One of the biggest childhood favorites that I gladly admit to loving is “The Last Dragon.”
Many film buffs based in knowing cult classics or bad films in general just know what film I’m talking about and they just can’t help talk about and bask in all its pure horrid presence.
But back when the CW was simply WPIX Channel 11 in New York, their rotating limited library of films were cyclical to the point where I knew what would be on before it came on. I recall always reading TV Guide and cutting out the small pictures advertising certain films appearing within the week.
“The Last Dragon” is a bad movie, but sadly it’s a good memory of my childhood. To a young boy like me, this was the action genre at its finest, with amazing performances, and a climactic battle that rivaled Luke and Darth.You can stop laughing now.
Anyway, “The Last Dragon” is the worst kind of Bruce Lee homage. Imagine a kung fu film built in the same vein “The Wiz” was. A young man named Bruce Leroy (Taimak, whose acting is at par with Hayden Christensen) who is genuinely a martial arts buff and appears at low rent theaters dressed in traditional garb of kung fu masters eating popcorn with chopsticks finds himself at the mercy of a local shogun.
This Shogun is named “Sho’ Nuff the Shogun of Harlem” who also walks around in Samurai garb and the traditional hairdo. He finds himself hating Leroy, and plans to kill him, while Leroy battles an evil music promoter, and searches for an ultimate power known as “The Glow.”
This leaves the film open for a lot of music blaring over the dialogue nine times out of ten, wildly neon set pieces, and a ridiculous montage of Bruce Lee scenes playing while Leroy goes orgasmic and kisses his love interest who happens to be the local popular VJ.
I was never sure if “The Last Dragon” was honestly intended as a film aimed for the African American demographic a la “The Wiz,” or if it was an honest spoof of martial arts films that marketed on the pop of the eighties in the process, because if you watch this you know the film is laughably bad, but you can’t help but wonder if the actors know this.
Suffice it to say, “The Last Dragon” is swill, but the dialogue is often times so catchy, and the scenes so memorable, you’ll find yourself recollecting it whether you realize it or not. Watching Leroy eating popcorn with chopsticks while the audience behind him in the theater mimics the martial arts movie playing, or the Shogun of Harlem.
Later spoofed in a Busta Rhymes music video, “Sho’ Nuff” the Shogun is probably the most memorable aspect of this film for all the wrong reasons. With long hair, a bright red outfit, and teeth he flashes like a dog, Julius Carry (who thankfully went on to better things) utterly defines the term over the top with a villain that’s too cartoon to be threatening.
“The Last Dragon” is not particularly a bad film to me, but more a bad film that I can’t help think of with fond memories, because I’ve seen it repeatedly, and couldn’t help gush over it, especially in the climax where Leroy catches a bullet with his teeth, and proceeds to mimic Bruce Lee’s signature Kung-Fu arm wave in a multi-colored sequence.
Oy, why I ever loved this film, I’ll never know. But you have to respect it for being so bad without apology. “The Last Dragon” shows that obsessions with Bruce Lee can lead to awful results.
Oh yes, word has it Taimak is trying to fuel a sequel to this. ‘Sho Nuff.
Save the cheerleader, save the world.