborg against his will instead. He regained his soul almost right after automation, when he engaged Kabal in kombat, and helped the Earthrealm Warriors. He was later killed by Sindel, with his soul afterwards being one of the many claimed by Quan Chi, who later restored him to his human form after deeming technology unreliable. Unlike the other Cyborgs, Cyber Sub-Zero's blood is blue instead of black; there is no in-game explanation for why that is, but the assumption can be made that it is likely some kind of refrigerant.
Kuai Liang, who has taken the role of grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, invites Hanzo Hasashi at the Lin Kuei temple to make amends. Hanzo thinks it is a ruse to completely exterminate the Shirai Ryu from existence, because for the longest time, he thought the Lin Kuei was responsible for the extinction of his clan. Kuai Liang explains that the Lin Kuei's honor was already blemished even before the Cyber Initiative. All of a sudden, Frost appears to attack the former Scorpion, making Hanzo believe Kuai Liang did want to kill him and fights him.
With Hanzo about to kill Kuai Liang, Frost prepares for another sneak attack, but she is intercepted by Kuai Liang, encasing her in ice. To prove his sincerity, Kuai presents Hanzo Sektor's severed head, and shows him the cyborg's preserved memories. It is revealed that it was actually Quan Chi, the very person Scorpion served as a revenant, who was responsible for the murder of the Shirai Ryu, Hanzo's wife Harumi and their son Satoshi. With the truth finally revealed to him, Hanzo and Kuai Liang have since gained mutual respect as allies.
Five years later, Kuai Liang is met by Cassie Cage and her team under orders from Cassie's father Johnny. Not wanting to converse with them, he and his warriors engage them in battle. Defeating Cassie and her team, Kuai reveals that the encounter is a test set up by him and Johnny, chastising Cassie's team's lack of unity while commenting that they have great potential.
Sub-Zero eventually horrifically witnesses the corruption of Earthrealm's Jinsei. Later when Cassie Cage and her team were ambushed by Kotal Kahn and his forces, Sub-Zero appeared along with his Lin Kuei warriors and said he would drive Kotal Kahn and his forces back to Outworld. And he successfully did so.
Mortal Kombat 11
Part 1: Mortal Kombat 11
When the time quake caused by Kronika occurred, Sub-Zero is the only survivor of his clan’s kidnapping and cyberized by a recently reorganized Cyber Lin Kuei, and both time-displaced, yet still cyberized Sektor and Cyrax are involved as well. Fearing Sektor will lead an attack on Shirai-Ryu like the last time, Sub-Zero immediately summons Scorpion for this emergency. Just as Scorpion arrived while Sub-Zero overlook the reestablished Cyber Lin Kuei Factory, Sub-Zero found a side entrance to the east of the factory. Once inside, they find Cyrax conversing with an unknown woman, only to find out it was a cyberized Frost. Scorpion and Sub-Zero defeat the traitorous Frost and eventually Cyrax before Noob Saibot appears much to the surprise of Sub-Zero and Scorpion, just as Noob reveals to them how he got revived twice by Quan Chi’s undying creations. They then defeat Bi-Han and eventually free Cyrax from his enslavement. During their conversation with Cyrax, Sektor eventually appears and attacks the trio. Eventually, Sub-Zero and Scorpion defeat Sektor. Before Cyrax sacrifices his circuits to shut new Cyber Lin Kuei’s cyborg productions at its factory, Sub-Zero ensures to welcome him to his new Lin Kuei, no matter what form until they find a way to restore the cyborg’s human form, as long as their human souls are still intact.
Due to not only his Lin Kuei Temple already been compromised, but also Raiden’s Sky Temple and Special Force HQ by attack from Kronika's forces, Sub-Zero and the other surviving Earthrrealm heroes begin to shelter at the Shirai-Ryu’s Fire Garden as their only known base left, where they learned that Shinnok is both Kronika's son and Cetrion's brother, including Kronika’s plan for her endless warring in all timelines. Sub-Zero accompanies Scorpion to Kharon's home while scouting the numbers of Kronika’s forces led by Cetrion in the Netherrealm, and was asked by Scorpion to return to Earthrrealm.
He is later seen with time-displaced Liu Kang, and surprised that time-displaced Scorpion arrived at the Fire Garden instead of his future-self. He and Raiden suspects the time-displaced Scorpion killed his future-self and beyond redemption's for blindly murdering Bi-Han into Noob Saibot, but only Liu Kang who eventually notice that Scorpion has been redeemed by his future-self and carries his dying wish after D'Vorah killed him, with Raiden also unlocks the full patterns of his visions in every timeline caused by Kronika’s machinations, finally forgives Scorpion. After Kronika kidnaps time-displaced Liu Kang to prevent him and Raiden from combining their powers to stop her evil schemes, Sub-Zero and his allies immediately goes to Netherrealm where Kronika’s Keep is, guided by Kharon, and joined by Earthrealm’s surviving armies of the Special Forces, the Shaolin and Kitana’s reformed Outworld army.
Sub-Zero and the time-displaced Scorpion are with Raiden on guarding Kharon’s ship. During the Cyber Lin Kuei’s attack on Kharon’s ship, at the same time Raiden manages to convince the reluctant present-Jax from being remained easily manipulated by Kronika, Sub-Zero learns from Raiden that Frost was the one who had been controlling the new Cyber Lin Kuei army, not Sektor. Sub-Zero is one of the few allied warriors who witnessed the fusion between Raiden and the two iterations of Liu Kang (present-revenant and past-human) into an ultimate Fire God Liu Kang. Sub-Zero and his allies successfully raid Kronika’s Keep for Liu Kang, Kung Lao and Kitana to be able to confront Kronika and her remaining warriors, until Kronika resets time to the beginning, leaving Liu Kang alone against her, Cetrion and three recently upgraded remaining revenants Kitana, Kung Lao and Jade.
Part 2: Aftermath
The time-displaced Liu Kang and Sub-Zero are preparing their army for their assault on Kronika's Keep, only to be surprised by the time-displaced Scorpion, instead of his future self. As he prepared to fight Scorpion, they were interrupted by Shang Tsung and Fujin, which surprised him when Raiden thought he was lost when the timeline's broken. The two clashed against the sorcerer and the God of Wind, only to be defeated. After discovering the results of their tragic future, Sub-Zero and the others continue with the plan to storm Kronika's Keep, now with the knowledge of the future. Kronika would appear in the Fire Gardens herself to take the Crown back herself, freezing Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Liu Kang and Kung Lao in time while confronting Raiden, Fujin, and Shang Tsung. The trio manage to fend her off, with Fujin using the Crown, freeing Sub-Zero and the others in the process. Despite agreeing with the plan to storm the Keep, Sub-Zero is not seen on any of the fleets after.
Official theme songs: Sub-Zero (Chinese Ninja Warrior) - The Immortals
Fanmade theme song: Removing - Paul Unfaces | Mortal Kombat 2 OST (2023)
Sub-Zero was with the other Kombatants as they fought of the Saurian stragglers from Outworld and was surprised to see Kung Lao and the older Aiko! He first met him and Liu back in the Wastelands as he was on the hunt for Scorpion, but much like his elder brother, they kept giving him the slip. He soon joined the team as he was hiding from the Lin Kuei, and their grandmaster, Oniro, was desperate on making him a cyborg; however, he always regretted on not saving Smoke. He was still glad to see Aiko again soon after the failed insurrection, as he remembered her referring to him and Liu as the odd couple due to using opposing elements, as well as melting the ice.
When Raiden and Stryker initiated a short respite, he decided to venture to the Lin Kuei Ninja compound, hoping to find his Brother, Smoke; recently, Nightwolf was successful on restarting Smoke's core and reunited with the ninja. But he soon disappeared. He assumed he'd be at enemy territory, but he only found Cyrax and Sektor. He was then suddenly blinded by a bright light as he heard a clap of thunder. It turned out Raiden transported him to the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. He forewarned him it's suicide venturing to the compound and assured Smoke is safe, that is if Kuai would get to him first before Oniro! He went on hot pursuit, anxious to save him from being reassimilated! Unfortunately, he was unable to fend off the Grandmaster. He was in a lose-lose situation, till Kung Lao came to his aid as his cheetah Animality! It didn't last, but the monk was able to surpass the deadly assassin! With his Tornado, combined with Aiko's cardiokinesis, Oniro dropped dead! He reunited with Smoke like never before and thanked Lao greatly.
He, Lao, Nightwolf and Aiko were teleported by Smoke to the Cybers' whereabouts in New York! They spotted Sektor and assisted Kabal, though Kuai was anxious on helping Smoke who took on Ketchup first. Thru Aiko subduing his heart, Kuai froze him and ordered Smoke to take him away as he self-destructed! He feared he was caught in the blast, but luckily, he escaped. They were then attacked aloft by Shadow Priests who stunned most of the heroes, even electrifying Smoke! He desperately attempted to save him, but the Priests already took him away! He, Stryker, and Kung Lao led the salvage mission.
While the team stationed in the abandoned tunnels, he was still anxious on saving Smoke as he thought that Kahn doesn't keep his prisoners. Stryker assured that the team'll find him when the time comes, as Kahn did keep captors before such as Sonya and Kano. Still, he was glad to see the remaining quartet of Liu, Sonya, Jax, and Kitana. He replied to Jax's remark that if they die, they shall perish in battle as one.
He was then seen in his polar bear Animality as the heroes broke thru the defense lines of Kahn's extermination squads. He soon rescued Smoke just as soon as Liu Kang defeated Kahn. He escaped moments before the Fortress began to collapse, though he and Jax weren't able to save the Champion. But thanks to Raiden's last-minute attempt making a portal, he and his team reunited with the victorious monk!
He and Smoke were planning to reform the corrupt Lin Kuei with the demise of Oniro. Although he had to wait a few weeks, as Nightwolf was busy surgically removing some defective parts and restoring others over the cyborg while also technologically advancing the Wu Shi Academy, to the point in which Smoke can use both forms in one body!!
He still accompanied Smoke at their Lin Kuei headquarters. Even after a couple years, the organization went thru massive changes! Smoke remained as their most promising agent in both organically and metallically; however, the robotomy surgery has been falling out of favor. With Oniro and Sektor gone, the operations were optional, though word got out and was eventually frowned upon by many. He and Kuai then witnessed a falling comet 50 miles away from the Wu Shi Academy and only Kuai went to investigate.
By the time he arrived beside the meteorite, he reunited with Liu Kang, Sonya, Nightwolf, Kung Lao, Aiko and met Kai and Johnny Cage. He volunteered to head to Edenia with the team, as he felt his brother, Bi-Han, had something to do with Shinnok's escape from the Netherrealm. He, along with Lao, Aiko and Nightwolf, attained some strange familiarities of Quan Chi while he challenged the Kombatants to his new Mortal Kombat tournament in the corrupt Edenian Palace.
Sub-Zero recognized the face, as did Nightwolf and Aiko, and he barely recalled their first encounter with the demon sorcerer! Nevertheless, his cryokinesis was vital against the emerging Army of Darkness, specifically the tricky Shadows always quickly hiding beneath the ground and being invulnerable unless they solidified! Thanks to the ninja's skills, the battle was won easier! Unfortunately, with the scrimmage of the generals, the battle became too overwhelming! Liu Kang declared for the Kombatants to split up and divide the army in order to infiltrate on all sides, so Kuai escaped with Nightwolf!
They escaped to a gurney and the cryomancer attempted to make a huge, ice blockade, till they saw a silhouette of a beast with a blade protruding from each arm! He plowed thru every general, Oni and Shadow seamlessly, then he turned onto the heroes! Nightwolf took him on and noticed those deadly features belonged to Baraka, who fell to the likes of the strategic shaman! Sub-Zero froze the beast but they didn't kill him! Nightwolf demanded what side he was working on, to which Baraka spat out he works for no one and was sick of having his clan be dominated by overlords like Kahn. The duo wasn't buying it since Tarkans were known to be bloodthirsty maniacs, even during that time when he paid them to destroy the Wu Shi Academy; Baraka mentioned he was ordered to, but the heroes weren't convinced. Nightwolf then sensed another assailant and warned Kuai to evade him! The fiery streak melted Baraka's prison, but Scorpion was only after the Lin Kuei ninja! He lost as he didn't fight back, then Nightwolf displayed the data chip both he and Smoke analyzed from Sektor!
With the wind knocked out of him, Kuai was still able to see the recordings having a fuzzy display and the conversations between Quan Chi and Bi-Han were muffled, but the meanings were still clear. The sorcerer hired the best thief to kill Scorpion and lend the bones of Scorpion's family as payment to the former Grandmaster!! The footage then shifted to Bi-Han's defeat by Scorpion, then Quan Chi literally unveiled everything between the ninjas and was about to send Hanzo into the Netherrealm, but both maniacs disappeared before the chip went blank.
Nightwolf was able to restore Hanzo's senses and the Matokan came to the conclusion that he'd been manipulated ever since his death; Quan Chi corrupt his soul feeding him lies and letting his dark wraith consume his body and mind! Kuai didn't want to fight him since he knew the truth thanks to Smoke and Nightwolf analyzing the chip, and with a given hand, he assured Hanzo none of his actions was his fault, not even the death of his brother, but under the will of Quan Chi whom they were after. He had a flashback several years ago when he had the final conversation with Bi-Han involving on finding the Temple of Elements, but the Gods disappeared and was unguarded as they were supposed to protect a powerful amulet. Baraka returned with his clan of Tarkatans and they were ravenous on tearing apart the demonic army since their DNA was mixed with theirs, he recognized Scorpion and Mileena, and couldn't wait to tear Quan Chi and Shnnok limb from limb. Kuai and the guys were flabbergasted as they saw the mutants charge toward the Edenian Palace without a proper plan!
Sub-Zero, along with Nightwolf and Scorpion, arrived with his teammates while the Tarkatans blew the cavalry's cover. He soon noticed Hanzo latch onto a nearby tree and head to the Palace. He and the shaman followed, and the ninja was the first to breach the place, assassinating Quan Chi! The pair saw the sorcerer's body lifeless and severed from his head. He and Hanzo were then urged by Raiden to restore the Amulet inside the mythical Temple of Elements. He'd heard rumors of the place from his brother, in which he attained the artifact, only to have Quan Chi take it for himself! Raiden also informed that Quan created a duplicate and as long as Shinnok isn't reunited with it, it must remain in Earthrealm making the Elder God powerless and trapped in the Netherrealm. Knowing their clans would find peace, they partnered up thru the tricky labyrinth.
Hanzo and Kuai reached the end of the Temple, and he was pretty much the brute on disabling traps, only to have the wraith hesitate before relinquishing the Amulet, as if he'd use it to usurp it for himself... Kuai tackled him, only to have the artifact fly out of his hands and be magnetized to the end of the pillar. By the time the Amulet darkened, Shinnok's fate was sealed when his fake Amulet was disabled rendering him powerless and trapped in the Netherrealm upon his demise! At the Lin Kuei headquarters, Smoke disobeyed Kuai's orders on staying in base, as Smoke actually remembered the fight against Oniro and recalling it being at the Appalachian Mountains, he believed the deceased Grandmaster had the sacred Dragon Medallion! To his surprise, Smoke was correct, and he offered it to his surrogate brother! Kuai heard the warnings on losing control while wearing it without skill, but he was thankful he'd no longer suffer while in intense heat since Shang's lethal fissure! Later on, he made it official to move the Lin Kuei to the Northern Pole, Articka! Hanzo wished him a safe journey and in good terms, relieving Kuai of Scorpion's undead curse! He was later seen looking at the full moon awaiting for Raiden's return someday...
- While Luke Perry passed away a few years ago, Ikran's choice still remained as him. It was the only voice she can associate with her Showitious.
- The scenario in which Kuai reunited with Smoke, thanks to Nightwolf restoring his core, was based on the events in the 3-part fanfic, The Ghost in the Machine.