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The Last Dragon!
by: Dr. Boogie

When my brother and I were kids, our parents were out a lot, and our babysitter would keep us entertained with a variety of movies. Occasionally, we'd see something we liked, and we'd watch it again. There was one movie, though, that we wound up watching countless times. I can't remember if it was because we liked it, or because our babysitter ran out of tapes, but after seeing it again a decade or so later, I'm leaning toward the former. It's a quaint little story about a boy and a girl, and an evil record producer, and a cartoonish martial arts villain... and it's called The Last Dragon.

It starts off simple enough: the audience is treated to some mancandy; our hero, Leroy Green, is going through some exercises while the Motown-inspired theme song plays in the background. Rest assured that this isn't the last time you'll see him without a shirt on. Anyway, the scene soon changes to young Leroy engaged in a training exercise.

His master fires arrows at him, and he deftly smacks them in half. Very useful, if he's ever attacked by the Sioux nation. He mixes up the routine a little by catching the last arrow, which just happens to have blue feathers instead of black. How did he know that, him master asks of him? Was it because it was the third arrow, and his master just works in patterns? No, he just knew, he explained. Well that tears it. When you can guess the color of arrow feathers, you have officially moved beyond receiving colored belts (or dragon patches, in this case). His training is complete. One thing is still bugging ol' Leroy: when he masters... whatever martial art he's working on, he's supposed to give off some kind of glow to signify his mastery, and yet he merely glistens with sweat. His master tells him that he must make the final part of his journey alone, and hurls a slew of other vague martial arts clichés at him. Leroy whines at him some more, and so the master gives him a parting gift:

A medallion of some sort that purportedly belonged to Bruce Lee. All Leroy has to do is find Sum Dum Goy, the "wisest man in the universe," who happens to live right there in New York, and give him the medallion. No sweat. Leroy changes into his best Chinese apparel, excuses himself from his master's houseboat, and begins his search. However, he can't expect to finish his life's journey in a single day, so he takes a break to go see a movie.

He doesn't seem to mind that the Bruce Lee film is being enjoyed by some folks who've just come from a production of Fame. Trouble arises, however, when the hooting and hollering of the audience is interrupted by a couple of breakdancers and their boombox. Can't they see that people are trying to watch the movie? No one is impressed by the way they break it down, and one Asian fellow decides to mimic Bruce Lee.

This was back when all Asian people knew kung fu. The crowd is understandably impressed, and for a moment, their cheering is directed at the radio-stomping vigilante. However, his title of "toughest guy in theater" will soon come into question:

The movie stops, the lights flicker for a moment, and a bunch of extras from Beyond Thunderdome enter the theater to herald the arrival of a new threat. It... he enters, and launches into a well-practiced routine with his henchmen:



"Am I the meanest?"
"Sho'nuff!"
"Am I the prettiest?"
"Sho'nuff!"
"Am I the baddest mo'fo lowdown around this town?"
"Sho'nuff!"
"Well who am I?"
"Sho'nuff!"
"Who am I?"
"Sho'nuff!!"
"I can't hear you."
"SHO'NUFF!!!"


"The Shogun of Harlem!"

How could anyone not be intimidated by that? A kid in the audience, however, knows of someone tough enough to beat Sho'nuff. The Shogun demands to know who.


"Bruce Leroy."

You see what the writers did there? Anyway, it is explained by one of the thugs (I believe his name was "Exposition") that Leroy is the only thing standing between Sho'nuff and "total supremacy". Of what, the movie theater? It seems Leroy is also one of the many people that stand between Sho and his self esteem, because he stomps over and does his best to goad him into a fight.

Something about Leroy just pisses Sho off, possibly the way he doesn't flinch in the face of Sho's punches, or the way he eats popcorn with chopsticks. Sho scoffs at Leroy, dismissing the rumors that he can catch bullets with his teeth as just that: rumors. Leroy only aggravates the problem when he attempts to quiet Sho down with some Confucianisms. The whole thing is getting pretty sad for Sho when members of the audience start telling him to shut up.

Especially when those audience members include a heavyset man wearing a pink sports bra. And so, Sho extends an open invitation to everyone who wants him to shut up. First up is radio-stomping Asian guy.

Sho handily defeats him with a tae kwon do move called "slam his face into the ground". He then rips out a chunk of his hair and blows it out toward the audience. Man, things were really looking up for that guy, too. One minute he's the hero of the theater, and the next he's getting stomped by an overacting martial artist while being taunted by a drag queen. Sho then dispatches the two big guys from the balcony and a pair of guys who at least scream like they know kung fu (Hiya!). No Leroy, though.

He's content to let a bunch of innocent people get thrashed by Sho and his gang. The Shogun thinks him a coward, as do many people, I'm sure. He vows to one day defeat Leroy, but he gets kicked in the chest, mid-vow, by another martial arts-type person. Bad move, guy. Sho flips back up, knocks the guy down, and gives the offending foot what for.


His unorthodox methods are what make him so good.

But that's just one of the villains. Every blaxploitation film needs an evil white guy to be behind everything, and it's time to meet our token honky.

Meet sleazy, conniving record producer, Eddie Arkadian, and his ditzy girlfriend/"singer" Angela Viracco. As for her outfit, it was the 80s. These things happen. Eddie is going to make Angela a star. The only problem is that she has a high, nasally voice and can't sing for crap. Normally, lack of talent on the part of the artist is no problem for a record producer, but movies aren't always 100% real.

Also with those two is Arkadian's head stooge, Rock, who also goes by the name "Rock E." (The "E" stands for "Exposition"). We learn from a short argument between Eddie and Rock that Rock used to be a prize fighter who worked for Eddie, but since he couldn't fight for crap, he was demoted from prize fighter to exotic fish-feeder.

It could be a piranha, or just a cluster of extremely violent spa jets. It's hard to say.

Anyway, Eddie has determined that in order for his girlfriend to have any hope for success in the biz, she must have her music video featured on Laura's Hotpix, a Soul train-esque show that features dancing and music videos hand-picked by hostess Laura Charles. The white folks put their scheming on hold to watch one of the videos:

At this point, I should explain, for those of you who don't already know, that Berry Gordy was the founder of the Motown record label, and as such, he used this movie as a vehicle for his artists, in the soundtrack and more overtly with music videos. Getting back to the story, Eddie insists that Angie is top shelf, but he seems to be at least subconsciously aware that it will take quite a bit of convincing to get her stuff on the air. Rock offers to rough Laura up, but no. Eddie explains that "she may be a rock video queen but I, Eddie Arkadian, am the video game king." This doesn't really come up very often in the film, but still, my hat's off to him for excelling in a worthwhile field. He calls Laura's manager, JJ, about getting the video on the air, and JJ tries to convince Laura:

Jesus H. Christ, it's William H. Macy! What the hell is he doing in this movie? And what's with that hair? And who dressed him? I've got to wear earplugs to look at that jacket. Oh, right, 80s. Nevermind. JJ outlines the situation for Laura: play the video or there will be trouble for him. Laura is surprisingly unsympathetic, but that might be because she's about to start her big music number.

She comes down from the ceiling, dances like a spaz for a bit, and then announces a contest wherein the winner will go on a date with her before bidding adieu to her viewers. Needless to say, Eddie is miffed...

DOES VANITY DANCE LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE?
HOW MANY TIGERS PERISHED TO CLOTHE
SHO'NUFF AND ALL OF HIS ROWDY FRIENDS?
CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 TO SEE! CLICK HERE!


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