Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Canon Movie Review: The Last Dragon

Recently, due to the amount of views this blog has gotten, I made my first cent from The Canon Review. That is one more cent than I expected to make from this enterprise, so I would like to thank all of you that are reading the wackiness that is The Canon Review. But I won't stop due to a piddly financial gain, oh no dear reader, because The Canon Review is a labor of love, and sometimes pain, and sometimes confusion, but mainly love.  So don't worry, because we have plenty of things to review and topics to contemplate on and plenty of time to do so.

Today at The Canon Review, I have decided to watch the 1985 classic, The Last Dragon. Produced by Motown kingpin Berry Gordy, the film stars black belt Taniak as the lead character, "Bruce" Leeroy Green. The movie also stars Vanity as Leeroy's love interest, a music video host named Laura Charles, and Julius Carry as Leeroy's nemesis, Sho'Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. The rest of the cast is filled with character actors and people you've probably never heard of, except for William H. Macy and Chazz Palminteri, who make very brief appearances in the film. A few notes on this movie:

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

- The lead character's a big dork. Yes, he's super bad-ass and all with his knowledge of martial arts, but the guy's so into asian culture that he walks around Harlem in a Kung Lao style hat and a robe. When the guy goes to the movies (in this case a Bruce Lee movie), he actually eats his popcorn with chopsticks. His own younger brother stays away from him, preferring to dance to crappy music and stalk Laura Charles. Then again, Leeroy's brother is the most annoying character in the movie. Just a wannabe playa at 13 who dances poorly and hangs around with a kid that looked a lot like the Chunk from the Goonies. I was glad when that kid got dunked into a bowl of pasta by Sho'Nuff.

- Besides Sho'Nuff, the other nemesis is a man by the name of Eddie Arcadian, the master of arcades or something who's trying to break into the music business using his girlfriend. He also has a sidekick called Rocky, who keeps some sort of shark around which we never get to see. Arcadian is your basic greedy scumbag, but at least he's generous enough to pay the background dancers in his music videos in quarters so they can enjoy themselves at the arcade.

- The most hilarious scene in the movie happens at the movie theater. A bunch of people, including Leeroy with his popcorn and chopsticks, are watching a Bruce Lee flick. A few people in the back decide they've had enough, turn on their boombox full blast and start breakdancing right in the middle of the aisle. Well, the crowd doesn't like this, and one man decides to take action, matching the on-screen actions of Bruce Lee by jumping high in the air and delivering a double foot stomp on the boombox, splintering it into a thousand pieces much to the delight of the crowd. Then, Sho'Nuff and his ridiculous looking crew stop the movie, and enter the theater. Here is their entrance:

- Since this is a Motown movie, music plays a big role. After all, Vanity's character is a music video host. The most obvious use of the Motown music is playing the entire video of DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night". I guess it made sense at the time, but it added nothing to the movie and in hindsight looks kind of silly. They didn't even get DeBarge to perform, they just showed the already made music video as is.

- This movie would be 30 times worse without the presence of Carry as Sho'Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. Even if his lines aren't particularly well written. The guy is just so over the top in everything he does that you can't help but get sucked in, or at least I couldn't. Whether it's fighting a guy while wearing shoulder pads, beating up movie goers, including biting someone's feet while they were down on the ground, or destroying Leeroy's family's pizza place. Sho'Nuff is the most impactful character this movie has to offer. For a villian with a large posse, Sho'Nuff is honorable in a way, fighting his own battles and turning down any money Arcadian offered him to get at Leeroy just because Sho'Nuff wanted to "designate Leeroy's ass for dismemberment" For some reason, Sho'Nuff believes that if he can beat Leeroy, he will run Harlem, even though it seems as if he already runs Harlem since he stops movies being played so he can make a grand entrance, but I digress.

- Interesting note, at least to me. Taimak, who played the lead character, was trained by Ron Van Cleef, who a few years later would fight Royce Gracie at a UFC event.

- Overall, this was not a movie that would ever contend for an Oscar. However, it is a fun little martial arts movie, with plenty of action. With the exception of Leeroy and Sho'Nuff, the characters are rather one-dimensional, and some of the effects are a little ridicoulous, especially during the final fight scene. But overall, the movie goes along smoothly, with no real errors in production and a plot which may be simple, but at least it is sensible. Overall, I'd give this movie a 6.59252 out of 10.

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