Tread Perilously takes a one-week break from theme months to look at Manimal‘s penultimate episode, “Breath of the Dragon.”
When Manimal attempts to surprise Black Partner with a birthday party in Chinatown, he soon discovers a small-time protection racket terrorizing the community. The kingpin? A self-styled “Dragon” who takes in young men, teaches them some sort of martial art, and forces them to sleep in the training room. But will his zeal to torch a restaurant owned by the grandfather of his newest student prove to be his undoing?
Erik and Justin confront Manimal‘s accidental racism and laud Big Trouble in Little China for not making similar mistakes. Justin considers the racist origins of pulp. Erik declares himself the Latinx Kwisatz Haderach and points out why the Los Angeles Chinatown cannot play the New York Chinatown. The pair praise actor James Hong, who does a lot with a thin character. They also discuss the Ninja Empire and Hong Kong filmmaker Godfrey Ho. Erik invokes El Zorro, which leads to a discussion of why the character lacks staying power. The Dragon’s low-rent casino leads to an exploration of his very sad attempt at a criminal empire, even as actor George Cheung brings a swagger to the role. Justin casts a Manimal for the 21st Century and Erik details how Manimal is a more ethical hero than the Batman.