The Film: Berry Gordy’s the Last Dragon

The Guests: Monica & Elbee


For me, some movies seem to always have been there – on a shelf, or on some odd channel waiting to be stumbled upon once more. One such movie is Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. I can’t say exactly when I saw the film, but it was sometime in the late 80s before 1990, and most likely broadcast by some local channel on a weekend afternoon. It quickly became a favorite, as I was a little hip-hop karate kid! I studied karate, and could poplock and moonwalk like the K.O.P. himself! (Or so i thought.) This movie appealed to all of these interests, and with its colorful cast of characters, it was totally something that resonated with me.


Our hero is a naive martial artist who has outstayed his welcome at his master’s dojo (his master is in dire need of a vacation). So he is sent on a silly quest to find the TRUE master so he can learn to attain ‘the glow’ (whatever that is). Along the way, he must contend with a street gang lead by rival martial artist “Sho-Nuff! the Shogun of Harlem,” and run afoul of Eddie Arcadian, a low level “crime boss” who kidnaps a TV dance show host named Laura Charles (Vanity).


The film plays as a silly chop-socky farce, but upon closer inspection, a somewhat clever satire is revealed. It’s a commentary on inner-city life, corrupt business practices, cultural appropriation, and the rhythm of the night.


As a kid, I responded only to the surface merits of the film. My guests on this episode didn’t see this film until later, when they were adults. In fact, Monica had never never seen the film until Elbee (VPL) suggested we do so, because of the film’s outlandish nature and strange presentation. They bring more knowing adult understanding to this zany epic. Hear their insight on the film, as well as my own silly and possibly epic karate anecdote from early teen years.



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