For this live-review, we’re going to blast into the past and go to Malaika’s second-ever film, and one I’ve never seen (I had to miss this one for some reason) – The Last Dragon, directed by Michael Schultz.
Before the film, Malaika brought us a short called Manifestoon. This is just about exactly what it sounds like – an eight-minute selection of readings from the Communist Manifesto set to cartoon clips. Umm, if you dare, here it is:
The material doesn’t exactly make the most exciting script, and the Soma-addled drone of the narrator does nothing to spice it up. In fact, for a recruiting film, it’s…well, not good. It practically cracks an egg onto a hot laptop and says “This is your brain on Communism”. But I’m no Communist, so the ineptitude doesn’t really hurt my feelings.
On to the film! (I have no idea what to expect!)
OK, well the first thing that I’m going to expect is that I’m not going to see the end of the movie. It’s listed at 109 minutes but my DVR only recorded 90 minutes.
Apparently this is a martial arts film. The whole thing starts out with a credits montage where martial artist Leroy Green knocks arrows out of the air while punching dummies, then catches one. This is apparently the equivalent of catching a fly with chopsticks, because his master dumps him, telling him to seek a new master who will “take him to the final level” (what is this, a video game?) and teach him to get “The Glow”. Why not just eat some Hi-Pro dog food?
Uh-oh. They’re screening Enter The Dragon at a theater, which breaks MST3K’s Overdrawn At The Memory Bank tenet “Never show a good movie inside your crappy movie”.
You know what? I DID see this. I can’t help but recognize Geordi LaForge sunglasses-wearing enemy Sho ‘Nuff. Sho ‘Nuff starts mouthing off to Leroy (who has no interest in fighting) and then starts trashing bozos throughout the theater as Leroy just walks out.
Oh really? There are commercials, too? I’m only going to see half this movie. This is already looking like a blessing. And El DeBarge is already padding the film.
Holy crap! Baby William H. Macy as some sort of production assistant! And more singing and dancing – this time from Laura Charles, rising pop star played by Vanity (you’d almost think IMDB got the credits flipped, except they didn’t). Literally nothing has happened in the last 7 minutes of this film. Ah, the ’80s!
Finally Laura gets abducted by a replacement limo driver (for some reason a bald bad guy wants her, some sort of indentured servitude for a record label?), but Leroy is magically there to kung fu her out of it, and they share a meaningful glance before he hails her a taxi, leaving behind some golden token.
Sho ‘Nuff once again confronts Leroy, this time at Leroy’s dojo while he’s teaching a class, but again Leroy does not rise to the bait. Also, the guy who plays Leroy is a really terrible actor – delivers his lines as wooden as possible. I’m half convinced he didn’t even speak English and he learned his lines phonetically. (Nope, he’s an American named Taimak – the second case of the actor/character names totally getting swapped here.)
Oh geez, Leroy randomly sees Laura get abducted AGAIN? The abductor takes Laura to his weird dressing-room-boudoir-lair and forces her to watch a fake Cyndi Lauper video, which he wants her to put on her TV show. Leroy comes in and kicks some ass, rescuing her. So she brings him back to her apartment and gives him…the golden belt buckle. Meanwhile, Sho ‘Nuff goes to Leroy’s dad’s pizza plabe and busts it up. He’s really got an attitude problem. Eventually I predict that Leroy is going to find a master to teach him The Glow, kick Sho ‘Nuff’s ass, and save the girl. And I don’t think that’s going to happen in the next 11 minutes. The girl isn’t even in trouble yet. Especially when six of those minutes are commercial break. Aaaaaaand “delete recording”.
OK, well I checked Wikipedia and that’s pretty much what happened, except that Leroy finds (during the final fight, no less) that HE HIMSELF is the master and he instantaneously achieves The Glow and beats Sho ‘Nuff in a shower of Tron-level animated sparks. Yeah, the end.
I really can’t say many nice things about this movie. The plot is alternating parts ridiculous (Leroy is always there when Laura gets abducted) and predictable (big fight at the end, save the girl, you’ll find your power within yourself). The acting typically ranges between really bad and horrendous. There are a couple of cheesy lines. But while in the recent review of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter I complained about the trend for movies to be deliberately bad…but seeing this one I’m not sure it’s less defensible than unintentionally bad films. This movie has little merit – maybe it was a decent popcorn film in 1985, but now it just falls flat.