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.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.