From the Archives: Mortal Kombat - Where Were You When Art Lean Died?

Mortal Kombat [Blu-ray]
Starring Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto

Hey everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I run a site by the name of Dyslexic Penguin which is of a similar style to this site. In addition, I’ve been a fairly active member of the forums at this site, so when it came to a point where I was graduating and felt I needed a more professional personal site than “Dyslexic Penguin”, I figured what better way to ensure I can keep up my writing hobby than to offer my services as a HUGE INTERNET SUPERSTAR, and thus here I am. Now, since I do have some stuff written I’m going to start off by bringing a couple of the old articles over here, just to give the people who don’t know me a little introduction and whatnot. The first of these is an article that came about during a conversation on the Forums concerning the topic of a dearly departed friend -- and thus I ask to you: “Where were you, when Art Lean died?”

In the year 1995, a movie was released based upon the hit video game franchise Mortal Kombat. The film featured an entire cast of characters ranging between the Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat 2 games. There were a few people left out, but what we got was a pretty solid film ...a big difference from the sequel that came later. The sequel tried to cram as many characters into it as possible, and as a result almost nobody had any character development, which effectively made the movie look terrible. Especially when you consider Johnny Cage was killed five seconds into the movie, when he was previously the champion having beaten Goro. The second movie also is missing a vital character we were introduced to in the original movie. A character that was missing because he did not survive the original film. A character that touched all of our hearts. That man’s name was Art Lean.

Art Lean was a young African American martial artist who received an invitation to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament. Furthermore, he was the only established character in the film who wasn’t already a member of the video game roster. To this date, Art has yet to be involved in any games, which is a crime.

We are first introduced to Art, via way of Johnny Cage who reveals to us who Art is ...and that he is well known. Hell, even a movie star like Johnny Cage recognized him! Sure, we don’t really get to see much of Art following this, but what we do see of him not only touches our own hearts, but also the hearts of the three main characters of the film: Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and Lui Kang. For it was Art Lean’s wonderful views on life, and that award winning smile that eventually motivated these three fighters to have the courage, and strength to win the tournament the ultimate cost: his life.

Art was scheduled to tangle with Prince Goro after he dispatched all challengers easily. Clearly, Shang Tsung began to fear Art’s seemingly unmatchable power. As well he should have! However, Goro caught Art Lean on a bad day, for no matter how quick Art’s footwork was, and no matter how hard his punches were ...he couldn’t beat Goro. Shang Tsung took Art’s soul following the loss, and it was this act ...this death, that turned everything around for our heroes. Following this victory, Johnny Cage and Sonya fell deeply in love despite no other scenes in the film even so much as hinting as to an affection for one another. To put it quite bluntly, the two just bickered like children. This also gave Johnny Cage the power to avenge Art’s death, via destroying Goro and putting him to death via a well placed kick off of the side of a cliff. Finally, it gave Lui Kang the motivation needed to challenge Shang Tsung personally, and even defeat him ending the tyranny of the Mortal Kombat tournaments once and for all. Would any of this have happened if Art didn’t die? Absolutely not! In fact, I’m willing to bed Art knew that too ...perhaps that is why he seemed to have that “off day”. I believe he threw the fight, as a sacrifice for the greater good. That is why, ten years later ...we remember you Art Lean.

I’ve known you all my life
 At least that’s how it seems
 Never known another way
 Living out a dream...
 Now I know you’re leaving me
 And I’ll never understand
 But, before I let you walk away
 I have one last demand!

 Tell me a lie
 And say that you won’t go!
 Look in my eyes
 And hold me even though
 I realize
 You had to walk away
 No more yesterday...
 You always were my angel
 Flying high above
 Always looking out for me
 Angel that I love
 But now my dreams are fading
 Like age old photographs
 That hurt too much to look at now
 Reminders of our past...
 Tell me a lie
 And say that you won’t go!
 Look in my eyes
 And hold me even though
 I realize
 You had to walk away
 No more yesterday...
 Maybe we could stay together
 Maybe it could last forever
 Maybe if you just tell me a lie
 Maybe then, we’ll never say...

It wasn’t just the movie characters that were touched by Art Lean’s death. I, myself, was greatly troubled by the loss of this great man. At the time, I was having some troubles at home, and in school... but Art’s death taught me that even those that are powerful beyond all comprehension of mere mortal men can lose everything in an instant. Thus, if I wanted to hold onto everything that may have been near and dear to me, that I had to fight. I had to take a stand. I had to make sure I lived every day of my life for me, and make sure that I was happy. I dare say, if it wasn’t for Art Lean’s noble sacrifice, then I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading this. In fact, I am going to go out of my way and say that I hereby dedicate my entire web site current, and future to the memory of Art Lean. I soon learned, once word spread of my investigating this particular topic, that there are others out there in the world who were equally as touched by this loss. Therefore, I am going to turn the attention over to these brave fans of this site, who have been bold enough to think back to what could possibly be the most heartbreaking moment in their lives, to remember how the death of Art Lean effected them. In fact, I believe General M. Bison has even decided to make a second appearance on the site to give us his own opinion General, if you would ...please start us off.

For you, the day that Art Lean was killed was the most important day of your lives, and for me was a day that shall live forever in infamy. Art Lean was a brave man. The day he died, I was going to launch a tactical nuclear warhead at the United States of America... but then I received words of his untimely passing. I was lost, and immediately cancelled my plans. The very next day I had the nuke completely dismantled, melted down, and finally molded into a statue of Art Lean and myself standing victorious over Guile’s broken crippled body. Yes, soon the world will be forever held in the loving grip of the PAX BISONICA ...but our hearts, will forever be held within the loving grip of one Art Lean. - General M. Bison
 Thank you General. That was the most touching thing I have ever read in my life. For now, I will hold off on my delayed mourning, as there are still others that have to give their words. Therefore, let us lend our ears to these brave souls:

”Before the death of Art Lean, I was a suicidal freak who hated everyone, and everything... especially video games, wrestling, and masturbation! But then, I witnessed that strange black man die on that day, or in that part of the film, ...and a part of me died with it. Now, thanks to that life changing moment ...Video games, wrestling, and masturbation are my three favorite hobbies. Sometimes I even do all three at once! Another one of my hobbies is writing haiku’s, and so I thought I’d share one I wrote in honor of Art:

 Art died, Goro did it
 Touched my life like pervy priest
 I am not sane now” - Optimist With Doubts


"Way back in early 1995, I was clean and sober. The death of Art Lean effected me in such a way that I was never able to put the pot, the pills, the drugs, or the bottle down ever again. The tragedy of Art Lean’s death is what drove me to become the alcoholic drug addict I am now. Thanks Art!” – Asked Co-Host Ed Wood

”I had never even heard of Art Lean before, because I only saw a little bit of the Mortal Kombat movie on TV once when I was channel surfing. I thought it kind of sucked, so I turned it off after about five minutes. ...But now that I know the guy died ...I mean, wow, man. Look out! See, I was just sitting here in front of the computer, and talking on the phone when I read the news for the first time and it came as a complete shock. In fact, Art’s death moved me to the point where I can now say that I am a man of action! Art has inspired me, just like I think his death can inspire us all. I am so full of inspiration now, that I think my life has been changed forever. As I said before, I was sitting in front of the computer, on the phone when I discovered his death. Now that I know, I’m a changed man! I am now sitting in front of the computer ...WITH A BEER! I mean, if that doesn’t say ‘look out world, this one’s for Art’ ...then I don’t know what does!” - Meaty Burrito Experience

"I was in a theatre. I watched the tragedy unfold before my very eyes. I was stunned! Everyone in the theatre began hugging, and things were a little foggy after that. ...But I KNOW that Art Lean’s death changed the world for the better! After I left the theatre ...everything seemed different. The sun seemed brighter, flowers smelled better, and felt that everywhere I went ...Art Lean was right there with me, telling me ‘it’ll be alright’“ - Jeremy Shank

”The day Art Lean died was the day that I gained the courage to do what was right. They often say that when it comes crashing down, and it hurts inside... You gotta be a man, it don’t help to hide. Well Art Lean’s death hurt my friends, and it hurt my pride. I had to take a stand, I could not... COULD NOT! Let it slide. So I walked down to the ring, and I ripped the shirt right off of my body, flexed my muscles, hulked up, dropped the leg, and the crowd went wild.
 That is the story of how Art Lean’s death motivated me to become Hulk Hogan, defeat Randy Savage, and eventually become World Wrestling Federation Champion!”
 –’s The Flying Jew
 ”I used to feel pain too, until the day that Art Lean left us. It sucked everything that meant a damn out of my world like a giant Super Maxi Pad. Now I can barely get out of bed in the morning. He was always so full of life! He promised the world to me, and what did he do? He went and got himself killed by a giant four armed freak! I only have two arms Art ...where is my love?” - El Burro
 ”Art Lean was the keystone for the first Mortal Kombat movie. He was the catalyst for every brave action made in the second half of the movie. The fact that this important figure in the movie rendition never made it into video game form is a travesty, and shows that Midway never truly cared about... Art Lean.” - Sean Henry
 ”Well, Art Lean ...I remember watching him die in the movies. And I was wondering if he was just one of an infinite number of failed ideas that never made it into Mortal Kombat that they recycled for the movie. I figured maybe Shang Tsung just hated black people, because the only guys to die in the movie, and get their souls stolen were black. I don’t think Shang Tsung realized there was segregation on Shang Tsung’s island. I mean the minute he sat down with the white people (and Lui Kang), all of Shang Tsung’s ninja’s come in and tear everything up. I really don’t think he realized he was a minority until he saw his reflection in Goro’s eyes. That’s probably why he got his ass whipped. He realized he was an oppressed minority, and lost his will to live. Or maybe he wasn’t a martial artist at all. Maybe he just lied to get on the island, like Daniel Larusso at the beginning of The Karate Kid. He just said he knew. Maybe he figured he would get some free lunch, and see exotic places. I mean if he was supposed to be THAT good, you’d think that he would have figured to hit Goro in the nads before Johnny Cage did. It’s not exactly rocket science. I shed no tears for Art Lean ...if that’s even his real name.” - Jason Rivera

Thank you everyone. I also approached Poprocks & Coke writer T2 for comment, but upon hearing Art’s name he immediately burst into tears, and could not speak long enough to give me a credible comment. Don’t worry Tony. It’ll be ok. Now, for those of you reading this who would like to have me add your thoughts, feel free to e-mail me them. If I feel they’re touching enough to add to the already lengthy list of comments, I’ll edit the article to throw them up for you. - Finding the pieces... without the Puzzle