You Sure Look Like a Master to Me

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It's come to my attention that there are a few folks who didn't get my reference last week to Bruce Leroy and The Glow. Fair enough. I'll take any excuse to reminisce. The Last Dragon is a kind of charter epic poem for 80s black nerdom. I can't do the whole thing justice, but suffice to say the hero, Harlemite and master martial artist Bruce Leroy, is on a voyage of self-discovery.


I'm sure the Last Dragon isn't a "great movie," but I love it because it sort of smirks at The Karate Kid's showy earnestness. For the record, I love The Karate Kid. But Bruce Leroy is all about home. And of course the villainous Sho'nuff--"See it's mumbo-jumbo like that, and skinny little lizards like you thinking they the Last Dragon that gives a bad name," or  "Catchin' bullets with his teeth? Catchin bullets with his teeth?? Nigger, please!" Just what we all wanted--to hear someone exclaim "nigger, please" in a karate flick. Oh and Vanity. My Lord, Vanity...

It's ill watching this now. I always thought of this as a black movie, and it certainly is. But the multiracialism of it is so New York.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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