Ain’t That a Kick in the Head: ‘Liu Kang kick’ protest video goes viral, sparks concerns

A Hong Kong protester kicks a police officer on Sunday (left), and Liu Kang kicks fellow fictional fighter Scorpion in the arcade classic “Mortal Kombat” (right). Screengrabs via Twitter/YouTube.
A Hong Kong protester kicks a police officer on Sunday (left), and Liu Kang kicks fellow fictional fighter Scorpion in the arcade classic “Mortal Kombat” (right). Screengrabs via Twitter/YouTube.

Of the all the images of violence — on the part of both police and protesters — coming out of Hong Kong on a near-daily basis, one in particular has captured worldwide attention in recent days.

The video in question (you probably already know where this is going) shows a young Hong Kong protester executing a flying kick to the head of a police officer who is in the midst of making an arrest. The clip has cropped up far and wide in foreign media — even as some Hong Kong netizens have cautioned against sharing it for fear of endangering the protesters depicted.

Since first breaking onto the scene yesterday, an HKFP repost of the video, which they attributed to the Reddit-like forum LIHKG, has been viewed more than 670,000 times, with hundreds of comments mostly lauding the young protester’s form.

One netizen referred to the move as the “Flying Kick of Freedom,” while more than a few were reminded of go-to Mortal Kombat character Liu Kang.

The video has since made its way onto the site of the Metro, a free newspaper in the UK — which credited the kicker with helping to “de-arrest” his comrade — and even onto World Star Hip Hop, a site better known for sharing videos of barber shop beatdowns and fast food parking lot catfights than its coverage of world news.

One World Star commenter, also hearkening back to Mortal Kombat, posted under the video: “Flawless victory.”

This being Hong Kong, of course, comparisons to hometown hero Bruce Lee weren’t far behind.

Dissident artist Badiucao, whose work has tracked Hong Kong’s ongoing protests in often granular detail, made those comparisons explicit with a new illustration depicting the protester as the martial arts superstar, complete with the signature yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death.

(Protesters for months have embraced the Bruce Lee mantra “be water” as the inspiration for their unpredictable wildcat rallies.)

But amid the outpouring of support, some online have warned that the glut of attention might not be a good thing, pointing to fears over the protester’s safety.

“Stop spreading the video of protester ‘rider-kicking’ a popo PLEASE,” one commenter on the video said (while nonetheless noting: “btw that kick is well done”).

Some commenters even went so far as to request media outlets pull the video down, though others noted it was within the press’ rights to publish such content.

Indeed, the incident was enough to warrant a mention in a police update last night, and a subsequent update said that authorities “were infuriated by rioters’ brutal assaults” and vowed to “carry out thorough investigations against all violent acts.”

There was even chatter online that the protester had been subsequently arrested, but police have not responded to Coconuts HK’s request for comment on the incident as of press time.

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