Written by Craig Sutton | @thelastglow
The Last Dragon was introduced to the world on March 22, 1985. It’s a Funny Kung Fu Fairy Tale set to 80’s Motown Music. Although it was screened at a relatively small number of theatres it managed to pull in almost 26 million at the US box office. 30 years later it’s still played on TV all over the world, celebrated at conventions and the theme of many social media memes.
It’s a cult favorite passed from generation to generation. I am amazed at the number of young children that know and love The Last Dragon. My own 3 year daughter loves to quote Bruce Leroy’s “Those bound by desire…” line and calls any pretty girl with big hair, Laura Charles. 😉
What Makes The Last Dragon so Special?
Its an underdog story that resonates with anybody who’s ever felt bullied, underestimated or a little different. For fans of The Last Dragon this isn’t just another cheesy 80’s movie- it holds a special place in their hearts. The daily comments on social media and roars from the crowd at screenings is evidence of the curious infatuation people still have with this movie. From helping people to understand its ok to be different or teaching the power of believing in yourself; The Last Dragon is an inspirational action film with a message.
The Greatest Last Dragon Video Review Ever!
In honor of The Last Dragon’s 30th Birthday I’d like to share a review that I feel best captures the essence of The Last Dragon. It was posted by Tony Douglas to his Rating The Movies YouTube Channel. I’ve also included a transcript of the review below the video. Kudos to Tony for this…
Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to rating the movies my name is Tony Douglas and tonight we kick off our cult movie showcase with the one and only Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. This feel good martial arts film with a whole lotta heart and a back beat you can dance to was released in 1985 and was directed by Michael Schultz.
The Last Dragon, although set in contemporary New York, successfully maintains all the exotic elements of Asia cinema. The story revolves around a young man’s search to obtain the final level of martial arts mastery known as the glow.
The Last Dragon deserves a place in film history as a kung fu motion picture with a difference.
It’s a unique blend of action, comedy, romance, fantasy, martial arts philosophies and Motown music. Yes that’s a mouthful but somehow the film weaves a magic that successfully spoofs other genres and trends whilst at the same time works in its own realm.
The Last Dragon has a cleverness that’s hard to shake and a novelty factor that has not being replicated since.
It is riddled with memorable one-liners “who’s the master?!?” and can boast numerous stand-out moments. Who can forget the Enter the Dragon sequence in the rowdy movie theater, Vanity’s rendition of seventh heaven, the action-packed Bruce Lee music video and of course the fantastic ending that simply glows off the screen.
Featuring a cast of unknowns The Last Dragon extracts a charming performance by newcomer Taimak as Bruce Leroy, the hero in the title, who wears Asian straw hats, eats popcorn with chopsticks and spreads fortune cookie wisdom to whomever he meets.
Every great film needs a larger-than-life villain and Julius Carry, in a caricature performance, fits the bill perfectly. Carving out an imposing presence as Leroy’s adversary, Sho’nuff. To add additional fright Christopher Murney spoofs Gene Hackman’s performance in Superman. Murney plays Eddie Arcadian a two-bit record producer and wanna be criminal mastermind. For extra spice Murney’s female sidekick Faith Prince is clearly having the time of her life doing her best Valerie Perrine impersonation. Another nod and a wink to Superman the Movie.
Also fun to watch are Leroy’s fast talking little brother Richie, played by the late Leo O’Brien, and Leroy’s enthusiastic student Johnny Yu played by Glen Eaton. Glen’s performance is a delightful ball of energy and character deserving of it’s very own kung fu title.
The icing on the cake however is the performance by sultry pop star Vanity (Denise Matthews) who radiates a sweetness seldom seen in her other work. Also look out for William H Macy in a small role as Vanity’s make up artist.
Add to this mix the infectious Debarge soundtrack, Rhythm of Night, and you will understand why The Last Dragon has become a cult classic that fans continue to celebrate.
Released in the mid 80’s to respectable box office and booming video rentals fans have often wondered why there wasn’t a sequel to this rare treat. In a strange way the lack of a sequel rises the status of this film. While The Last Dragon didn’t aim for the deeper issues of The Karate Kid before it; the film is nevertheless just as entertaining.
It’s a big ball of Kung Fu attitude, a glitzy glossy music fuelled, chop sake extravaganza. If you are a martial arts aficionado and haven’t seen it do yourself a favour and check out this kung fu gem.
In its own way the last dragon could even be viewed as an energize tribute to the legend of Bruce Lee. Whatever the case The Last Dragon is the ultimate martial arts cult movie.
Here’s a few pics from the latest 30th Anniversary Celebration in Newark, NJ follow The Last Dragon 30th Anniversary Celebration Tour on Facebook for more pics and info on upcoming 30th Anniversary Events.
Check out these other articles about the 30th Anniversary of The Last Dragon:
- Grantland.com: ‘The Last Dragon’ 30 Years Later: A Glowing Glory of Kung Fu, Magic, and Progressive Racial Politics
- BlackFilm.com: Exclusive: Taimak Talks The Last Dragon 30 Years Later
- TheLastDragonTribute.com: Sho’nuff Interrupts The Last Dragon 30th Anniversary Screening
- The Last Dragon 30th Anniversary Facebook Page: Photos from Newark 30th Anniversary
- The Urban Action Showcase Facebook Page: Photos from New York City 30th Anniversary Warm-up
- IamTaimak.com: How to Get Involved in The Last Dragon’s 30th Anniversary
- TheLastDragonTribute.com: Upcoming 30th Anniversary Events
TheLastDragonTribute.com is a blog dedicated to preserving the joy of Berry Gordy’s 1985 Motown meets Kung Fu cult classic The Last Dragon & Partner of The 2015 Last Dragon 30th Anniversary Celebration. Follow us from the links below for your daily dose of the Glow!