Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “MoTown” with a minor in “The Glow”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week after watching The Last Dragon Supercult wonders whether The Glow covers, like, all of your body…like, even down there!
Released in 1985, The Last Dragon is martial arts musical produced in part by the founder of Motown Records, Berry Gordy. Yeah, that’s right…Martial Arts Musical. As in, a musical where it’s not just okay, but encouraged that you karate chop someone in the larynx! It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy if you ask me. I myself can’t help but react violently to $#!^*-y 80s musicals, so it’s only fitting that someone merged the cause and the effect into one cathartic jerry curl infused mixture!
The Last Dragon stars first time actor Taimak Guarriello, a then-19-year-old black belt who learned to act on the set. He is accompanied by Julius J. Carry III as Sho’nuff, Chris Murney as Eddie Arkadian, broadway actor and singer Faith Prince as Eddie’s girlfriend Angela Viracco, and singer/dancer/model Vanity as video jockey Laura Charles. Those are just the headliners though, The Last Dragon also features bit parts by Cosby Show Acress Keshia Knight Palliam and Ernie Reyes who you might remember as Keno from Supercult classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze, or Johnny from Supercult classic Sur Ninjas.
The soundtrack for The Last Dragon was a fusion of hip-hop and martial arts themes supervised by Berry Gordy…that is to say, it’s a hideous train wreck punctuated by cheerful trifles perfectly suited for modern grocery PA systems. While songs like Rhythm of the Night by Diane Warren reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the film’s title theme and Vanity’s song “7th Heaven” were both nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for “Worst Original Song”.
With a 6.9 on IMDB and a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes it’s clear that the film received mixed reviews from critics, however it made a decent showing at the box office grossing over $25 million from a budget of just $10 million.
The Last Dragon has a lot to apologize for, that’s for sure. But it’s also got an amazing legacy. Directed by Michael Schultz, the film is an artifact of an incredibly weird part of American film history. While 1985 is remembered for its paper white teen heroes like Marty McFly in Back to the Future, or the “Brat Pack” of the Breakfast Club, The Last Dragon lives in a parallel universe where the only white faces are those of the comically stereotypical villains. Now-adays we might see The Last Dragon’s melting pot of a cast as normal or even pandering, but in the context of the times, The Last Dragon was a subversive milestone. While other films avoided race entirely, The Last Dragon karate chops it out of the air as it flies by, tackling everything from cultural appropriation to the notion that there’s no “right” way to be black, white, or anything else for that matter. This may be why The Last Dragon almost effortlessly became a cult classic rather than just a black cult classic, in spite of its very, very clear flaws.
To say that the Taimak’s performance is wooden would be an insult to 2-by-4’s. He is snore inducing to say the least, but when the fists start flying we forget his similarity to decking and begin to genuinely enjoy the show. Thus the true Supercult in The Last Dragon is revealed: it’s never so good that it’s great, but never so bad that it’s unenjoyable.
This is our movie Supercultists… Our nun-chuck fight scenes are played out on giant disco stages before a background of whizzing colored lights and smoke machine haze. Our comic relief hostage characters pop-and-lock out of their flimsy restraints. Our punches create neon impact sparks and lighting crack sound effects. Our hero is sent on a quest to find Master Sum Dum Goy and learn the secret of “The Glow” and our villain rolls his eyes crazily and yells, “Bow Suckah! Kiss my Converse!” This is our movie. It’s cheesy and packed to the brim with nonsensical one-liners. It’s silly and stupid, yet irresistibly sincere. Love it for what it is: a true blue cult classic!
The last of his kind. The best of the best.
The Supercult Show is proud to present The Last Dragon!