Which Kung Lao is in Mortal Kombat X?

An old Kung Lao will appear in MKX, but is it the same Kung Lao you know and love?

NetherRealm Studios and Warner Brothers have been keeping Mortal Kombat X fans updated with a series of character reveal trailers. The next character to be featured in an upcoming reveal trailer will be Kung Lao. While that video has yet to hit the Internet, the Finnish gaming magazine, “Pelaaja” offered a sneak peak at what we can expect from the Shaolin Monk when the trailer releases in the near future. We’ll have a more in-depth look at Kung Lao in the coming weeks, but for now, let’s analyze what we know.

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As we mentioned in previous MKX features, the story in Mortal Kombat X picks up after the events of Mortal Kombat 9 and spans the 25 years that follow. If we go back into the lore of Mortal Kombat, the original Kung Lao (also known as the Great Kung Lao) defeated Shang Tsung 50 years before the first Mortal Kombat game took place. Just before the events of the first game, Goro killed the Great Kung Lao, with Shang Tsung taking his soul. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, the Great Kung Lao’s soul is freed from Shang Tsung.

The Kung Lao in most of the Mortal Kombat titles is the last known descendant of the Great Kung Lao. In MK9 it’s revealed that Kung Lao is actually the reincarnation of the Great Kung Lao. The new version of Kung Lao that will be shown in the upcoming character reveal trailer for MKX seems to be the Kung Lao from the games, but he also died at the hands of Shao Kahn in MK9.

What we know is that Quan Chi is in MKX and has the ability to resurrect fallen combatants. It’s entirely possible that either Kung Lao didn’t actually die, or that Quan Chi (or someone else) resurrected him. It could also be another reincarnation of the Great Kung Lao. No matter who this version of Kung Lao is, he still has all of the trademark attacks you would expect from the character.

This new version of Kung Lao aged considerably since we last saw the character. He has three fighting variants as is expected from all of the characters in Mortal Kombat X. These variants are tentatively referred to as Tempest, Buzz Saw and Hat Trick. According to Ed Boon, co-creator of Mortal Kombat, Kung Lao is the most diverse character revealed for MKX. His fighting styles are far more varied than most other characters in the game.

In the Tempest variant, Kung Lao uses more spinning attacks and can even have his hat continually spin around him like a protective barrier. This appears to be a more defensive fighting variant, with the spinning hat protecting Kung Lao from at least one attack, similar to an attack with armor that goes through one hit of an opponent’s attack. In theory, this ability should allow Kung Lao to pressure an opponent after a hard knock down, using the spinning hat as protection.

The Buzz Saw fighting variant gives Kung Lao considerably more control over his hat when it’s thrown. In this fighting style it appears as though the hat inflicts more damage compared to the other two fighting variants. In Mortal Kombat 9, Kung Lao could throw his hat or leave it spinning on the ground, setting up a delay attack. With even more control over his hat in the Buzz Saw variant, it will likely work as an anti-air attack and combo extension at the very least.

Hat Trick is the final fighting variant and it’s arguably the most unique. In this fighting style Kung Lao can throw his hat and call it back to him at any point in time. This screams extended combos and frame traps, and you’ll almost assuredly be able to throw the hat to start a combo, keep it in place and use it again to bring an opponent back within reach so you can extend the combo. It also seems likely you’ll be able to use the hat to make unsafe attacks relatively safe. Throw the hat, perform the unsafe attack, then recall the hat before the opponent has time to punish you.

We expect the trailer for Kung Lao to grace the Internet over the next few days or weeks. In the meantime, keep your eyes on Prima Games as we continue to examine the newly announced Mortal Kombat X characters. We’ll also have a full set of strategy articles available when the game releases in April.

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Bryan Dawson
Bryan Dawson has an extensive background in the gaming industry, having worked as a journalist for various publications for nearly 20 years and participating in a multitude of competitive fighting game events. He has authored over a dozen strategy guides for Prima Games, worked as a consultant on numerous gaming-related TV and web shows and was the Operations Manager for the fighting game division of the IGN Pro League.