Video Games

Who Voices Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 1 (MK1)?

Shang Tsung is Mortal Kombat's longest-running villain, and has been played by many different actors throughout the decades.

Shang Tsung is Mortal Kombat’s longest-running villain, and he makes a return in soft reboot Mortal Kombat 1. He’s been played by several different actors, and if you’re wondering who voices Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 1 this time around, I’ve got the answer.

Here’s the Actor Who Plays Shang Tsung in MK1

In Mortal Kombat 1, the actor who plays Shang Tsung is Alan Lee. He’s provided voices for a whole host of other properties, from Chocobo GP through to the Netflix-based Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre. He’s also credited as a “additional voices” on Squid Game, another Netflix show, with a body count comparable to Mortal Kombat 1. But.. hang on a minute, doesn’t his performance sound a little bit familiar?

Is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 1?

If you’ve played Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath or watched the original Mortal Kombat movie from 1995, you’ll have noticed that Lee’s performance is an almost perfect imitation of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who played Shang Tsung in both. It’s so similar that I was wondering whether Alan Lee was a pseudonym and that Tagawa was reprising his performance.  But no, Lee is not Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in a latex mask, there was no Scooby Doo style reveal in the sound booth.

Mortal Kombat 1 Shang Tsung New and Old

Without delving too much into spoilers, there would have been room for both of them in the game. But there’s been no mention of whether NetherRealm spoke to Tagawa, whether he was unavailable or so on. Lee’s sneering Shang Tsung wouldn’t exist without Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, so we’re hoping that, at least, he was approached.

That’s the answer to who plays Shang Tsung in MK1 and whether Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa returns for the role. For more on the game, check out our breakdown of MK1‘s wild ending.

About the author

Chris McMullen
Freelance contributor at The Escapist. I've returned to writing about games after a couple of career changes, with my recent stint lasting five-plus years. I hope, through my writing work, to settle the karmic debt I incurred by persuading my parents to buy a Mega CD. Aside from writing for The Escapist, I also cover news and more for GameSpew. I've also been published at other sites including VG247, Space, and more. My tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though I'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based.