When you think of Mortal Kombat, if you're anything like me and if you're a fan of a certain vintage, one of the first things you think of isn't Mortal Kombat at all, but Enter the Dragon.
Shout out to Jim Kelly: "when it comes I won't even notice. I'll be too busy looking good"
The first Mortal Kombat can best be described as Bloodsport meets Enter the Dragon told by way of Eastern mythology and mysticism. Strange ninjas commanding fire and ice, Shaolin monks and otherworldly monsters replace the cast of Enter the Dragon, but the tournament is still held by an old man, well schooled in martial arts, on an island far from civilization.
But in Mortal Kombat, that old man is a sorcerer who steals the souls of the defeated.
That is, of course, the one and only Shang Tsung and today I'm proud to point you towards the latest excellent Lost character retrospective from @Shad and Razor, talking about everyone's favourite sorcerer.
The boys break down Shang Tsung as a character and the inspirations behind him, his original storyline and his true backstory, what makes him tick as a character and go through his various incarnations, from the games....
GOAT design here
.....to his famous portrayal by Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa....
Indeed it was
....to his less famous portrayal by Bruce Locke in the incredibly-campy-but-fun, Mortal Kombat Conquest
This is an unfair picture but it is very funny.
On a personal note, Shang Tsung is my single favourite character in all of Mortal Kombat. I find him strangely easy to relate to (also possessing a fear of death and nothing but contempt for my fellow man), a brilliant design, concept and by far the most interesting character lore-wise. Likewise, I share the boys' utter disgust towards the way he's been treated in the last few games, from being jobbed out to Quan Chi to being essentially deleted for a pointless power boost to Sindel in the clumsiest bit of stake-raising in the history of video games.
Today in storytelling for dummies: why suddenly killing 85% of the good guys 20 minutes from the end of the story is a bad idea.
It seems fairly inescapable that, with the debut of Quan Chi in MK4, the team behind MK soured on Shang Tsung and took a shine to Baldilocks instead, with the cunning and sorcerous ways that had once been the trademarks of Shang becoming those of Quan Chi.
But hope shines eternal and with Scorpion finally getting his hands on Quan Chi and the potential destabilizing effect of Dark Raiden could it be time for Shang to return in MK11? He's certainly one of the most requested characters and, of all the original bosses of the franchise, only Shang and Onaga haven't been done justice to.
Plus, Ermac could probably do with being benched for a while.
Naked Shang costume anyone?
As always, check back to TYM daily for all the latest news on Mortal Kombat and everything NRS, especially as the clock ticks down towards E3!
"Your Soul is Mine!" A Shang Tsung Retrospective