OK, here's what I mean by refleshing the story without excessively contradicting what's been done before. I think it's more interesting (and less cheesy), but you may disagree. I focused on why the characters joined the tournament more than anything else. Akira -- the typical Japanese hero. While younger, his sister was raped and killed by a bunch of gangsters in front of his very eyes. He could do nothing because his skills were undeveloped. This gives him the motivation and intensity to excel in martial arts and drives him to be the strongest in the world. He has since taken his revenge on the gangsters but leads an emotionally empty life. Fighting is the only thing that keeps him going forward. Pai -- the daughter of Lau. Lau trains Pai mercilessly as she grew up. The training is so severe that Pai breaks down and runs away. She is taken in by another school where she leads a separate life unbeknowest to Lau and fuses her school's art with Lau's. She joins the tournament as a coming-of-age gesture and to represent her school. She has also been spotted in the streets by a talent agency and has had some limited success in movies, usually action flicks. Lau -- Lau's background is a little mysterious, but rumors point to his involvement in a widespread crime organization in his younger days. Apparently, he had been a high ranking member of the organization (the J6) until for some unknown reason he left the organization and went into hiding (or was he forced out?) and is now working as a low key chef in restaurants. Assassins from the J6 have been trying to find him, and perhaps this is the reason why Lau had pushed Pai so hard. Lau joins the tournament when he finds out that Pai is in it; he is eager to see how far she has progressed and secretly wishes to make peace with her as a father, even though his Confucian pride would not let him. Sarah -- the daughter of an influential politician and sister to Jacky, Sarah was kidnapped at a very young age (8-10 years old) by the J6 in order to extract a key political favor. The J6 never intended to return Sarah alive. However, a member in the organization took pity on her and privately took her into the organization. He masqueraded her death (i.e. the building in which she was to be returned to blew up--her family believes her to be dead). She was hypnotized to forget her past and was trained anew as an assassin for the organization. This is so secret that by the time Sarah grew up and actively participated in the J6, the organization itself had no knowledge she was the same girl they had kidnapped. She joins the tournament when the man she was hired to assassinate resurfaces--Lau, the very man who saved her life. Lion -- Lion is the son of one of the "godfather" figures in the J6. He is a young man determined to climb to the upper most ranks of the crime organization. It is the J6, in fact, that is secretly behind the tournament in order to gather "data" for their secret project: brainwashing an army of killers with the martial arts of the most powerful fighters in the world. Lion joins the tournament to gain the respect of the organization (who previously had not taken him as seriously because of his young age). Lion is also interested in car racing and has an ambition to compete professionally. Jacky -- Jacky led a normal life as the politician's son. He demonstrated an extraordinary talent for martial arts and a passion for car racing. In one of his races, he defeats on the racing track and embarrasses a newcomer to the racing scene, Lion. Enraged, Lion wants to take revenge but is unable to draw Jacky into a fight. Lion learns of the secret behind Sarah and leaks the information to Jacky. Jacky, learning of the possibility that his long lost sister might still be alive, joins the tournament. Kage -- Kage is a member of centuries old cult/school/village that had in the past served as the protectors and assassins of Japan's emperors. Now that the era of the samurai is over, the school continues its tradition of martial arts but is low key and exists as a small, uninteresting village. Kage's mother, however, is famous among martial arts circles; not only was she the most advanced in the arts of the village, but she was well versed in other arts as well. Years ago, the J6 approached his mother, requesting her to participate in their program to create the perfect fighting army. His mother refused and the J6 unleashed its army onto the village. Kage was in university when the massacre happened; by the time he learned what had happened and returned the village, the village had been burnt to the ground, friends and family killed, but he was unable to find his mother's body. Kage has been seeking revenge ever since. Recently, he hears of a mysterious being defeating other famous martial arts masters, and that this being's style of fighting was reminiscent to his mother's. Kage learns that this being will be in the tournament; this being, of course, is Dural. Kage joins the tournament to investigate the connection. Shun Di -- Shun is one of the famous martial arts masters that Dural defeated. However, Shun was caught unprepared against Dural and had no alcohol on hand when he was defeated. Shun knew Kage's mother; he noticed the similarity in style and he was the one who informed Kage of the connection. Shun joins the tournament to take revenge for his unhonorable defeat. Jeffry -- Jeffry grew up in a quiet fishing village. His father is a master of Pancratium; a wise, peaceful and unassuming man well experienced in the hardships of life who had chosen to withdraw from the circle of martial arts and lead a quiet life. When Jeffry kills a man-eating shark terrorizing the Florida coast he quickly achieved fame, featured in national broadcasts and shows. When up and coming martial artists hear of him, eager to make a name of their own by challenging him, Jeffry emerges easily victorious. The more Jeffry fights, the more famous he becomes and the more addicted to fighting he gets. Jeffry's inner conflict is his growing maniacal addiction to fight and the values of peace and pacificism that his father had taught him. When he receives an invitation to join the tournament, he accepts. Will the tournament push Jeffry over the edge? Wolf -- Wolf grew up an orphan. He was bullied mercilessly for his mixed heritage in the orphanage he grew up in. Wolf runs away at an early age and finds a mentor in a famous, retired pro wrestler known for his dominance in his younger days. Wolf too became a wrestler, in both the glitzy ring of the WWF and the underground, where fights are often fought to the death. One day, Wolf's mentor is found murdered. Wolf receives an invitation to the tournament and a note welcoming him to take revenge for his mentor. Wolf joins the tournament. Aoi -- Aoi is the star of her dojo, a talent of undiscovered potential. She joins the tournament to represent the school and to see what she is capable of. But what drives her to such intensity to excel? It turns out that she was given away at a very early age because her peasant family were too poor to support a "girl" unable to help them earn a living. Aoi as a child ended up on the streets begging for food. When a sensei from the school noticed her and the fire in her eyes, the sensei took her in and raised her as his own daughter. The fire in Aoi has never died, and Aoi is out to prove her worth to the world. Lei Fei -- Lei Fei is a righteous and arrogant man. Having heard of the mysterious being defeating other martial arts masters through unhonorable means--often to the point of death and incapacitation, using no mercy--Lei Fei vows to seek justice on behalf of the entire martial arts community and joins the tournament to seek Dural out. Vanessa -- No one knows who her parents are, but Vanessa grew up in a group of mercenaries. Vanessa herself became a soldier, selling her services to any willing country/army. However, with the world running out of wars, Vanessa grows bored. She hears of the tournament and decides to join it. Aight, these are the bare bones. I'm not sure how the story can be divvied out into four tournaments, but I'm sure it could be easily done.