A Look Through At Liu Kang's Development In Mortal Kombat
If you remembered Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat 1, you might notice that Liu Kang is a freaking Bruce Lee tribute. Yes, Bruce Lee has been dead for a LOOOONG time but he ended up getting tributes like Liu Kang, Fei Long (Street Fighter) and Law (Tekken). However there was an interesting development Liu Kang got in later games that deviated from his original design.
Mortal Kombat II redesigned Liu Kang in such a way that would make him a Chinese Ryu instead of a Bruce Lee tribute. The most obvious has to be that Liu Kang himself would wear a red gi on his head like Ryu would. In addition, Kung Lao was added as his friendly rival that while Johnny Cage would have sufficed as Ken Masters, Kung Lao takes that place. In Shaolin Monks, both Liu Kang and Kung Lao have a Ryu/Ken relationship. At the same time, Liu Kang and Shang Tsung would have a Ryu vs. Akuma type of rivalry.
While he was temporarily killed off in Deadly Alliance (by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi), perhaps fan demand brought him back. Now he appears as a zombie thriving with vengeance while his spirit seeks to stop his other half from causing mayhem and destruction. It's almost like Ryu from Street Fighter in the struggle against one's inner demons. In Deception's Konquest Mode, it's also revealed that Liu Kang defeated Shinnok in his past life. In Armageddon, Liu Kang appears to stop Shang Tsung from reaching Blaze. After Blaze's defeat, everybody gets powered up killing each other, leaving Shao Kahn with the opportunity to defeat Raiden who I assume was also powered up but Shao Kahn for some reason had the upper hand before everyone is reincarnated to relive the events in a different way.
In Mortal Kombat X, Liu Kang has more similarities with Ryu. During the events in Mortal Kombat (2011), he was accidentally killed by Raiden so it's no surprise that he returns as a vengeful revenant against Raiden. One of his variations is called Dualist where he accesses dark energy similar to Satsui No Hadou. Liu Kang has been struggling with inner demons in the franchise's reincarnation and in Mortal Kombat X, his Revenant costume makes him look like a modified version of EVIL RYU from Street Fighter.