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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Reveiw-Karate kicks, urban culture makes for a joyous romp

michael Foster-sanders
editor in chief

Photo courtesy TriStar Films
Sho’nuff, played by Julius Carry, is the shougun of Harlem whose sole mission is to defeat kung fu master Bruce Leeroy.

Kung Fu, comedy, beautiful girl, funky music and a badass hero and villain, this is not the wimpy Karate Kid we’re talking about.This is the action-packed 1985’s cult classic film Motown film The Last Dragon. 

Motown Owner Berry Gordy decided to try his hand in movie production again after the abysmal “The Wiz” which was a flop with its urban take on The Wizard of OZ. Now in this day and age genre mashups are not anything new, but back in the 1980’s it was unheard of, and that is what makes the movie work on a cheesy, and loveable level. 

Martial Artist Taimak plays the naive budding passive kung fu master who has completed the final level of his training, and is sent off into the world to find his, and the mystical glow.  

Due to studying kung fu he’s not as hip or street smart as the average Harlem teenager is supposed to be, and becomes the butt of his little brother Richie jokes. In the path of Leroy kung-fu master ambitions is the self proclaimed Shogun of Harlem, the charismatic villain Sho’Nuff played by the late Julius Carry.         

Sho’Nuff and his gang decide to check out Bruce Lee’s magnum opus karate Enter the Dragon, and cross paths with Leroy after a long monologue of how he can’t be beat. Audience members decide to shut Sho’Nuff up, and challenge him to a Battle Royale. Sho’nuff decimates his challengers and spots Leroy sneaking out the theater throwing down the gauntlet and declares war against Leroy and everything he loves setting the tone for the rest of the movie.

The reason why The Last Dragon works is because it has the formula of an actual kung fu movie with the lone warrior driven to finally having to face his destiny and fight due to revenge by the villain destroying something that the hero loves and kidnapping his love interest.

The music, and atmosphere of mid-eighties New York City grime is also the star of this movie. The Motown sound and stars of yesteryear oozes of eighties cheese. The love interest of Leroy, Laura Charles played by the late singer actress Vanity has the catchy pop theme song “7th Heaven”, while the family singing group Debarge has the feel good song “Rhythm of the Night.” 

Actors can make or break a movie, and every actor was picked correctly for their role. Taimak being a real life martial artist and starring as Bruce Leroy brings a robotic feel to his character that’s not familiar with the ways of the world. The fact that this is Taimak’s first film the lack of acting works in his favor because when he does his fighting scenes it’s like a transformation in front of the viewer’s eyes.          Catch this classic film on the free streaming app Pluto, or see in select theaters with the limited re-release.  

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