PajuahPurnellProfessorChildressENG102119January 2018 Who’s the Master?TheLast Dragon (1985) TheLast Dragon by director Michael Schultz is a martial arts comedy releasedin 1985 that is a spoof of one of the most famous karate movies ever: Enter the Dragon. This movie was filmedas a comedic re-launch of the Bruce Lee film that was released in 1973. BerryGordy, who is the film’s executive producer along with Schultz, have managed toincorporate comedy, drama, and karate romance all into one. Despite that it didnot look very modern when it opened, this martial arts musical is still amemorable 80s classic that included this three things: “the guy always does theimpossible to get the girl, the good guy wins the big fight at the end, andfinally the main point of the story is just simply an everyday lesson” (Kruse) The film focuses on Bruce Leroy (Taimak) in Harlem. He is told by hisMiyagi that he needs to find the Master in order to obtain a glow or a type ofhigher spiritual plane.
Being at peace is part of his training, so he choosesnot to fight his arch- rival Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. However, Leroyalso finds himself distracted by Laura Charles (Vanity), a disco queen whom he rescues from thugs sent by awanna-be mobster Eddie Arkadian (ChrisMurray). “Leroy finds that the non-violent path is not an easy one to walkand sooner or later he must face his destiny” (Yousef). Schultz (dir.) “with the backing of Motown mogul Berry Gordy, the film’smid-1980s dance and up-tempo tunes are appealing but the story and charactersmake it mediocre” (Donalson 89). The tone of the film unfolds in a goofy, funvibe.
The movie is not meant to be taken seriously, The Last Dragon sends its message in a more light-hearted manner.Schultz (dir.) mentions in the DVDcommentary that he wanted the film to be ‘cartoony’, “through the use of eitherof bright, pastel colors or flat-looking dance performance numbers set onsoundstages” (Donalson 89). TheLast Dragon “further suffers from pointless dialogue and kooky charactersthat alternate between fantasy and stupidity. In one part of the dialogue Leroyis speaking in a simplistic, broken English to highlight his adaptation ofChinese manners. Leroy’s expression of mystical ideas and thoughts isfrequently described by his rival as ‘mumbo jumbo'” (Donalson 89).
In general, the other characters inthe film remain animated and bland, disappointing an audience to care aboutthem in any degree. Finally, Melvin Donalson stated “onewould expect back then this film as an expensive, high-tech production”. But,this does not make up for its weaknesses with the action sequences. Even thoughSchultz (dir.
) does a decent jobdirecting these moments, nothing stands out in performance or intensity. “Insome ways, the scheme of showing actual Bruce Lee footage works against The Last Dragon” (Donalson 90). Despitethat the story calls for the character, Leroy, “to mimic the physical moves ofhis idol Bruce Lee, the fight sequences of TheLast Dragon remain only a shallow copy of action seen elsewhere” (Donalson 90). I would give the rating a 3 out 5 sincethis is a classic I grew up on in terms of music and comedy but the specialeffects and story line could have been better. For the overall message of thefilm Schultz (dir.) hoped that”presenting a young black heroic character who had values and had positivetraining, being seen as a corn ball character by other people but ultimatelybelieving in his own power, could overcome evil, would be a thing that wouldresonate with youthful audiences”, and it did (Axmaker, para. 9). Being someoneliving in a generation where movies have to make sense, a typical person wouldsimply ask these two questions: Is it just a 80s ninja flick? Is it just a longmusic video? Overall, I would recommend it if you want a laugh but do not tryto figure out the actual point of this cult classic.
Works CitedAxmaker, Sean. “The Last Dragon.” Turner ClassicMovies, www.tcm.com/this-month/article/294706%7C0/The-Last-Dragon.html.Donalson, Melvin. “Michael Schultz: The CrossoverKing.
” Black Directors in Hollywood, Univ. of Texas Press, 2003,pp. 78–94.Gonzalez, Francisco. “The Last Dragon(1985).” The Film Connoisseur, 22 May2013, filmconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-last-dragon-1985.
html?m.Kruse, Jarrett. “Looking Back at The Last Dragon.” Denof Geek, 2 June 2013,www.denofgeek.
com/us/movies/the-last-dragon/127143/looking-back-at-the-last-dragon.Schultz, Michael, director. The Last Dragon.TriStar Pictures, 1985.
Film.Youseph, Ramon. “The Last Dragon (1985).
” Kung-FuKingdom, 13 Mar. 2015, kungfukingdom.com/the-last-dragon-movie-review/.