The Last Dragon
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Celebrate thirty years of BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON, now fully remastered in high definition on Blu-ray™. Martial arts student Leroy Green (Taimak) is on a quest to obtain the elusive all-powerful force known as “The Glow.” Along the way, he must battle the evil, self-proclaimed “Shogun of Harlem” – a kung fu warrior also known as Sho’nuff (Julius J. Carry III) – and rescue a beautiful singer (Prince protégée Vanity) from an obsessed record promoter. Combining pulsating music, cutting-edge dancing and the best in non-stop action, BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON is kickin’ good fun featuring an amazing Motown soundtrack, including music by Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Vanity and DeBarge performing their smash hit “Rhythm of the Night .”
Get ready for some seriously big hair. The Last Dragon--or, to call it by its full title, Berry Gordy's the Last Dragon--is a stunning example of 1980s camp cinema. One-name kung fu wonder Taimak plays Leroy Green, a.k.a. Bruce Leroy, a humble student of kung fu who has achieved the highest level of skill, but hasn't yet found his inner master. Wandering through the streets of New York in a Chinese peasant outfit, he accidentally becomes the protector of nightclub hostess/video jockey Laura Charles (played by former Prince protégé Vanity, who also costarred in the trash classic Action Jackson). She's being threatened by a height-challenged mobster who wants her to play his girlfriend's video (the girlfriend is something of a Cyndi Lauper look-alike, played by Broadway star Faith Prince). Meanwhile, a man who calls himself Sho'Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, wants to kick Leroy's ass and prove himself the baddest kung fu master in town. Add to this Leroy's smart-mouthed brother Richie (who calls Leroy "the chocolate-covered yellow peril"), a dregs-of-Motown soundtrack (DeBarge is a high point), ninja battles, pseudo-Eastern philosophical babble, and a jaw-dropping club performance by Vanity, and you have a hilarious example of why we're all so very glad the '80s are over. Featuring a bit role by William H. Macy (Fargo, Magnolia). --Bret Fetzer
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A black martial arts disciple (Taimak) seeks the enlightenment known as "the glow", but is uncertain how to advance to the next stage. His family is completely normal and his little brother thinks he's gone off the deep end. His martial arts skills are so legendary that a crazed martial arts gang run by "The Shogun of Harlem", "Sho'nuff" (Julius Carry) is obsessed with giving him a beat-down just to prove who's the baddest martial arts master around.
Then there's a gangster who is trying to make his girlfriend (Faith Prince) a star by getting her video played on TV by a celebrity (Vanity).
So yes, there's three plots going at once, and yet the movie is balanced enough that you never lose track or feel irritated by any of them. The plot points are deftly juggled so one minute you're watching the crazy hilarious music videos of the gangster's girl, the next seeing the hero fight off some thugs to save the girl he likes, and the next see the hero again trying to sneak into the lair of the last master to further his quest.
This movie COULD be a COMPLETE cheese-fest, except that Taimak plays it straight and you BELIEVE this guy believes in his principles of restraint and idealism with all his heart. Add to that Faith Prince's wonderful performance that flesh out a character that could have been empty and forgettable (you actually LIKE her), and the sweet romance and family angles that play off of the fact that everyone feels about the hero the way people would in real life (Are you for real? Did you get your wisdom from a fortune cookie? Are you nuts?).
It's also helped by a good, if not great, soundtrack, and some actual good film-making. If this film has a weakness, it's that it might be too violent and rough with language for a family film, and too light-hearted and silly for action film fans. Or maybe that's the secret of it's charm. Because for me it really hits the sweet spot of a well-rounded feel-good film. It's like the Motown/Bruce Lee version of Xanadu. Some people may groan and walk away. But I'll watch to the end with a smile on my face.
A note on the DVD: I was expecting this film to have a very poor quality transfer but was surprised to find it's actually a VERY clean transfer that appears to have been filmed in Academy Flat aspect ratio (fills your widescreen TV without stretching). I suppose you COULD buy the blu ray, but when the DVD looks this good I can' imagine why you would, especially for a film like this (a little film grain may only enhance your experience). So expect unusually good DVD quality for this cheap a release.
A movie that is very campy,dated,and cheesy yet fun and strangely
convincing,that would explain 1985's "The Last Dragon"(billed as
"Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon" when originally released).
A cheesy,overproduced Motown fantasy/musical/martial arts flick
which is loaded with signs of '80s glam and slang(watching it seventeen years later,it's a scream!).Starring are Tamiak(whatever happened to him),Vanity,William H. Macy(who later was featured in Oscar-totters "Fargo" and "Magnolia"),Faith Prince,
and the adoreable Keshia Knight Pulliam(best known as Rudy Huxtable on "The Cosby Show").
The plot is basically the same as the Bruce Lee classic that the film shares it's name with,just with VERY '80s elements such as big hair,tacky '80s clothes,shallow '80s music videos,and DeBarge(whose "Rhythm Of The Night" is featured in the film)! Notable charcters include the unforgettably campy Sho-Nuff(For the younger folks out there who haven't seen this movie-Busta Rhymes parioded him in his 1997 video for "Dangerous") and Leroy(Tamiak)'s hilariously smart-mouthed little brother Ritchie.
Want serious martial arts fare spruced with pop music? You might not get that here but if you want good,gimmicky '80s fun with
a great sense of camp,"Last Dragon" is the perfect movie!