The Last Dragon is a film that was produced by Motown Records in the mid eighties as a sort of a Kung Fu comedy flick. It was really meant to promote some music from the company like Oh Sheila, but the flick has actually stood the test of time as one of the all time must download movies of the eighties. It’s a lot of fun, it’s kind of corny, and it works as an action movie.
The story follows a young man nicknamed “Bruce Leroy”, a Harlem martial artist who teaches Kung Fu to the local kids. He works at his father’s pizza place, delivering pies on foot and deals with his rival, Sho’Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem… Yep. Sho’Nuff… The Shogun of Harlem. This incredibly goofy martial arts tale takes place on the real streets of modern day Harlem and creates a really quirky, one of a kind movie.
Sho’Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, is really a cinematic treasure as far as great film characters go. He tries to egg Bruce Leroy into a fight so that he can prove, once and for all, who the strongest fighter in the city is. Every time he steps on scene, it’s with a short speech, aided by his lackeys. “Am I the prettiest?!” “SHO NUFF!” “Am I the baddest?!” “SHO NUFF!” “Am I the meanest, leanest mofo around dis town?!” “SHO NUFF!” “SHO’NUFF! Da Shogun of Harlem!” He wears visor sunglasses, a samurai’s hakama (those baggy pants that disguise foot movement), and shoulder pads, as well as a top knot… He looks ridiculous and he’s just a joy to behold.
The only downside to the movie is the comparatively less interesting subplot revolving around a really, really awful Cyndi Lauper style singer and her manager/boyfriend who’s trying to get her some airtime on a local music show, produced and hosted by Bruce Leroy’s would-be-lover. This subplot isn’t the most interesting part of the film, but fortunately it’s not a main focus.
And of course, it does pay off in the end when the manager hires all the baddest dudes in the city to have it out with Bruce Leroy and his students. These “bad dudes” include a big fat old white guy with a Mister T Mohawk and an all gold one piece suit… Yep, real bad dudes, these guys.
There are also some really fun, corny moments along the way. At one point, Leroy tries to seek wisdom from the guy who writes the fortune cookies at the local Chinese restaurant, only to find that they’re written by a computer. Therein he finds that zen wisdom of emptiness and being.
Could the movie have been a bit better without the subplot about the record promoter and his girlfriend? Sure, but there’s always something about every movie where it “could have been better”. Regardless, what’s there is a fun, funny, corny, exciting little gem of a film. Half kung fu, half spoof of kung fu, and all eighties.
So it’s exciting, it’s funny, and it has all the goofiness and colorful style you want from an eighties movie. Give it a download.
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