Crazy ’80s Martial Arts Fantasy Comedy Needs Streaming Home And Help From Fans

By Douglas Helm | Published

The Last Dragon is a great genre mash-up film of martial arts, comedy, and fantasy that deserves to be seen by way more people. Unfortunately, the 1985 cult classic isn’t available to stream anywhere. It’s time for fans of the film to start demanding one of the millions of streaming services give The Last Dragon a place to call home.

A Very 80s Martial Arts Movie

The Last Dragon follows the young aspiring martial arts artist Leroy Green (Taimak), who wants to achieve the same level of martial arts mastery as the legendary Bruce Lee. One night in his home city of New York, Leroy saves TV personality Laura Charles (Vanity) from the business tycoon Eddie Arkadian (Chris Murney). This leads to Leroy entering the crosshairs of the gang leader Sho’nuff, aka the Shogun of Harlem (Julius J Carry III). 

A Financial Success

The Last Dragon was written by Louis Venosta, directed by Michael Schultz, and produced by Rupert Hitzig for Berry Gordy. Along with Taimak, Vanity, Chris Murney, and Julius Carry, the film also stars Keshia Knight Pulliam and Faith Prince, with choreography by Lester Wilson and Lawrence Leritz. Although the film received a mixed reception upon its release, it was financially successful and has since become a cult classic for martial arts fans.

A Lost Classic Of The 80s

Even the story of how The Last Dragon was made is the kind of scrappy Hollywood underdog tale that cult classics are made of. The film was based on a screenplay by Louis Venosta, who was a struggling actor in New York who was “tired of being cast a Gang Member #3” in every film. It was also the first acting role for the 19-year-old black belt Tamaik, who learned to act on set. Amazingly, Taimak won the role of Leroy Green over stars like Wesley Snipes, Mario Van Peebles, Laurence Fishburne, and Denzel Washington, who were all considered at one point during the production process.

Martial Artist First, Actor Second

Many of the actors performed their own stunts, including Carry, who learned martial arts to play the role of Sho’Nuff. The Last Dragon also went out of its way to shoot at cool martial arts locations in New York, such as the Harlem Karate Institute of Grandmaster Ernest Hyman in Harlem. The authenticity and the heart that went into the film show in the final product, and it’s a super stylish film for anyone who loves kung fu cinema. The film even managed to bring home $33 million against a budget of $10 million at the box office.

Needs To Be Saved For Future Generations

In short, if you’re looking for an underrated martial arts film to add to your watch queue, The Last Dragon is definitely a good recommendation. As mentioned, though, there currently isn’t an easy way to check out the film if you like to watch your movies on streaming services. Of course, you can always rent the film or buy it outright, but that’s not quite as convenient.

Maybe The Last Dragon will end up on a streaming service soon. If not, make sure to try and find it somewhere to purchase. It’s well worth the watch.