The newly released, Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, which is an 80’s genre mash-up favorite of mine. I can’t tell you how many times I watched Michael Schultz’ Motown flavored martial arts movie growing up. However, I will tell you that very few films from that time period stuck with me like this one. Was it the action? The music? The awesome over-the-top villain Sho’nuff portrayed by Julius Carry? The sweet scenes between Taimak and Vanity? I would say it was all-of-the above. The Last Dragon had everything I wanted in a movie and nearly four decades later, it still rocks.
Leroy Green (Taimak) dreams of becoming a great martial artist. He has almost reached the final level of his training. However, Leroy’s master explains to him that the final level, knows as “The Last Dragon” must be found on his own. If Leroy can complete the final level, he will be able to harness the mystical energy that would allow him to physically glow. His master sends Leroy on a spiritual journey through the streets of New York to locate Master Sum Dum Goy, who might be able to teach him how to unlock the great power of “The Glow’.
Of course, Leroy’s journey is not an easy one. Sho’nuff (The Shogun of Harlem) sees Leroy as the only person standing in his way of being the true master. Each time Sho’nuff and his gang challenges Leroy, he refuses to fight. Leroy’s family even pays the price when Sho’nuff demolishes his parent’s pizza shop. Leroy’s journey becomes even more complicated when he rescues music video show host Laura Charles (Vanity), who is being abducted by goons hired by the sleezy video-arcade mogul Eddie Arkadian (Christopher Murney). He wants Laura to play his girlfriend’s music video on her show and he won’t take no for an answer. Aside from searching for Master Sum Dum Goy, Leroy must protect Laura from Arkadian, find a way to deal with Sho’nuff and reach the final level of his training. Leroy also didn’t expect to start falling in love either.
The Last Dragon is silly and there is no denying it, but it’s also so much fun with a great soundtrack. I mean, MOTOWN founder Berry Gordy produced it, so you know the music is gonna be great. The chemistry between Taimak and Vanity really works well here. This is definitely a love-letter to classic martial arts films and even though it is also a comedy, it truly respects the art form and films that inspired it.
The new 4K transfer does not disappoint. It was scanned from the original camera negative and presented with Dolby Vision. The streets of Harlem look incredibly detailed, especially during the daytime shots. Eddie’s office is filled with neon colors that absolutely pop, as-well-as the set of Laura’s video show. Don’t even get me started on how awesome the red and yellow glows look during Leroy’s final fight with Sho’nuff. As for the audio, we get an all-new Dolby Atmos track which is taken full advantage of, especially during the numerous fight sequences. As mentioned before, The Last Dragon has a stellar 80’s soundtrack and the new audio track puts a shine on that. If you are a fan, I highly recommend picking up this release, which also comes packed in a great looking steelbook. Three out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️