Kano (Mortal Kombat)
|Mortal Kombat character|
Concept sketch of Kano's alternate costume in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat (1992)|
|Voiced by||David Allen (MK:SF)
Michael McConnohie (MKvDC, MK2011)
Michael Des Barres (MK:DotR)
Brian Kesinger (Wreck-it Ralph)
|Portrayed by||Richard Divizio (MK, MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT)
Trevor Goddard (first film)
Joseph "Eddie" Acavedo, Mark Chemeleski (Live Tour)
Darren Shahlavi (Legacy)
|Origin||Earthrealm (Australia; originally Japan)|
|Fighting styles||Xing Yi (MK:DA, MK:A)
|Weapon||Raptor Knives (MK, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A)|
Kano is a player character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise created for Midway Games by Ed Boon and John Tobias. He is one of the series' original characters, having made his debut in Mortal Kombat in 1992. A calculating thug, mercenary, and member of the international crime cartel known as the Black Dragon, Kano is also the top fugitive and persistent nemesis of Sonya Blade and Jax Briggs of the Special Forces, which has been his primary storyline throughout the course of his Mortal Kombat series appearances, and in Mortal Kombat 3, he also becomes the general of Outworld emperor Shao Kahn's armies. In the 2011 series reboot, he additionally poses as a crooked Special Forces informant and serves as Kahn's arms dealer. His most recognizable feature is his cybernetic metal faceplate that houses an infrared eye laser.
Out of the seven original series characters, Kano has featured the least in the Mortal Kombat games, though he was among the eleven characters who represented the franchise in the 2008 crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. He has also appeared in alternate media such as the 1995 Mortal Kombat film, the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and the 2011 web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, in addition to having a central role in the 1995 Mortal Kombat novel and featuring on official series merchandise. Fan and critical reception for the character has been mainly positive, but mixed in regards to his Fatality finishing moves.
In Mortal Kombat games
First depicted in the Mortal Kombat canon as a Japanese-born American who was orphaned at a young age and fell into a life of crime,[note 1] Kano is the leader of the Black Dragon criminal empire, having been deported from both Japan and the United States, and becoming a wanted man in thirty-five other countries. He made his first chronological series appearance in the 2000 platform game Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, freeing fellow Black Dragon cohorts No Face, Tasia, Jarek and Tremor from a Special Forces security facility under the pretense that they would reform the organization, but really intending to use them as pawns to slow down any Special Forces agents who might pursue him. They killed an entire squad at the site of the prison break and fled, and with the Dragons given their subsequent assigned tasks, Kano headed to Outworld where he recovered the Eye of Chitian, an artifact through which he would acquire incredible power. Unfortunately for him, Jax had overcome his accomplices and defeated him. Jax used the eye to transport them back to Earthrealm, and proceeded to bring Kano into custody though he would soon escape. It is additionally revealed in the game that Jax was responsible for the injury to Kano's eye that resulted in the installment of the faceplate.
Kano entered Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat tournament in the original game after hearing rumors that his palace was filled with gold and other riches, intending to loot it for the Black Dragon. He is fervently pursued by Lieutenant Sonya Blade, who holds a personal grudge against Kano that is unspecified in the game's storyline. He evades capture by leaping onto Shang Tsung's junk bound for the Mortal Kombat tournament, and when Sonya tracks him onto Shang Tsung's private island, she is captured and forced to fight in the tournament. She and Kano were among the competition's few survivors, and during the final battle between Shang Tsung and Liu Kang, Sonya reluctantly teams up with Kano (along with Johnny Cage) to fight off Goro, enraged from his own loss to Liu Kang, but during their battle the island immediately self-destructs following Shang Tsung's defeat, trapping Kano and Sonya in Outworld. They are both captured and spend the events of Mortal Kombat II chained and on display in the background of Kahn's Arena.
In Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), Jax finds and rescues Sonya, but also frees Kano in the process, enabling him to escape their clutches once again. Kano convinces Outworld's emperor Shao Kahn to spare his soul prior to Kahn's invasion of Earth on the grounds that he can teach his armies how to use modern Earthrealm weaponry. However, Sonya tosses Kano to his apparent death from the roof of a highrise, but he survives and was found by Motaro, who healed and then imprisoned him. Motaro is then killed by Sheeva, who in turn frees Kano from his prison. During the events of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), he and Sheeva originally hatch a plan to assassinate Kahn, but Kano turns on Sheeva by preventing the attack, and as a reward was promoted to general of Outworld's rapidly-shrinking army before the invasion was defeated. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, Kano stood ground and eventually managed to repel Princess Kitana and her Edenian-Shokan army. He returned to Kahn's palace just in time to watch from the shadows as Shang Tsung and Quan Chi spring their attack on the weakened emperor. After the battle, Kano declared his allegiance to the new rulers of Outworld, the Deadly Alliance. The two had Kano oversee the enslavement of a small village, who would construct a temple over Onaga's tomb to house the Soulnado. During its construction, Kano was assaulted by Li Mei, but Quan Chi intervened, as the Alliance had made a deal with the Red Dragon member Mavado: he would eliminate the swordsman Kenshi in exchange for the opportunity to fight and defeat Kano. Mavado attacked and left Kenshi for dead.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), Kano is found by Taven to have been held prisoner by the Red Dragon Clan for quite some time. Before escaping their facilities, Kano explains to Taven that the Red Dragon had been experimenting on him, as well as their own clan members, in an effort to create real-life genetically engineered dragons and human-dragon hybrids, Kano mentions that they were trying "something new" on him, although he leaves before he elaborates on what that "something" is.
Kano plays a minor role in the story mode of the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, an alternate-timeline version of the first three games. He does not take part in any of the tournaments but is, as usual, pursued by Sonya and Jax; he is the leader of the Black Dragon who had duped the Special Forces by acting as an informant and deliberately feeding them false intelligence that led to the deaths of many of Sonya and Jax's comrades in ambushes. Kano first interacts with Sonya at the Shaolin Tournament when he taunts her on the Pit bridge after she is weakened from a fight with Johnny Cage, who then defeats Kano in battle. Kano is later beaten by Sonya after Shang Tsung presents him to her as a challenge, but then forbids her to take him prisoner. Kano becomes Shao Kahn's arms supplier and tests rocket launchers with Shang Tsung in the Living Forest while Baraka is seen in the Armory handling crates loaded with pump action shotguns that are later used by the Tarkatan armies during Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm. After Kabal, a former Black Dragon turned SWAT officer serving under Stryker's command, is severely burned by Kintaro, Kano takes him away to the Flesh Pits, where he and Shang Tsung restore his health, and Kano outfits Kabal with his mask and respirators and presents him with his old hookswords, all despite Kabal's defection from the Black Dragon. However, Kabal is mortified at his physical transformation and therefore furious at Kano for having sold the weapons used in the invasion, and bests him in combat and then forces him to lead him to Shao Kahn before knocking Kano out. Kano's last appearance is when he joins Goro and Kintaro in holding a group of soldiers hostage in a bell tower before being frozen by Sub-Zero.
Kano will return as a playable character in the upcoming installment, Mortal Kombat X. He was revealed to appear in the game through the German version of GamePro, before his appearance was officially announced.
In other games
Kano is among eleven Mortal Kombat character included in the noncanonical 2008 crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. His official rival is The Joker, but he is not playable in the story mode. He also appears in the iOS game Arkham City Lockdown as an Easter egg fighting Batman in one of the levels.
Kano originally had a large helmet with two red eyes, a concept that was dropped in favor of a smaller metal piece over his right eye. In his Deception biography card, MK co-creator Ed Boon described how Kano's bionic eye in the first game was created by cutting out a piece of a plastic mask and painting it a silver color, then attaching it with spirit gum to actor Richard Divizio's face, with the infrared eye added digitally. For the first game he wore a simple gray tunic that was changed to red and black for MK3; Divizio said in a 1995 interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, "I thought, 'Good, get rid of that white karate outfit!' " and remarked that his versus-screen pose in the game represented his "mean Kano face." In a feature on the MK game actors in the April 1994 issue of VideoGames magazine, Divizio admitted that he couldn't perform any of the character's Fatalities and joked that Kano's favorite food was White Castle hamburgers. Kano's MK1 costume was revived as his alternate design for Deadly Alliance and Armageddon, and his main costume in both titles simply has him shirtless with a black vest, while he wears a cord around his neck that has a tuft of Sonya's hair attached. His other constant in his series appearances, besides his eye, has been a bandolier worn across his chest that features a large glowing red implement; it has never served any purpose in the games. For an intended series reboot tentatively titled Mortal Kombat 8, former Midway Games concept artist Vincent Proce "dramatically revamped" Kano from a Black Dragon criminal into a "half Japanese, half U.S. military badass," complete with a more detailed faceplate and a simple white gi and red sash, while he went barefoot with his ankles heavily taped. The reboot was canceled with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe developed in its stead, and Kano was included in the game with his Black Dragon origins left intact.
In all MK media from the first game up to Armageddon (save for the 1995 Mortal Kombat film), including the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and the Live Tour, Kano had either had a receding hairline or been completely bald (since Divizio had been going bald himself while filming for the first game and had shaved his head prior to shooting MK3) and his facial hair had regularly consisted of nothing more than stubble. However in MKvsDC and the 2011 reboot, Kano was given a full head of hair and beard, and a notable cosmetic addition in the reboot was two large solid-black dragon tattoos that started at his chest and snaked around his arms, while his outfits in both games were throwbacks to the two-dimensional titles. As a nod to Trevor Goddard's performance as Kano in the first Mortal Kombat film, the character's nationality was changed from American to Australian, beginning with the cartoon in which he spoke with an Australian accent, and continuing with Kano's redesign in MKvsDC and thereafter that served as a visual tribute to the actor.
In the original Mortal Kombat, Kano's special moves were the Knife Throw, making him one of two characters in the game (besides Scorpion) whose projectile was a physical weapon, while his body-propel move, the Cannonball, saw him curl into a ball while simultaneously launching himself at his opponent. Sega Visions called the Knife Throw "a strong distance weapon and easily thrown." Kano also possessed one of the more graphic Fatalities in the game, which involved him plunging his hand into his opponent's chest and ripping out their still-beating heart. Boon claimed that Sub-Zero's "Spine Rip" Fatality stood out more because Kano's finisher did not have a "mark left on the opponent's body." Kano was left out of the Sega Game Gear version of Mortal Kombat due to memory constraints, while a still image of him wielding an automatic weapon in his arcade ending was removed from the Genesis version of the game.
Kano was not playable in Mortal Kombat II; according to series co-creator John Tobias in a 1994 interview with GamePro, in the first game "Kano and Sonya were probably picked the least. We [Midway] still wanted to include them in the storyline, so we had them captured." He then stated that Kano and Sonya would "definitely be back" in a future installment of the series. Indeed, Kano (and Sonya) returned in Mortal Kombat 3, where his moves from the first game were retained while he gained a new "Choke" maneuver where he lifted his opponents and then violently shook them. His Fatalities were far less graphic than in the first game, as he either exploded his opponent with a laser blast from his implant, or reached down their throat to pull out their entire skeleton and hold it aloft without any blood or gore present. Additionally, the unplayable hidden character Noob Saibot was a silhouetted sprite of Kano before being switched to a traditional ninja palette swap in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and the 1996 compilation title Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the latter which featured the original MK1 Kano as a selectable along with the then-current version.
Kano was the only character from the first game who was omitted from Mortal Kombat 4 (1997), with new character Jarek debuting in his place. He was depicted in the game as the last surviving member of the Black Dragon following Kano's apparent death, and was being pursued by Sonya and Jax for "crimes against humanity." Jarek copied Kano's special moves as well as his "Heart Rip" and "Eye Laser" Fatalities despite possessing no cybernetic enhancements. The character was not as well-received as his predecessor, and has not featured as a playable in the series since except for MK: Armageddon.
His eye laser is finally available as a special move in Deadly Alliance, and he had a special move with his knives called "Ear to Ear." This was a reference to a scene in the movie in which Kano tells Sonya that he had used his knife to slit her partner's throat "from ear to ear." One of his fighting styles in the game, ironically, is aikido, which is a defensive martial art that protects the attacker from injury. He was not included in Mortal Kombat: Deception, in which Kabal takes over as the new leader of the Black Dragon after reforming it with new characters Kobra and Kira as they feud with rival faction, the Red Dragon, but Kano returned in Armageddon along with the entire MK roster.
According to Prima Games' official guide for MK2011, Kano’s " 'ﬂinch and you will be comboed' style can be frustrating to play against, but if you are a die-hard Kano user back from the Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 days, you will ﬁnd that Kano completely ﬁts your style." The guide also determined him to not be overly formidable nor at a great disadvantage in matches against the other characters.
In Malibu Comics' Mortal Kombat series, Kano appeared with all of the characters from the first game (minus Reptile) in the 1994 "Blood & Thunder" miniseries, the first issue of which borrowed liberally from John Tobias' MK comic in detailing his evading of Sonya and the Special Forces and getting into an altercation with Johnny Cage onboard Shang Tsung's ship before Cage knocks him out. In the second issue, during one of only two organized tournament fights that commenced in the entire Malibu run, Kano kills Lance, Sonya's cybernetically-armed partner who had accompanied her onto the island, by way of his "Heart Rip" Fatality. He later breaks into Shang Tsung's quarters and steals his mythical tome, the Tao te Zhan, which he manages to hide on his person just before he is caught by Goro and imprisoned in a dungeon with the rest of the series characters. They all are pummeled by Goro in the following issue until Raiden comes to their rescue and breaks them out of the dungeon, but they wind up scattered throughout Outworld, and as a consequence, Kano is joined by Liu Kang, and their personalities clash from the start. Kano is still in possession of the book until it is taken by Scorpion; anxious to get it back, Kano attempts to ditch Liu Kang by scheming with a group of Outworld mutants into fighting them as a distraction, enabling him to stab his knife into Liu Kang's back and leave him for dead. In the sixth issue, he defeats Sub-Zero but is then decisively beaten by Sonya. The storyline ends with the Earth warriors victorious over the Outworlders and Kano taken into custody by Sonya and Jax, but he escapes, as detailed in a mini-story titled "Breakout" that was included in the first installment of the 1995 two-issue miniseries U.S. Special Forces, in which Kano was not featured, as the main villain therein was an original Black Dragon character named Rojack. That same year, Kano was also featured in a three-issue miniseries titled Rayden & Kano, in which Raiden presents Kano with a magical sword called "Ebbonrule," in hopes that he would kill Shao Kahn with it in the name of personal redemption, but the opposite occurs as Kano gives the sword to Kahn instead in exchange for godlike powers.
Kano was a featured character in the 1995 noncanonical Mortal Kombat novel written by Jeff Rovin, which is set before the events of the first game. He and several Black Dragon members (all originals exclusive to the book) are hired by Shang Tsung to locate a mystical amulet hidden somewhere in China. They come across a remote village in which Kung Lao resides, and Kano forces Kung Lao to accompany him on the journey. One of the Dragons, however, is actually Sonya working undercover, as she has a personal interest in apprehending him as he had killed her fiancé several years earlier. However, Shang Tsung, Goro and Raiden interrupt the search, and Kano's Black Dragon cohorts are killed while Shang Tsung merges Kano with Kung Lao and sends the combined being to locate the amulet. After he and Kung Lao are returned to normal, Kano takes the amulet to Shang Tsung's palace, though he is immediately assaulted by Goro after making physical contact with Shang Tsung. He then brawls with Sonya near the conclusion but the fight is inconclusive when he flees after she is momentarily distracted, therefore evading her capture.
In the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie, Kano was played by Trevor Goddard. The film expanded upon Kano's rivalry with Sonya from the games; she now sought vengeance against Kano for killing her (unnamed) partner, for which Shang Tsung hires Kano to lure Sonya into the Mortal Kombat tournament, promising to grant Kano the reward he desires for his efforts after he presumably defeats Sonya, while demanding that she is "not to be harmed, only humiliated." Kano starts by baiting Sonya into boarding Shang Tsung's ship, and is later spotted by Cage, Sonya and Liu Kang conversing with Goro while dining at a long table filled to capacity with food, during which Kano mocks Shang Tsung's earlier opening speech to the tournament contestants. However, when Sonya and Kano finally fight each other, his earlier plan with Shang Tsung goes astray when he is defeated and Shang Tsung betrays Kano by goading Sonya into finishing him; she complies by breaking his neck. He is described as wearing a business suit during the dining scene in the movie novelization, which also featured a detailed opening scene of an unsuccessful joint mission of arresting Black Dragon members by the Special Forces and an international task force, which culminates in Kano killing the task force's lieutenant who is designated therein as Sonya's murdered partner. Kano is also spared by Sonya in their fight, as she refuses to fall prey to Shang Tsung's scheme while declaring that nobody "owned" her, and at the end of the book, he is captured and handcuffed by Sonya. Kano's wardrobe is minimalist in the film, as his game design was eschewed in favor of the character going shirtless with a simple brown vest, while he wears only a pair of pinstriped slacks, a metal choker and combat boots when he fights Sonya. The companion book published by Prima Lifestyles prior to the film's release said in his character profile: "A strapping Australian talented in all forms of martial arts, he's particularly skilled with a knife. He seems to enjoy his cat-and-mouse game with Sonya, which began after he murdered her partner."
Kano was a main character in Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, which ran from 1995 to 1996, and was portrayed by martial artists Joseph "Eddie" Acavedo and Mark Chemeleski. The character appeared twice in the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and was voiced by Michael Des Barres. In the sixth episode ("Familiar Red"), he works with Shao Kahn in fooling the Earthrealm defenders into chasing phony dimensional rips across the globe, while a flashback scene (shown from Sonya's perspective and narrated by Jax) depicting Kano's offscreen killing of Sonya's Special Forces partner Wexler prior to the first tournament was shown; this segment included a continuity violation as Kano was shown with his MK3 design. He confronts Kabal for the first time in the eleventh episode ("Amends") since Kabal's defection from the Black Dragon and his turn to the side of good, and his consequential disfigurement at the hands of Kahn's forces. Kano's Black Dragon comrades received a generic design of shaved heads and facial tattoos, and were operating an underground generator used for opening portals. They are easily disposed of by the Earth warriors at the conclusion and Kabal detonates the machine with a bomb, but Kano manages to escape.
British actor and martial artist Darren Shahlavi portrayed Kano in three episodes of the 2011 first season of director Kevin Tancharoen's Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series. He and the Black Dragon are shipping stolen robotics to an undisclosed location under the name "Cyber Initiative," and Kano takes Sonya hostage after she is caught infiltrating the large warehouse where the Dragons carry out their operations, and plans to kill her when the facility is raided by a SWAT team led by Jax and Stryker. During the assault, Kano engages Jax in combat but is defeated, taking a vicious punch to the temple from Jax in the process that dislodges his eye. He is later recovered by his henchmen and has his cybernetic eye surgically attached. Kano makes one last appearance in the ninth episode, which precedes the aforementioned events; the receiver of the robotics from the Black Dragon in the first episode was revealed to be the Lin Kuei headquarters.
Merchandise and promotion
Along with the original series characters, Kano was highlighted on an individual track from The Immortals' 1994 album Mortal Kombat: The Album. Titled "Use Your Might," it features a female vocalist singing the character's praises from a first-person perspective, citing him as "the strongest of them all" out of the other Mortal Kombat contestants.
Hasbro released a 4" Kano action figure in 1994, packaged with a "Kombat Cycle" vehicle. Jazwares released a Kano action figure that was part of their 2006 Shaolin Monks toyline (despite the figure sporting Kano's costume from Deadly Alliance,) in addition to a 6" twentieth-anniversary Kano figure in 2012. Kano was one of twenty MK characters featured on 2.5" x 3.5" collectible magnets released by Ata-Boy Wholesale in 2011, and licensed replicas of his "Raptor" knife from the first film, which was designed by Gil Hibben, were made available for purchase.
Kano makes a brief appearance in the 2012 animated film Wreck-It Ralph, voiced by Brian Kesinger. He performs the "Heart Rip" on House of the Dead zombie character Cyril while attending a "Bad-Anon" support group that featured villains from various classic video games.
Kano placed 24th in UGO.com's 2012 selection of the series' top fifty characters, and the site had additionally ranked him in 2011 as the seventh-best cyborg character of all time, ahead of RoboCop and Star Trek character Seven of Nine. Josh Wirtanen of Cheat Code Central listed Kano as the fifth-best Mortal Kombat character. "This badass serial killer was always the character I choose when feeling the need to get in touch with my dark side." Game Revolution's Anthony Severino ranked him at #10 in his 2011 "Top 10 Old School Mortal Kombat Characters" feature. Saldana praised the character as "such a scene-stealer in the movie that the MK team retconned everything about Kano to fit that portrayal," but Chris Buffa of Modojo.com included Kano in his "worst list" of characters from MK3 without explanation, and IGN described him only by saying that he "sucks." Fans ranked Kano as the 27th-best MK character in a 2013 online poll hosted by Dorkly that rated the series' entire character roster.
Kano is most notable for his Fatalities, often regarded by various sources to be among either the best or the worst in the series. UGO Networks rated the "Heart Rip" as second in their 2011 listing of the "Top 11 Mortal Kombat Fatalities," crediting it as having singlehandedly "heralded the birth of anti-video game violence advocates" while describing it as "ripping the beating heart out of an opponent's chest like he's some sort of Mola Ram." Prima Games ranked it runner-up to Sub-Zero's "Spine Rip" in their 2014 list of the series' top fifty Fatalities, but GamePro rated the doctored version of the finisher from the censored Super Nintendo version of the game, in which the heart was colored gray, first in their list of the series' twelve "lamest" Fatalities. "Instead of pulling out an opponent's still-beating heart ... Kano grabbed at an opponent's chest and pulled out... nothing." ScrewAttack ranked his "Skeleton Removal" from Mortal Kombat 3 sixth on their "Top 10 Mortal Kombat Fatalities," but Dan Ryckert of Game Informer included it among the most confusing MK finishers. "I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure you can't pull someone's entire skeleton out of their mouth." We Got this Covered rated his "Heart Transplant" Fatality from MK2011—in which he rips off his opponent's head and then rips out their heart before shoving their head into their chest cavity—among the series' top finishers, and Tony Searle of WhatCulture ranked it eighteenth in his 2014 list of the series' "20 Horrifically Stomach-Churning Fatalities."
His "Stomach Pounce" Fatality from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, on the other hand, has been heavily criticized. It led to Kano's second appearance on GamePro's "Top 12 Lamest Fatalities" listing (fifth), with the magazine commenting that "absolutely no effort was put in [by the developers in] creating it." Game Informer rated it among the series' worst finishers, and Game Rant chose it as the series' worst Fatality, adding that it had no connection to the character: "[S]ince when is Kano known for stomping on people like Mario?" David Saldana of 1UP.com listed it among his selection of the MK series' worst Fatalities (seventh): "You’d figure he’d represent the MK side well in the crossover game [in terms of Fatalities]. You’d think wrong." ScrewAttack used the "Stomach Pounce" as the representative of all of MKvsDC's finishers topping its 2011 list of the series' worst Fatalities.
- His background was further detailed in a scene from Jeff Rovin's 1995 Mortal Kombat novel, when Goro explains to Shang Tsung, “Kano was only five years old when they [the Black Dragon] found him, an orphan stealing from American soldiers and [Japanese] natives alike. He had the good fortune to steal from one of the members, who admired his skills and they took him in.”
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