(Editor’s note: Though initially slated to run this Saturday at midnight, The Last Dragon seems to have been pulled from the Coolidge’s schedule. That said, it’s still a totally fun little movie, and pretty easy to track down, so if you don’t have anything better to do tonight, why not pick it up and pop it in?)
Bruce Leroy is a young black martial artist and The Last Dragon chronicles his New York City journey in becoming a martial arts master. It’s ’80s cheese in its own way, but dated or not it’s a very successful inversion of the kung-fu genre, closer to the eccentric slightly supernatural successes of Big Trouble in Little China than the fading mainstream moves of something like Karate Kid. As purely American kung-fu goes, The Last Dragon is a friendly PG pillar of the genre.
Leroy is a classic outsider, trying to make his way, in his own way. It’s a hard road that many of us can probably relate to traveling. Luckily for Leroy he’s got a leg up on most: he’s got THE GLOW. He can manifest his inner energy, VISUALLY, and forcefully. Bruce Leroy is the man, the Bruce Lee worshipping man. But can he harness his power?
Sho’nuff (“The Shogun of Harlem”), another martial artist also vying to become a martial arts master is Bruce’s nemesis. Great bad guy. Great look (that Busta Rhymes later borrowed). There’s another bad guy in this film too. But who cares. It’s all about Leroy vs. Sho’nuff. Movie theater showdowns. Glowing hand offs. All of it produced by Motown’s Berry Gordy, who was quite involved in the production.
A little on the family entertainment end of the movie spectrum, The Last Dragon is nevertheless a classic of its kind and unusually, a legit psychotronic picture that can be enjoyed by most, if not all.
The Last Dragon
dir. Michael Schultz