Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Last Dragon

OMG what a movie for the time capsule. Videos were all the rage and suddenly we were all living in a big hair, boom box and day glo world of bad androgeny and Jerri Curl. So combine street culture, 80s dance music, kung fu, the ghetto and Barry Gordy's attempt to ride this breakdancing craze all the way to the top and you have a film to offend nearly everyone, most notably fans of good movies. Gordy is the same powerhouse music producer of Motown Records fame that mentored Michael Jackson and produced the seminal 80s album, 'Thriller'. You can catch many Michael wannabees like Debage whose ONE hit, 'Rhythm of the Night' gets a spotlight. Seems like everyone in the 80s was THIS close to breaking out and making it big. When you see a fat guy wearing a halter top unapologetic you know everyone attached to the project saw themselves riding this cheese to the stars. In truth, the culture of that time chewed up and spit out the new like no other time before it. Superficiality was the buzzword in the 80s. I could get all philosophical and say that it was that time and attitude that is directly responsible for the cult of personality we have today where people are famous (Paris Hilton) for doing nothing or less than nothing. 25 years ago you had to have at least ONE talent to be noticed. In something like this it really doesn't matter who starred in it. All are basically unknowns and only William H. Macy (YEH, I KNOW..THAT William H. Macey) was able to wash the stink of this off themselves and go on to have a pretty respectable career. I suspect in his case it took a year's worth of tomato juice showers to wash away the shame. Tiamak and Vanity, two stars so great they only needed ONE name, are our love interests and both have that 'deer caught in the headlights look' - yeh that same face I am making watching this crap. I was moderately offended by comparisons this film makes between this lightweight and the great Bruce Lee. Having Taimak wear the same yellow jumpsuit Bruce wore in 'Game of Death' is a slap in the face. They attempt to give Taimak, (a black kid) a personality by making him the kung fu master who doesn't want to fight and is SO oriental that he eats popcorn with chopsticks and spouts incomprehensible nuggets of wisdom perfect for every situation. Ugh. Of course, not wanting to fight means he will eventually HAVE to fight and boy have they created a winner to challenge him. Julius Carry is Sho'nuff the 'Shogun of Harlem' who asks his minions questions that can only be answered using his name. "Am I the baddest?" "Sho'nuff!" "Who is the master?" "Sho'nuff" - Double Ugh! Fortunately Carry plays him so over the top that he gets a pass from me. (That pass may have more to do with the job he did in later years by playing an excellent part as 'Lord Bowler' in the criminally ignored 'Adventures of Brisco Country Jr.' with fan favorite Bruce Campbell). He and his crew dress in the worse combination of urban military wear combined with Kabuki theatre costumes that one has ever seen. Just to change things up they occasionally accesorize with football shoulder pads worn OVER the shirt. Why that look never caught on is beyond my level of understanding. They don't really seem that menacing. They only make me want to mock them further and stuff some candy in their Halloween pumpkin baskets. Sho'nuff. I think that if you are casting people to play Kung Fu thugs that you would choose people who actually KNOW Kung Fu or give them a bit of training before the camera's roll. But this movie is not an instructional video. Its a cheese covered romantic comedy/kung fu revenge fantasy/mystical adventure. If I can say one nice thing it seems that Gordy has made sure to cast lots of minorities in supporting roles (is that RUDY HUXTABLE from the Cosby Show playing Taimak's little sister?). All the bad guys are white of course because we all know how the 'MAN' works to keep a brother down, especially an oriental playing black brother. Its Gordy's version of affirmative action. Judge its success on the fact that Motown didn't become a major movie studio. Nuff said? Sho'nuff. OMG did an oriental character just say "Saki to me with your bad self"? Sorry, I'm not going back to find out. I heard what I heard now I am moving on. Its so weird to me that I missed this movie in my pop culture education and it needed to be seen if only to take me back to a time I so clearly remember.


wiec? said...

so you didn't like it?

i remember seeing this when i was 13 on cable and being like "get the F outta here. is this a comedy? no? well it's funny anyway." a fake Mr.Miyogi shoots arrows at his student so the student can break them in 1/2. the arrows miss him by like 2 inches. andthat baloney happens in like the 1st 3 minutes.

it's horrible agreed. However i like it because it is so horrible. it's like all involved decided to make a movie that redefines cheesey and to me that earns them all a pat on the back.

and yep that Rudy from the Cosby show.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

They had no idea how bad it was at the time they made it. I believe that they sincerely played it straight. It couldn't have become the time capsule for all that was crappy about the eighties otherwise. It was very fun to watch and remember a time when all the stuff on the screen was concidered hip and cool. In the 'so bad its good' catagory.

wiec? said...

agreed. it was definitely bad. the bad meaning bad and not the bad meaning good.

'so bad it's good' is indeed the catagory it belongs in. nice call.

Wings1295 said...

Remember this one being on cable A LOT, back in the day.

And Vanity - wow. She was also in an episode of "Friday the 13th: The Series". Supposedly, she is not very happy with the stuff she did in those years, as she is born again now or something. But hey, why ignore your past lady? You took part in some wacky stuff!!! hahahahaha