A Shaolin monk of the White Lotus sect who has trained his body to perfection, Liu Kang has been the most consistent hindrance to Shao Kahn and his attempts to conquer Earthrealm for himself. Because of his background, he has been shown to prefer non-violent resolutions when possible, though when the need arises, he is more than capable of holding his own with any of the fighters in the Mortal Kombat series. Despite having defeated many who have attempted to do Earthrealm harm, Liu Kang seems to bear a particular antipathy for Shang Tsung, and this rivalry only intensified after the events of Deadly Alliance, where Liu Kang was killed. Before this event, he was considered the de facto main character of the series, as he achieved victory in every Mortal Kombat tournament he was involved in. After his death, he becomes a twisted effigy of his former self, slaughtering the wicked and innocent alike. In spite of this, the name of Liu Kang is synonymous with justice, strength, and discipline.
Throughout the series, Liu Kang’s appearance and abilities have remained relatively unchanged. While his initial portrayal included a simple pair of white shoes and black pants in Mortal Kombat, his look was updated to include a red headband, spiked gauntlets, and red accented pants in Mortal Kombat II, and this would come to be his signature outfit. He is always shown to be bare-chested, with the exception of Mortal Kombat 4, where he wore a red tank top. In terms of abilities, Liu Kang can direct his chi to project fire from his hands, often in the form of a dragon, both in the air and at multiple heights on the ground. His Flying Kick is also legendary, as his force of will allows him to fly at his opponent with incredible speed. He also has some capacity to transform himself, as he has been able in several games to use his chi to take the form of a dragon, an incarnation which bears a striking resemblance to the creature depicted in the Mortal Kombat logo.
After losing control of the tournament when Goro defeats the Great Kung Lao, the White Lotus task Liu Kang with traveling to Shang Tsung‘s island. There he is to fight on behalf of the Temple of Light so that he might become the Champion of Mortal Kombat and return the tournament to the hands of the Shaolin. At the time of his entrance, Shang Tsung had succeeded in accumulating nine straight victories, needing only one more to allow Shao Kahn to invade Earthrealm. Liu Kang fights valiantly alongside Earth’s protectors, befriending the likes of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage in the process. But it is Kang himself who earns the right to challenge Goro, who in his complacency and overconfidence is defeated. Upon hearing that Liu Kang has emerged the victor, Shang Tsung challenges him personally only to taste defeat himself at the hands of the Shaolin monk. Having lost their bid to claim Earthrealm, Goro and Shang Tsung return to Outworld.
Returning from Shang Tsung’s island in triumph, Liu Kang is horrified to find that the Shaolin temples have been attacked in his absence, leaving many of his brethren dead. He immediately vows to seek justice for this crime, and upon learning that the perpetrators are Tarkatan, Kang sets his sights on Outworld. He travels this time with fellow White Lotus monk Kung Lao as well as other Earthrealm warriors, such as Jax, who seeks to discover the fate of Sonya after she went missing after the first tournament. Once in Outworld, Kang and his allies learn that the attacks had been orchestrated by Emperor Shao Kahn for the purpose of luring them to his realm. Despite this, they decide to participate in the tournament, and it is there that he would meet Kitana, who contacted him in the hopes of secretly aiding Earth’s combatants against the Emperor. For all his might, Shao Kahn was unable to best Liu Kang at the end of the tournament, and enraged by this he orders his armies to attack. Having foiled Kahn’s plans yet again, Kang and his allies fall retreat to the safety of Earthrealm.
Back on Earth, Kung Lao and Liu Kang set about rebuilding the White Lotus, training a new generation of monks in the martial arts. Unfortunately, it is not long before Shao Kahn finds the means to break through the border separating Earthrealm from Outworld, taking the opportunity to mount a full invasion and begin stealing the souls of all the realm’s inhabitants. Called upon again to defend his home, Liu Kang seeks out the Emperor while evading the many death squads that roam the planet in search of him. In the final battle, Kahn overcomes Kung Lao with a powerful spell. Believing his friend to be dead, Kang summons the strength to defeat Outworld’s ruler in spite of the power he gained by stealing Earth’s souls. This time it is Shao Kahn who is forced to retreat, ending the invasion and restoring the planet.
Having driven the Emperor back, Kang once again sets his mind to training. He travels to America, looking for new recruits for his order. He meets up with Kai, whom he trains and eventual grants the status of Shaolin warrior. Their friendly sparring is interrupted when Kang learns that Shinnok, a fallen Elder God, has broken through a portal in Edenia and captured Princess Kitana. When he is unsuccessful in saving her, Liu Kang marshals the forces of Earth to defeat the coming invasion. Eventually it is up to him to face Shinnok and end his bid for the realm. He prevails, but it is a bittersweet victory, as Kitana is nowhere to be found. Assuming she is lost to him, Kang returns to his temples only to have the Princess appear to him. Explaining that Shinnok’s defeat had freed her realm as well, she offers him a place at her side on the throne of Edenia. In spite of his feelings for her, Liu Kang’s responsibilities to Earthrealm are too great, and he reluctantly declines her offer.
After driving back Shinnok, Liu Kang and his companions finally receive a period of respite from the constant attempts on the sanctity of their planet. In secret, however, his old nemesis Shang Tsung allies himself with Quan Chi, and the two set about plotting the downfall of the most powerful beings in the realms: Shao Kahn and Liu Kang. They are successful on both counts, and in his dying moments Liu Kang’s soul is consumed by Shang Tsung. Though his body would be laid to rest by Kung Lao, his spirit is trapped, witnessing the events of Deadly Alliance through the eyes of the sorcerer.
During the cataclysmic battle between Raiden, Onaga, and the Deadly Alliance, Liu Kang’s soul is freed from Tsung’s grasp. Unshackled but still incorporeal, he remains in Outworld to help his friends in any way he can against the Dragon King. To his disgust, he finds that his grave has been defiled, and his body is now being used to wreak unspeakable bloodshed. This crime was perpetrated by none other than Raiden, former Protector of Earthrealm. Having been corrupted by the power of Onaga, the Thunder God uses the chains of a long-dead race of necromancers to raise Earthrealm’s Champion and bind him to his will. Liu Kang must now find a way to prevent Onaga’s conquest, and stop his body’s desecration.
After Raiden changed the timeline to avoid total destruction in Armageddon, Liu Kang is once again a White Lotus warrior attending the first Mortal Kombat. In the new timeline, Liu Kang is still the most powerful warrior of the Earthrealm, and he defeated Shao Kahn again by punching through his chest and injuring him badly during the second Mortal Kombat. However, Shao Kahn broke the elder gods’ rules and decided to wage a war to invade the earth along with his army. According to Raiden’s judge, he should wait for Shao Kahn to take over the earth in order for the elder gods to punish him. Cannot withstand Shao Kahn’s army slaughtering lives on the earth, Liu Kang insists to fight Shao Kahn. Attempting to stop Liu Kang, Raiden accidentally killed him with a thunderbolt.
Turned into an evil remnant by Quan Chi, Liu Kang used to serve as Quan Chi’s warrior. After Quan Chi and his lord Shinnok were defeated, Liu Kang became a warlord in Netherrealm. Then the keeper of time Kronika threatens the universe and brings younger Liu Kang from past to current timeline. Liu Kang from the past follows Raiden to uncover Kronika’s schemes. Raiden finally found out that Kronika manipulates the timeline to make Raiden and Liu Kang turn against each other since either one of them is an unstable factor for Kronika to design a balanced era. Raiden decided to end this once for all by giving all his power to Liu Kang. He merges with Liu Kang from the past and Liu Kang’s remnant in the current timeline, thus Liu Kang ascends as a new god, becomes Fire God Liu Kang. Liu Kang uses his godlike powers to defeat Kronika, and finally becomes the new keeper of time.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
After the recent defeat of Shao Kahn, Liu Kang returns to the Wu Shi Academy to continue his training. Not long thereafter, he is alarmed to hear of disappearances among his Shaolin brothers. Further deepening his concern, he hears that Kitana as well has lost many among her own army. Liu Kang comes to the realization that there can be only two organizations capable of causing so many to go missing in action: the Black Dragon or the Lin Kuei. Choosing to pursue the latter, Kang tracks down Sub-Zero, but finds himself attacked by the ninja on sight. He is able to subdue him, and afterwards learns that the Lin Kuei have been losing men as well. He is troubled to hear this, and after a brief battle with Scorpion, who had been hunting Sub-Zero, he witnesses a teleportation event which causes Scorpion and The Flash to switch places. Believing that he is now dealing with the shapeshifter Shang Tsung, he attacks The Flash and defeats him. When he does not resume the form of Shang Tsung, Kang knows that this is a different fighter altogether. He takes him back to the Wu Shi Academy and attempts to examine the chi of the strange warrior. However, before he can ascertain the identity of The Flash, another teleportation event transports him to Gotham. Now under the effects of the Kombat Rage, Liu Kang believes Batman to be Shang Tsung, forcing the Caped Crusader to defend himself. The Dark Knight binds him and takes him to the orbital U.N. station to answer some questions of his own. Not long after, Raiden comes to his aid, transporting them both back to the relative safety of their own realm.
When the nature of the threat is revealed, Liu Kang is forced to make an unusual alliance with his sworn enemy, Shang Tsung, so that he might protect the realms and defeat Dark Kahn. As the final battle ensues, Kang is able to return Raiden’s favor by helping him overcome the influence of the Kombat Rage. Raiden goes on to join forces with Superman, and together they defeat Dark Kahn, preventing the merger of the MK and DC universes.
To know whether a particular Liu Kang ending is canonical, one need only ask a single question: “Is Liu Kang dead?” All endings prior to his death are canonical, and all posthumous endings are not. The exception is MK vs. DC, where the entire storyline is out of the usual continuity.
Mortal Kombat (canon)
Upon defeating Goro and Shang Tsung, the White Lotus are able to restore the tournament to its previous status as an honorable competition. Liu Kang becomes renown for his heroics in retaking the contest on the Shaolin monk’s behalf, and continues the noble traditions of his order.
Mortal Kombat II (canon)
After witnessing the devestation wrought by Shao Kahn’s Tarkatan horde, Liu Kang does not hesitate to make the journey to Outworld where he proceeds to beat a path to the Emperor himself. The Emperor falls, and Kang retreats into solitude to mourn his brethren and to reflect on the nature of the events that transpired. He concludes that perhaps his brothers died so that he might be able to defeat Shao Kahn’s evil.
Mortal Kombat 3 (canon)
Having denied Kahn’s conquest twice prior, Liu Kang is now the the Emperor’s primary target. Shao Kahn’s underlings are no match for him, and he soon finds his way to Kahn himself. He is stricken to find Kung Lao in defeat before the conqueror of Outworld. With his friend’s apparent death as motivation, Kang unleashes his fury, driving Kahn back to his own realm. As the portal to Outworld closes, Kitana steps through, congratulating him for his victory and for saving both their realms.
Mortal Kombat 4 (canon)
Believing Kitana to be lost forever, Liu Kang is unable to bring himself to celebrate the defeat of Shinnok. His fears are soon allayed when Kitana appears before him to congratulate him for once again saving both their realms. While she offers him a place at her side as the ruler of Edenia, Kang declines, stating that his duties as protector of Earthrealm are too great for him to accept. They share one last kind word before departing.
Mortal Kombat: Deception (non-canon)
With his friends free from enslavement and Onaga slain, it would appear that all is well. But Liu Kang knows there is yet one more task at hand. Seeking out his body, an epic battle ensues between his ethereal and corporeal forms, with neither side seeming to gain an advantage. Suddenly, an unknown energy courses through them, uniting mind and body and returning dead flesh to life. Liu Kang, Champion of Mortal Kombat, lives once more!
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (non-canon)
With the power of Blaze, Liu Kang’s mind and body are united. Now intact, he seeks out the one responsible for the desecration of his body: Raiden. Though he does not wish to fight his former mentor, the two are joined in a titanic battle, with Kang emerging victorious. He then appeals to the Elder Gods, who bestow upon him Raiden’s former title as Protector of Earthrealm.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (non-canon)
Upon Dark Kahn’s defeat, Raiden is determined to unlock the mysteries of the Rock of Eternity. When he is finally able to ascertain it purpose and function, he uses it to create an Earthrealm equivalent of Captain Marvel. He channels his own powers and those of Argus, Fujin, and other gods to transform Liu Kang into an ultimate, unstoppable guardian. To access his powers, Kang need only speak the words, “Mortal Kombat!”
Mortal Kombat (non-canon)
Liu Kang decides that Raiden‘s attempt to protect Earthrealm has turned out to be more of a burden than a help so he asks the Elder Gods to make him the Protector of Earthrealm. He challenges Raiden to a one match Mortal Kombat and wins. He is then granted the titel of Protector of Earthrealm and all the shiny magics that come with it.
Mortal Kombat X (non-canon)
Liu Kang’s evil remnant becomes the tyrant who rules the Netherrealm.
Liu Kang’s fighting style is Jun Fan (also known as Jeet Kune Do or Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do); a martial arts style founded by Bruce Lee. The attacks are mainly seamless and fast; pulling off great combos fairly quickly. Liu Kang’s weapon style is Nunchuku (plural to Nunchuck); similar to Jun Fan, these are exceptionally quick strikes that take away fairly poor damage but very quickly; however, these nunchuku are severely drawn back by their range.
High Fireball – Liu Kang shoots a dragon made of fire at the opponent. (Appearance in every Mortal Kombat game)
Low Fireball – Liu Kang shoots a dragon made of fire at the opponent’s legs. (Appearance in every Mortal Kombat game)
Bicycle Kick – Liu Kang flies forward, his feet kicking around in a circular motion. (Appearance in Mortal Kombat 2 onwards)
Flying Kick – Liu Kang flies forward, his feet hitting the opponent with such force they hit the ground. (Appearance in every MK game)
Dragon Morph: Liu Kang transforms into a dragon and bites their torso off. (Appearance in every MK game after II)
Shaolin Takedown: Liu Kang somersault kicks the opponent then uppercuts them into the air. Interestingly enough, this is the only fatality which does not involve any skin, soul, organ, or limb flying off the opponent; this may be because of Liu Kang’s Shaolin Monk roots. (Appearance in every MK game)
Shaolin Soccer: Liu Kang kicks their head off up into the air, then smacks it straight into the victims body. Bang. Everything flies away. (Appearance in Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks)
Mortal Kombat (2011)
Special Attacks / Enhanced
- Bicycle Kick
- Fireball (High)
- Fireball (Low)
- Flying Kick
- Teleport Punch
Liu Kang delivers a fierce uppercut that breaks his opponent’s jaw and launches them into the air. As the victim comes down, Liu Kang lands a standing high kick to the already shattered jaw.
- Heart Punch – Liu focuses his energy until his fist is enveloped in fire, then delivers a brutal punch that goes straight through his opponent’s chest. He then holds his bloodied fist aloft in victory.
- He was played by Robin Shou in both Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat : Annhilation.
- Liu Kang is a playable character in Shaolin Monks