All movie fans reserve a small space in their movie-addled brains for a
favorites. The two films I best
remember as my
"grown-up" movies are Band of the Hand (1986) and Berry
Last Dragon (1985).
Having seen both films in the theater, they have lived large in my
super-cool epics of
action, adventure, and wonder. When the opportunity to rewatch The
Dragon on DVD came
up I leapt for joy. I still vividly remembered many of the key scenes
and figured that
if the movie is one-tenth as cool as it seemed to my nine-year old self then it would still be
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Last Dragon again after
years, but I can't say that that was because the movie was good,
The Last Dragon is the kind of movie that makes it hard to
the creators were full grown adults. For instance, one of the main
villains is a
rich toy manufacturer who is willing to kill anybody who stands in the
way of his
getting his girlfriend's music video "Dirty Books" onto a strange music
hosted by Laura (Prince's one-time plaything Vanity). Now, I think that
tycoons are as evil as can be, but I doubt any of them have
monsters living in murky tanks in their offices ready to devour competitors alive.
The Last Dragon mixes childish comedy with childish melodrama
much flair for pacing of subtlety. Of course, it also confuses Chinese
culture with the same disregard for common sense. That's because that
this film is about. It
is simply about the plight of young Bruce Leroy.
Trying to live the
life of a kung fu master in the inner city must certainly be
tough, especially with all of these setbacks, but Leroy (the comatose
perseveres. A jive-talkin' kung fu movie was a great idea, but the
elements don't jive.
Plus, the film never makes
the obvious connection between break dancing and martial arts. That's
Other than that what's left is bad acting (except for young Leo O'Brien
Leroy's brother, and the insane Julius Carry as Sho'nuff, a cross between Gene Simmons and Ol Dirty Bastard), bad fight scenes, bad technical elements,
(other than DeBarge's immortal "Rhythm of the Night" the soundtrack is
Motown, what were you
thinking?). Director Michael Schultz's career has had highs (Car
lows (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) but the loose wit
films (like Cooley
muted here. Still, I found myself cracking up constantly. This ain't no
film, but it is a hoot.
Note: Look for William H. Macy in a small role as a producer on Laura's Video Hot Pix.
The widescreen video looks good. It's hardly a beautiful looking film
and some parts
are a bit dark, but the transfer looks fine. A full screen version is on the other side.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and sounds good. The sound effects are
cheesy, but they have some punch. The music sounds ok (but then again,
the music is
The soundtrack is also available in French and Portuguese with subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Portuguese.
The extras include a commentary track, bios, and trailers for Gen-X Cops, Maximum Risk, and Jackie Chan's Who Am I?. The commentary track, featuring director Michael Schultz, is actually very informative and includes a great deal of information about the creation of the film, the troubles of making a predominantly black film in the Hollywood system, and the many creative hurdles along the way (like when Schultz accidentally deleted 40 pages of script. Oops!)
The main audience for The Last Dragon will be folks who fondly
it, like I do, from their childhood. It's hard to imagine most people
seeing it for the
first time now and seeing past the silliness. Considering that it was
once the highest
grossing martial arts movie in American film history, The Last
deserves a look. Still, it's got nothing on Bruce, Jackie, and Jet.
Other films by director Michael Schultz:
Other martial arts DVDs: