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Video Game: Kane and Lynch
Crossing the Despair Event Horizon since 2007.

A psychotic. A mercenary. A bunch of cash. What could go wrong?

Everything.

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men follows the titular characters through a story of escape, betrayal, and redemption. The game opens with Kane being transported to jail. His prison bus is then assaulted by a very well-organized group of men, and one of the prisoners being transported with him shoots his cuffs off and threatens to kill him if he doesn't follow. You see, Kane was one of The 7, a group of mercenaries - until he ditched them with the money, during a mission that went bad.

Now they have his family. He's a dead man, but they'll let the family go if he gets the money back for them.

Its sequel, Kane and Lynch: Dog Days was released in late August 2010. After a Time Skip of 3 years, the plot focuses on the pair reuniting in Shanghai to oversee a black market arms deal. What initially seems to be an amiable if tepid rendez-vous between the pair quickly escalates into a mounting crisis that threatens to either destroy them or the city itself. And we all know which one they will choose...

There's a movie in the works, with Bruce Willis signed on as Kane and Jamie Foxx as Lynch.


The first game provides examples of:

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Subverted with "Reunion"—the entire opening (including the audio that plays during the loading screen) seems to indicate you'll be spending some time playing as Lynch, but unless you're Player 2 in a co-op game, it never happens.
  • Anti Heroes: Kane is a borderline Type IV/V because at the root of it what he really wants is to rescue and reunite with his daughter. He was plenty rotten before, but in the game's narrative he has an understandable and sympathetic motive. Lynch is more of a straight-up Villain Protagonist, depending on how sympathetic you are to his obvious mental illness; by the time the sequel rolls around he's a bit more likable.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: After the first few levels you're never going to use your pistol, ever.
  • Ax-Crazy: Lynch.
  • Bank Robbery: The Withdrawal level.
  • Blood Knight: Lynch!
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Once again, Lynch.
  • The Caper: The main focus of Fragile Alliance, the multiplayer mode for both games in the series.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Every character has one thing in common: a love of cursing. Although the situations they get themselves into don't leave much else to be said.
  • Continuity Drift: While the games function well as standalone stories, tying together both games' stories, the multiplayer, and the story of Hitman:Absolution will turn your brain into a pretzel. For one, Kane and Lynch are spotted a few times in the town of Hope, with Kane's nose broken, probably placing the events of this part during the period where before Kane and Lynch break the various "dead men" out of prison...despite the fact that the events of the first Kane & Lynch game are supposed to happen some time during Hitman: Blood Money. As if that's not enough, the multiplayer mode of the second game follows the expats and ostensibly takes place during the events of the singleplayer game according to the descriptions of various buyable weapons...including events that take place after Kane and Lynch kill the expats. The duo are also shown organizing the heists in Shanghai seen in multiplayer in various promotional videos for the Fragile Alliance mode, which they're never shown doing in the singleplayer story. For added fun, the Hitman games are among the DVD cases shown in a video store after the restaurant shootout, leading to a sort of weird one-way Mutually Fictional. Needless to say, the MST3K Mantra is in full effect here.
  • Crapsack World: Oh so very much.
  • Cryptic Background Reference / Canon Fodder: Kane's and Lynch's pasts intersect with quite a few of the other characters'.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both of the protagonists have this in spades. We learn more about Kane's past than Lynch's, but you can get a pretty good summary of both if you go to the official site.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Things will always go from bad to worse for the duo. The best example would be the part where Kane's wife is shot in front of him. He freaks out and beats the shooter to death with a shovel. You can also count the part in the boat ending where Jenny supposedly dies, or the short, purely auditory flashback in which Lynch finds his wife murdered and breaks down.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: The first mission has Kane gunning down waves of cops near - wait for it- a donut shop.
  • Double Caper: The bank robbery in which only half the money is obtained leads to the kidnapping of Retomoto's daughter in an attempt to get the other half. Might even qualify as a Triple Caper, since the catastrophic failure of the hostage exchange eventually leads to the raid on Retomoto's office tower, where they finally get the remaining money back...but not for the original reason they needed it.
  • Downer Ending: There are two endings in Dead Men - Damned If You Do, and Damned If You Don't. Note these are the ending achievements' official names. If you do, then Kane goes back and rescues as many as his men as he can from the church they're getting burned out of. However... they ditch him. His daughter gets wounded and dies. Lynch gets wounded and seems to be dying at the fade to black. That's how the game ends; alone on a boat with a corpse and someone who is about to become one. And if you don't... Kane takes his daughter and flees. The daughter vows to hate him forever. Lynch calls him a traitor. And that's it.
    • Actually, the sequel reveals that Kane's daughter is alive and estranged from him. She is not as dead as you think.
  • Dueling Games: Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was announced and released around the same time as the original Army Of Two, and had a similar premise (Automatic Cover-Based Third-Person Shooter set in a Darker and Edgier version of the real world with emphasis on Co-Op play between snarky and morally repugnant protagonists). By odd coincidence both games had sequels set in Shanghai, although Dog Days was announced several months after Army Of Two: The 40th Day.
    • They also have the same basic plot—A job goes south, and the title characters have to get out of Shanghai. Both received average reviews—although Dog Days received more praise for its plot than The 40th Day.
  • Escort Mission: Pops up a few times.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: Kane beating a man to death with a shovel for shooting his wife
    • Subverted in Dog Days. After Hsing murders Xiu in front of him, Lynch simply tackles him to the ground and uses an armlock to asphyxiate him. Lynch does however stare directly into his eyes as he expires.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Even if you try to turn Kane into The Atoner, the ending will kick you where it hurts.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Averted. They hate each other even more by the game's ending.
  • Four Point Scale: A Gamespot editor was, rumor has it, ''fired'' over panning this game hard, while they were running ads on the site.
    • Made worse by the fact that, while his video review did pan the game pretty hard, he gave the game a 6.0 overall. 6.0 isn't terrible- it means the game is average.
    • The reviews for Dog Days have ranged from "Awesome" to "Horrible", with most falling around "Average". So, at least the series is consistent!
  • From Bad to Worse: Kane's life seems to be made of this. His son shoots himself with his dad's pistol, he goes off to become a mercenary, a job goes bad, his comrades supposedly die and he goes to jail, he's broken out of jail only to be taken to his (not dead) comrades, stuck with a schizophrenic watchdog, and forced to find the money from the failed job to save his family, he gets half the money only to find out that his former associate Retomoto took the other half, he almost negotiates to get it all back until Lynch fucks it up, his wife is killed in front of him, his former friend Carlos betrays him, and depending on what ending you get, he either saves his daughter, leaves everyone else behind, and proves that he's a traitor, or saves the men in the church (one of who dies and one who ditches him) and gets stuck on a boat with a dying Lynch and his (probably) dead daughter.
    • Actually, Dog Days reveals that Kane's daughter is alive and estranged from him. This is probably the one positive part of Kane's life.
    • Also, according to Lynch's interrogation files on the official site, his life got progressively worse within the span of a few months.
      • Team Io seem to be attempting to make this series the Trope Codifier in this field.
  • Funny Schizophrenia: Averted with Lynch and his insanely depressing life.
  • Giant Mook: Scattered throughout the Retomoto Tower level in Dead Men are a handful of large, extra-tough goons armed with heavy machineguns and enhanced health.
  • Groin Attack: Lynch gets one from Yoko.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Kane is Alex Shepherd, Captain America and the Silver Surfer, and Lynch is Dr. Michael Kaufmann.
  • Hostage Situation: One of the most prominent set piece tropes in the series, seeing as our protagonists are career criminals to whom subtlety is anathema. Whenever this situation develops it turns out incredibly badly for them and quickly escalates events beyond their control.
  • Hurricane of Excuses: Lynch gives these whenever he's accused of something.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The three difficulty settings are named for painkillers: "Aspirin" (Easy), "Codeine" (Normal) and "Morphine" (Hard).
  • Implacable Man: The "heroic" duo have huge overtones of this that runs contrary to the otherwise "realistic" style of the series, able to shrug off gunshot with rebounding health as well as suffering gruesome punishment as part of the plot without going down for good. The first trailer for Dead Men even depicted Kane getting shot repeatedly to no effect, leading some to presume the protagonists were in some way supernaturally empowered.
  • In Name Only: The writers admitted straight off the bat that the film will have little to do with the games, and they only bought the rights because the current dearth of creativity in Hollywood means it's much easier to get a licensed project greenlit.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Kane and Lynch's exploits are reported in newspapers in Agent 47's adventures and the duo make cameo appearances in Hitman: Absolution. Less applicably, Agent 47 can be seen on posters in Kane & Lynch: Dead Men and copies of Hitman are found in Dog Days.
  • Interface Screw: From the first game: Whoever controls Lynch in co-op mode gets to see one of his psychotic episodes first-hand. Specifically, it's the part where, in single-player, Lynch opens fire on hostages for no apparent reason. Lynch claims they were attacking him, which you, or whoever is controlling Kane, clearly saw that they weren't. The person playing Lynch will actually see the hostages being rendered as police officers firing guns at them.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Lynch is definitely one of these in the first game.
  • Loading Screen: Used to provide exposition between levels in both games. Dog Days keeps the Stylistic Suck running by presenting the loading screen as a buffering online video.
  • Multiple Endings: Boils down to one choice in the first game. See Downer Ending.
  • Psycho for Hire: The main characters, particularly Lynch who actually is schizophrenic with psychotic episodes, and thus prone to bloodthirsty rages.
    • Lynch is a literal Psycho For Hire as of Dog Days, finding work as a henchman in Shanghai.
  • Punctuated Pounding:
    "YOU SHOULD! HAVE LET! ME TALK TO THEM!"
    Kane, while beating Mute to death with a shovel
  • Race Lift: Lynch, the white schizophrenic, is played by Jamie Foxx, a black actor, in the movie.
  • Real Is Brown: Both played straight and averted in the first game (the dance club had a lot of blue and green, while the Havana missions were mainly brown). Likewise in Dog Days you get to see all the technicolour shinyness of Shanghai's nightlife as well as the dull browns and grays of dock warehouses and apartment blocks.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lynch is red, Kane is blue.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In both games.
  • Sadistic Choice: And it's a cruel one, indeed.
    • Are you going to abandon your men or risk your daughter's life to save them? Either way, you lose.
    • The achievements you get for making the choice lampshade this in a subtle way. The achievement for getting one ending is 'Damned if you do', and the other is 'Damned if you don't'.
  • Screaming Warrior: Kane gets some mileage out of this trope in the launch trailer, which features him firing a machine gun at an attack chopper whilst bellowing from the bottom of his diaphragm. Of the two, Lynch takes the cake though.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Lynch in the movie's script. He uses the word "confabulated", for God's sake.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Accused by some people of being this. May be justified- after all, if you didn't take the helicopter and get the Consequence ending, your daughter is shot down right before you escape, when the whole game focused around you saving her.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Unfortunately, Lynch does this in a psychotic episode and makes a bad situation even worse.
  • Short Range Shotgun: Averted. In fact, the shotguns are probably one of the best weapons to use in any encounter (except when trying to take down snipers, of course). Indeed, in Dog Days the shotguns have better accuracy than the machine pistols (although this is mostly because the machine pistols suck).
  • Shout-Out: Level 11 is called Freedom Fighters, which was the name of a previous IO game.
    • Certain sequences in Dead Men seem like a direct homage to the films of Michael Mann. The botched bank heist heavily resembles the one in Heat, and the level set in a Tokyo Nightclub is very similar to the Asian nightclub shootout in Collateral.
  • Spiritual Successor: to IO Interactive's own Freedom Fighters: it uses a very similar interface, and both scores were composed by Jesper Kyd.
  • The Stoic: Kane seldom lets his temper get the better of him, but when he does...
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kane and Lynch are not the best of friends. Sometimes wavers into Enemy Mine territory, especially in Dead Men.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The franchise is arguably based around the premise of letting the player portray one half of this team dynamic while emulating the cinematic stylings of Michael Mann. In any other series the protagonists would probably being mid bosses for a more heroic protagonist to take out before the end of the first act.
  • TV Genius: Lynch in the movie, as early scripts seem to indicate.
  • Villain Protagonist: Both Kane & Lynch are interesting cases. The player is given a look at their motives, which are sympathetic, and neither are actively malicious...but they are criminals, through and through and they can and will go through anyone in their way, be they gangsters, cops or civilians, without much in the way of remorse.
    • The7 are established to be more evil than the protagonists by betraying Lynch and being willing to kill Kane's wife and daughter. Of course Kane is in this predicament in the first place because he betrayed The7, Lynch killed his wife and later ends up killing Retomoto's daughter.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: ...yeah, they would actually. Frequently even.
    • And in Dog Days executing a civilian (and headshots in general) will cause the victim's face to become digitally scrambled.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The plot absolutely refuses to give Kane a break. Lynch doesn't fare too well in the second game, either.
    • It's gotten to the point that you can figure out plot twists far in advance by just remembering that any Hope Spot will eventually turn into this.


The second game provides examples of:

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In the final level, you play as Kane.
  • Bad Boss: Lynch's boss, Glazer, is a petulant, racist, obnoxious expatriate crime lord.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Kane grows one in the three years between Dead Men and Dog Days.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The noodle shop Kane and Lynch eat at has no entrance, only a main dining area, a kitchen, some back rooms, and a loading entrance in a back alley.
  • Boom, Headshot: One of the few games where the AI can shoot the player character(s) in the head; let one get within point-blank range and there's a good chance they'll just execute you with a bullet to the head.
  • Camera Abuse: In Dog Days, the camera gets splattered with liquids, plagued with digital artifacts, and drops when you die.
  • The Caper: The multiplayer mode is a violent and bleak take on this trope. The cops are almost as bad as the robbers, and innocent civilians frequently get caught in the crossfire. The second half of a match will often devolve into a tense three-way tug-of-war over the cash between the cops, the robbers who just want to get out alive with the money, and robbers hell-bent on killing their teammates in order to get as much cash for themselves as possible.
  • Catch Phrase: Albeit unintentionally. The phrase "I don't fucking believe this!" and its variations makes up maybe a fifth of the game's script.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Being bled out by multiple box-cutter wounds, and being made to watch your lover's own gruesome fate.
  • Corrupt Cop: The Shanghai police department, to a truly astounding degree. Aside from being paid to personally kill Kane and Lynch, they're also not concerned with property damage or civilian casualties. Its SWAT team binding and gagging an entire restaurant staff in order to more effectively ambush the heroes is the least assholish thing they do.
  • Cutscene Boss: All of them.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Apparently the office workers in Shangsi's skyscraper have rocket launchers quick to hand just in case an unmedicated lunatic in a chopper starts strafing them with a heavy machine gun.
  • Darker and Edgier: Almost impossible to believe, but the second game is even more grim than the first. Whether or not it averts Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy depends on how much you really care about the protagonists.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kane in the sequel, especially at the beginning.
    Kane: When we're done playing gangster? I want to go to my hotel.
  • Downer Ending: Dog Days concludes with Kane and Lynch hijacking a commercial airliner full of innocent people and using it to escape Shanghai. Kane has failed to make a single dollar over the entire horrible affair to help Jenny, and Lynch has had his new life destroyed by the death of Xiu and the betrayal of his boss Glazer. They are both likely to have become the most wanted men on the continent as a result of the sheer magnitude of their crimes, meaning they might not even be able to land the plane even if they escape China. On top of all this, the two of them are now baby sitting an entire plane of hostages, and Lynch has an incredibly bad track record when it comes to hostages... Especially while under stress.
  • Elite Mooks: Shanghai Swat and Chinese soldiers, who have the best weapons in the game and body armor that lets them take more hits than the player can.
  • Escort Mission: Despite being protected by Kane, Lynch, and his bodyguard/driver, Glazer can still be a bitch to protect.
  • Evil Brit: Played straight by Glazer. An influential gang leader in the Shanghai underground and business associate to Lynch, he betrays the protagonists to Shangsi to win favour and wash his hands of their actions. When he attempts to help them in reconciliation, one of Shangsi's snipers messily ventilates his noggin.
  • Executive Meddling: The reason for the game existing- IO wanted to go back to Hitman and make Absolution, scheduled for a 2009/2010 release date, but Eidos decided that Kane and Lynch would be a big franchise and ordered them to make it- some fans say that Dog Days is bad on purpose because of it.
  • Fan Disservice: Hell, even without their horrible box-cutter wounds, the pair wouldn't be much to look at naked.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By Dog Days, Lynch seems to have warmed up to Kane, and even refers to him as "an old friend", though Kane doesn't show anything more than customary politeness to Lynch initially. While it'd be a stretch to ever call them friends, Kane is rather sympathetic following Xiu's death and they stick together to get out of Shanghai.
  • Five Stages of Grief: After Xiu's death Lynch goes from incoherent babbling to homicidal rage to overwhelming despair, then resets back to normal. It's possible that he's falling into another schizophrenic episode due to stress, but it's hard to tell.
  • Follow the Leader: March 2009: Army Of Two: The 40th Day is announced, and will feature Salem & Rios trying to get out of Shanghai after a job goes south. November 2009: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is announced, and will feature Kane & Lynch trying to get out of Shanghai after a job goes south.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The sixth chapter in Dog Days, "A Thousand Cuts", has the duo running and gunning through the streets of Shanghai bloodied and naked after escaping a bout of torture.
  • Hollywood Healing: Approximately half-way through Dog Days, the "heroes" get carved up like turducken by box cutters and bleed out long enough for one of them to lose consciousness. Not only are they hale and hearty enough to engage in lengthy firefights with police across three blocks minutes later, but after an hour and a change of clothes they are ready to oversee an arms deal. Both make mention of the significant pain they're in, and Kane is adamant to oversee the deal and get his payment (optimistic of him), but the sheer amount of cuts would require them to be jacked up to the eyeballs on adrenaline just to stay conscious, because if they had fallen asleep they wouldn't have woken up for a week.
  • How We Got Here: Dog Days commences with a short video depicting the protagonists being tortured and cuts out on Kane screaming with rage. The narrative then steps back two days to reveal why this is happening.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted in Dog Days. Kane and Lynch can only carry two weapons at a time, and any two-handed weapon will be strapped across their back when not in use. Additionally, they can only carry a few spare magazines for each weapon.
    • Played straight during "A Thousand Cuts", where once you grab a weapon you can't help but wonder where they keep all the spare magazines. The extra weapon they're carrying appear to be just pasted on their backs.
  • Idiot Ball: Hsing. When Lynch loses consciousness under torture he has him tossed into the trash, without finishing him off or even binding him. Minutes later an angry naked schizophrenic collapses his trachea.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In Dog Days, the final opponents fought in the game are a pair of dogs. Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation mocks this in his review of the game.
  • Interface Screw: The shaky cam goes completely nuts during the final shootout in front of Shangsi's office, most likely to emphasize the breaking point of Lynch's degenerating mental state.
  • Last Name Basis: While everyone still calls Lynch by his last name, it seems a little odd that Xiu calls him that too. Of course, it's entirely possible Lynch prefers it this way.
  • Madness Mantra: Lynch mumbles deranged, barely coherent nonsense during particularly intense shootouts in Dog Days.
  • Mooks but No Bosses
  • Morality Pet: Lynch's relationship with Xiu seems to imply that he is capable of forming meaningful relationships with women again. Needless to say, it doesn't end well for her.
  • No Ending: Dog Days's "end" is... polarizing to say the least.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Kane and Lynch unintentionally murder the daughter of the most powerful man in China, Shangsi. He decides that in lieu of this the best tactical choice is not to have them arrested, their car bombed or their food poisoned. Instead he decides to send the entire Shanghai police department at them in a bloody vendetta that tears a large part of the city apart, and eventually dispatches fully armed soldiers and attack choppers.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: One of the biggest complaints against Dog Days.
  • Only in It for the Money: The only reason Kane's in Shanghai is for the money that he's supposed to get from the arms deal.
  • Painting the Medium: To the point where you wonder if the cameraman is an actual character. Hell, possibly confirmed by the fact that one of the Chinese soldiers physically grabs the camera after Kane and Lynch hop on the train.
  • Phrase Catcher: Each of the multiplayer characters would like to remind those left behind, via radio, not to ever underestimate them.
  • Satellite Love Interest: One common criticism is that Xiu has roughly 10 lines, exists for little other reason than to provide motivation for Lynch, and gets Stuffed In The Fridge just to top it all off.
  • Screaming Warrior: Lynch, especially his epic "DON'T FUCK WITH ME!!!" in the Shangshi Tower climax.
  • Sequel Escalation: Unusually for a big-budget action game, inverted. The first K&L game was a globe-trotting squad-based shooter set across three countries, having players pull off two large-scale heists and a Cuban revolution, spanning at least a week, story-wise, and with a pretty vast number of grenades and guns available for use by players. The second game is a brutal and short Shaggy Dog Story set in a single city over the course of a couple days, and eschews many of the first game's mechanics in favor of streamlining the gameplay.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The deal Kane & Lynch reunited for in the first place falls through, and the majority of the game is the two of them just scrambling around trying to get out of Shanghai, ending the moment they manage to catch a flight (AKA hijack a plane) out of the city.
  • Shoot the Hostage: It really bites them in the ass this time, where it turns out the girl that they accidentally kill in the first chapter is the daughter of an incredibly powerful (and corrupt) government official.
  • Stuffed In The Fridge: Xiu
  • Stylistic Suck: To a truly epic degree.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Lynch.
  • Talkative Loon: Lynch will often mutter to himself during firefights.
  • Trailers Always Lie: No, the two aren't actually tailed by a news crew during their adventures, but you wouldn't know that from the ads. Promotional ads also showed Kane and Lynch organizing the heists seen in multiplayer and arcade mode, which wouldn't make any sense story-wise.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In Dog Days civilians can see two heavily armed white guys, each packing two firearms at once, and sometimes completely fail to react. This is mainly noticeable after you enter the alleyway the restaurant, where a man will just kind of stand there with a bemused look on his face no matter what you do (up to and including shooting people in front of him).
    • Lynch even lampshades this later on in Shangsi's tower by pointing out that two white guys with automatics will stand out quite a bit in Shanghai. This is mainly because by then they have raised five flavours of hell, and even average civilians would be in on the manhunt.
  • Viral Marketing: A rather bizarre marketing campaign played up the game's YouTube-ish Stylistic Suck to such a degree that you'd think Kane and Lynch were actually being tailed by the paparazzi.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him??: Played stunningly straight by Shangsi. After pursuing the boys all over Shanghai with hundreds of police officers operating under orders to shoot to kill, they suddenly decide to apprehend them rather than kill them, then escort them across the city in a military grade transport helicopter without even restraining them. Which gives them the chance to steal said chopper and directly assault Shangsi's office. What an Idiot.

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alternative title(s): Kane And Lynch; Kane And Lynch 2 Dog Days
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