Vault of Gems: The Last Dragon


Let me preface by saying that The Last Dragon is a 80s film. With that in mind, consider all the strange and interesting traits of that decade. This movie reeks of the 1980s. For The Last Dragon to be enjoyed, it cannot be taken seriously. This film is more a parody then anything. The Last Dragon makes light of the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s and the martial arts action flicks of the 1980s and early 1990s. This is a comedy, and if you watch it as a comedy then it suddenly becomes hilarious.

The Last Dragon is not a good movie. It has a horrible plot and plays to a lot of stereotypes. The fight choreography is sub-par, even for the era in which it was filmed. The characters are cartoony and over the top. And the one liners are so absurd. So why is The Last Dragon considered a gem? Because of the ridiculous one-liners, over the top characters, outrageous stereotypes, horrible choreography, and did I mention over the top characters.

The movie follows the adventure of Bruce Leeroy (Yes Bruce…Lee…roy) as he attempts to obtain the mystic glow of a martial arts master. He is foiled by a fellow martial artist named Sho Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. Sho Nuff and his goons alone are worth watching this film. Their outfits are enough to incite laughter. Their one-liners are hilarious, especially Sho Nuff himself. He steals the show with his over the top 1980s campy gangster swag. Alone the way Bruce Leeroy falls in love and ultimately has to save his love interests from the clutches of Sho Nuff and the film’s other villain.

This movie was produced by Motown (Yes the same Motown as the music) and in a lot of ways was a motion advertisement from some of their budding young stars. The lead female was a Motown artist, and a few Motown videos of the time were integrated into parts of the film. For example, the attentive viewer can stop a young Wesley Snipes dancing in a music video that is featured in the movie.

The fighting sequences are so bad they are hilarious, which may have been the intention. The final sequence however, isn’t that bad. By this point you are used to the campiness of the characters. The element that really makes the fighting entertaining is the one-liners and the overuse of the kiai.

The stereotypes in this movie are outrageous. There are plethora of both Black American and Asian American stereotypes. However, I didn’t find them offensive but rather quite hilarious. They fit in the context of the film along with the absurd ridiculous outfits and dialogue.

Ultimately, The Last Dragon is a gem if you’re a fan of martial arts films or campy cartoony stories involving over the top characters. This movie will make you laugh at its ridiculousness. It is one of my all time favorites to enjoy. This movie is not for everyone. Some will not be able to look past its flaws and discover its hidden charm. However, those that are able to stomach the campiness will find the movie extremely entertaining.

If you’ve seen the movie what did you think of it? Comment Below.


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