Liu Kang is the Hero of Earthrealm and the protagonist of the Mortal Kombat series, starring in front of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade in the 1995 film. He debuts as a Shaolin monk sent to defeat Shang Tsung, but after defeating him and returning to find his fellow monks slaughtered by Tarkatans his motivations shift to that of vengeance. In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Liu Kang was given the honor of being the first fighting game protagonist ever to be officially killed off, and the only of the Mortal Kombat characters experienced with death to show such scars, returning in later installments as a zombified version of himself. Liu Kang is an iconic character among fighting games and one of the most famous homages to Bruce Lee in video games period.
Liu Kang fights with a dragon motif, blasting fireballs from his hands, transforming into a dragon to perform his fatalities, and even performing a flying kick known to some as the “dragon kick”. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, Liu Kang is given a fighting style named after Bruce Lee (Jun Fan) as well as the ability to use nunchucks, finally giving him a base fighting style that at least visually emulates Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do style.
Fireball - Liu Kang holds his hands out and sends a fireball toward his opponent. This was one of the first fighting game projectiles to have a low, high and jumping version, making it a particularly versatile move for a Mortal Kombat game.
Flying Kick - Liu Kang shoots toward his opponent with a flying side kick. A great move for closing distance to punish an opponent’s missed attack, but a death sentence when blocked.
Bicycle Kick - Liu Kang’s most famous move without a doubt. Peddling his legs as if riding a bicycle, he flies towards the opponent and pounds against their chest with his feet. This move was done by holding the kick button and releasing, so it could be buffered for use in a pinch.
Despite being the protagonist Liu Kang has never been too consistent with his fatalities. As the most indecisive of Mortal Kombat characters over how he feels like mutilating his opponent, he has been known to:
- Turn into a dragon and bite his opponent in half.
- Drop an arcade cabinet on his victim.
- Emerge from his opponent’s body, lifting their head off like a top hat.
- Cartwheel and punch them in the face.
Liu Kang’s design has remained fairly consistent throughout the series. In Mortal Kombat I there was little character to his design, featuring short hair, black pants, and white shoes. In Mortal Kombat II he gained his red headband (that would join Ryu’s in becoming iconic for the character), black armbands and his pants now had some red thrown on. Mortal Kombat III kept this look sans giving him long hair, and it was this look that became his definitive look.
Mortal Kombat IV gave him a red tank-top which didn’t stick around. Mortal Kombat: Deception, apart from advanced skin decomposition, also remained fairly close to his Mortal Kombat III deisgn. Mortal Kombat vs DC finally decided to do something – though not much – with Liu Kang’s look: giving him a giant belt with the series’ famous dragon symbol in the middle, identifying him as the champion of Mortal Kombat.
This post is part of the series: Mortal Kombat Characters
Get the lowdown on your favorite Mortal Kombat characters. Uncover their motivations for participating in the tournament. Know what to expect from their unique fighting abilities. Witness how powerful they’ve become as they develop throughout the series. Get all the gory details here!
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