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FUCKING DAY

Fucking Day: City Dragon

Gather near and hear of The Ultimate Man, who fought like he made love: all day, with everyone, and feet first. A man who chose war with the world, because he could never hope to defeat himself. This is the legend of The City Dragon, and if it’s not a lost Shakespearean work, why is it in rhyming couplets, art-nerds?

The year was 1995, and Stan Derain’s dragon heart burned with a story that could only be told by combining bitchin’ combat with terrible song. His screenwriter, muse, and star? His own alter ego: MC Kung Fu. 

You read that right. Welcome to Planet Hotdog, motherfuckers.

Ray is a physical Da Vinci whose mixed media are pleasure and pain. His dream is to bridge The Martial/Venusial Ass Crack, in which the more ass you kick, the less ass you have time to crush. If he could turkeyslap a man back into his mother’s uterus, Ray’s work on earth would be complete. This is his world, and these are his Home Dogs:

Ray’s life is perfect. He has a Corvette, a barbell in his living room, three girlfriends, no job, and fingerless gloves he never doffs. He talks almost exclusively in rap, and to be clear: this character has no aspirations of a rap career. Rhyme and roundhouses are his natural state. He only leaves the bedroom to find ice cream or flee emotional attachment, although some say the gangsters whose jaws remain intact call him fight-father.

He falls in love with Tina at first rejection—perhaps ever in his life. When he gives her a pelvis-forward self-defense lesson, she sees the poetry of his violence and leaves John for Ray’s mighty melon-tits. She’s cool with him being a foot guy: 

Somewhere in here is a highly coincidental B-plot about Rick pretending to be a talent agent so Cheri—look, it’s irrelevant, Rick is only sleeping with women so the Jabroni Guild will consider his internship application.

John stalks them and picks a fight. But before Ray can make sweet violence to John’s face, Phil gets stabbed and basically leaves the movie. (He’s fine. Ray visits his hospital bed dressed like he’s dating Ferris Bueller.)

Infuriated by a foe unpunched, Ray goes home and starts rage-chucking. Tina touches the Dragon in the beautiful wrath of his personal Footloose, like a fool might.

Ray puts aside the City Dragon life and does his doggin’ only for Tina now. He challenges a new foe that cannot be kicked to death: emotional responsibility.

But! Tina’s dad kicks her out of the house for having gotten pregnant by John, a punchy man for whom not crying equals consent. 

Thus is Ray’s doom written. He proposes to his weeping girlfriend and by this covenant sinks into drab reality. He takes a job synergizing spreadsheets to proactive paradigms, and the seas themselves turn red. 

Someone calls John at work to tell him Tina got engaged. It goes badly for his colleagues made of eggshells, and he crushes their skulls. Off to Crazy Prison for you, my goodly lad!

Taking advantage of this self-shackled sex dragon, Ms. Jones threatens Tina’s fetus if Ray does not donate to his boss’s orgasm fund. The honorable Ray submits to her to protect his income. Somewhere, a street thug feels the echo of a mule-kick.

Depression poisons Ray’s heart, and he loses all interest in sucking Tina’s toes. Fuckin’ Rick congratulates Ray on being sexually coerced to keep his pregnant wife off the street. 

Tina discovers the affair and leaves! It is sad? Ray’s in trouble for five minutes but Rick, of all idiots, has the idea to broadcast a love song to Tina on Phil’s radio show. By pure chance she hears the seductive “Chemistry,” and it breaks her heart and water. Her womb immediately evacuates the baby to make space for Ray’s superior seed.

By another coincidence, John is at the hospital murdering his doctor, who’s such a devout asshole you cheer for the spree killer. Sneaking out in disguise, John bumps into Tina and kidnaps their kid. But Original Ray-cipe shows up, having smelled a newly pregnable vagina from across town. John leads him on a merrily racist chase to the roof, and…look, you know how this ends. Let’s dig into why it’s so weird. 

City Dragon only looks like an action movie. This is a side-scroller game whose immune system can’t fight off a Noah Baumbach retrovirus of micro-scale personal drama no matter how many times MC Kung Fu strips his shirt off.

When we first meet Ray, he’s tossing your gun away to show you how a craftsman ruins lives. But smashing noses is just his occupation. His calling is smashing genitals.

That’s almost exactly how we meet the Capulets in Romeo & Juliet. No notes.  

His buddy Rick introduces himself as an honorary Black man by slurring Black people: a clever script choice to show this dweeb has lived his whole life without consequence under Ray’s protective lats. I know what you’re thinking, but keep that outrage on simmer; you don’t want to reach full boil before the only (mincing) queer character gets drowned in a slop sink.

For this next part—look, a certain amount of flirtation we’d consider cheesy was cringeless to the people of the ’90s. None of that excuses when Ray sings the “I’m Going to Have Sex” song.

“We loves the look of lingerie” he croons to her, like the Gollum of smegma. 

He writes her a song telling her he was great in bed and love is a lie. And also she owns a portrait of a vampire? 

The immediate next scene shows Ray creeping a parking lot, sneaking up behind a busty blonde. 

He’s been carrying a rose in his pocket the entire weekend and it unlocks sex for him! If that’s not video game rules, then Porsche product-placed this film as a cautionary PSA that Corvette drivers hang outside gyms to sniff the women’s locker vents. If you replaced CJ in GTA: San Andreas with Leisure Suit Larry, Ray would be the ANSI laxative in your hot coffee. 

Now it’s a full-fledged music video! MC Sex Pest’s life is so sweeeeeeeet!

Further proof we’re in a Double Dragon installment: when John confronts the Dogs, ten of his friends appear from nowhere. Ray takes their street weapons and turns them against his assailants, but forgets that the switchblade is the real get here. 

This is the crossing point. When Phil, co-creator of this universe, is sliced, a tear opens in his share of reality. An opportunistic emotional drama pours into the Phil’s spleen-shaped hole. Goodbye, City Dragon. You’re watching Dragons of the Heart now.

Rick’s plan to trick women into sex leads to a manly clinch on Ray’s floor. This whole film is people entering Ray’s apartment without knocking, so Tina walks in on it. Lame ’90s throwaway homophobia humor, or the first symbol of indie examination of masculinity and mistrust? 

I say the latter and here’s why: when John slaughters his coworkers with light shoving, pay special attention to two characters.

Queen Mary: Theater’s laziest straight man coos about hot hunks, then dies in a pool of scummy grey water. He’s a repellent gay stereotype, but maybe also an artifact of the first half’s poisonously masculine misconceptions? Either way, Mary cannot exist in this new reality and is symbolically destroyed. In his last breath, he stops murmuring about chafing cucumbers and whispers, “You’re in touch with your anger, and that’s good. I respect that. Glub.”

Almost-Dirty Harry: a fake cop on the edge who never gets to take a shot arrives too late to save anyone. This is Baumbach-19’s doing: action heroes are being watered down in real-time. 

A British (for gravitas) judge sentences John to mental care in a scene that definitely does not take place only in his fracturing mind. Oh lord, and the character has the same name as the actor; the infection is mutating into a Charlie Kaufman variant!

Next, consider that Kathy Barbour is a talented actress hiding in this dumb action tale like an undercover agent. Watch her pretend to enjoy Ray’s “special surprise gift” of a terrible rap. 

If an elderly white person dropped those bars in an Adam Sandler film, it would be an insensitive mockery of an elderly white person having David Spade in a stroke film. But Tina sells her joy till you fall in love with her. And I’ve seen chemistry this forced before; I survived the bookstore scene in Dan in Real Life

City Dragon’s natural defenses produce antibodies like that stretch of Inception that shouldn’t have been boring. While buying Tina ice cream, Ray’s accosted by an eclectic street gang of Uncle Randys. Some are definitely cosplaying as Chicano. 

One mullet-cowled mook in a Baja sweater handles nunchucks like he’s heartbroken they’re not salami. Based on their bloated faces, flair for pageantry, and complete misunderstanding of Cholo diction, you’d assume they were Packers fans who got lost in LA after sabotaging the Rams’ moving van—except they hate dairy products.

The game’s next defense is to force a neutral video format where indie dramas can’t survive. The script turns Ray’s office into a mandatory sexual harassment training video. Alas! The Kaufman variant is overwriting City Dragon’s DNA; John’s mental struggles take point as the Dragons’ marriage disintegrates. 

As fever grips the game, violence follows Ray like he owes it money. In fact, one NPC claims he does! Would you sacrifice your teeth to a swole bro like MC Kung Fu over a dollar? Only if the universe wanted to prove violence is the answer.

And holy shit, this guy whales on our hero in the movie’s sweetest fight! Ray, punch your way out of this navel-gazing, mirthless dramedy meant for people who became parents late in life! 

The infection lobs a gruff doctor, but the game filters him into a mission-authority exposition type advocating extreme prejudice. This is the street vigilante film the liberals want! 

What about sex appeal? Rick offers sacrificial virgin Jalapena Helen to the god of warriors. It’s too late! Depression is Ray’s only lover now. The poor bastard’s trapped in a series of mild observations of human nature that win awards from film’s driest critics.

Then John’s brother Jack tows his pudgy bar-darts league to Ray’s third dojo. Now even the fights have decayed into dull family arguments. No wonder everyone in this gang is your Uncle Randy.

Ha ha ha ha, take a gander at these wundertools. Every one of them looks like their special attack is to spill mustard on their clothes. Jack almost definitely united this posse by telling them Ray said their choice of telephoto lens was woefully unprepared to take pictures of underage girls at the beach. They’re an All-Star team of dudes released from To Catch a Predator as “too inept to consider dangerous.”

And I know we’re supposed to hate John, but he must do amazing work in his community to inspire this level of devotion. Two dozen men would die for his honor while your best friend doesn’t even know your birthday. 

Ray kicks Jack’s ass so hard he inadvertently kills the Skidz pants trend. He dedicates his victory to Bruce Lee’s honor. “You’re still the king of kung fu!” he tells the air. Silence answers. This IP is Langoliers country.

Now, a cuckoo in the nest: “Chemistry” is not an MC Kung Fu song?! Phil and some choad named Valentino, who knows very little kung fu, are the credited artists. Our protagonist gets aurally cuckolded, and a pregnant woman cries. Ugh, people are already talking Oscar nom. 

By the end, this movie has become a boring custody battle in a bitter divorce. The game puts all its effort into one last chance…John lays the baby down, surrendering his villainous advantage. The only reason to fight now is for blood itself. Ray knows what he must do: but can he? Does he dare “accidentally” step on that baby? Can he summon the dragon to mule-kick it out of his narrative and restore arcade combat?

No, he falters on the backswing. The film pretends this is a happy ending, but look at how awkward that kiss is. City Dragon damns Ray by his own heel.

This is a tragedy of a man who cannot strike mercilessly, as a dragon must, to reclaim his destiny. Trapped by responsibility, he will rhyme no more. The final boss must go unfought.

The message is clear: society is a lie that turns dogs into cogs. Don’t get married, warriors. Don’t take a job. You will suffocate all your days, or until Philthy completes City Dragon 2

And to Peacock Films, I say: fans deserved better than the Baumbach edit. #ReleaseThePhilthyCut you cowards! I triple-home dog dare you. 

Brendan wholeheartedly supports this film’s argument that Bruce Lee is the greatest.

One reply on “Fucking Day: City Dragon”

The whole “Bad Dudes clone infected with a rom-com retrovirus” angle was brilliant!

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