B-Movies of our Youth: The Last Dragon (1985)
Movie Name: The Last Dragon (aka Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon)
Director: Michael Schultz
Producer: Rupert Hitzig, Berry Gordy, and Joseph Caracciolo
Written: Louis Venosta
Starring: Taimak, Julius J. Carry III, Chris Murney, Leo O'Brien, Faith Prince, Glen Eaton, and Vanity
Release Date: March 22nd, 1985
Box Office: $25.7 Million
Budget: $10 Million
This movie is part of the Breakin' and Beatstreet group for me. I grew up watching this movie over and over again as we had it on VHS tape. My brother introduced me to it and although cheesy, I do not mind it. It has not aged all too well but it is still a movie that I like to go back to periodically. You can actually see this movie on Netflix in the US and also sometimes on YouTube. Let us see what this movie is about.
The movie is about a black kid from harlem called Bruce Leroy (played by Taimak). He loves Martial arts and in fact his favourite martial artist is Bruce Lee. His family, especially his brother make fun of him as he is very heavily in the martial arts stuff and they do not know what use it is to do have those skills, if he never uses it.
You see Taimak in a Dojo sequence with his master played by Thomas Ikeda. He advises to Taimak that when you reach the final stages of martial arts, you can obtain a special glow. It is called "The Glow" and it is only reached once you are convinced that you are a Master. It is also called The Last Dragon. However, his master gives him a medal that he says was Bruce Lee's and that a special master called Master Sum Dum Goy, will show him the way of "The Glow". Later on in the movie, Bruce Leroy realizes that his master has tricked him as the master that he was speaking of, is nothing but a fortune cookie making machine. Bruce Leroy is disappointed and goes back to his master. His master advises essentially that he was a dumbass and that the answer is within him.
Meanwhile, there is a martial artist called Sho'nuff (Julius J. Carry III). He thinks that he is the best martial artist in Harlem. In fact, he also goes by the name of the Shogun of Harlem. He first meets Bruce in a movie theatre and confronts him while Bruce was watching Bruce Lee movie. However, Bruce pisses off Sho'nuff by not fighting him.
Later on, due to his non confrontational ways, Sho'nuff destroys Bruce Leroy's father's restaurant, threatening that there will be consequences if he does not fight him.
The next arc in this story is that you have this woman called Vanity, who has a very popular TV show with music and breakdancing. Bruce's brother really wants to get on the show and in fact would love to date Vanity as she is quite beautiful. One night as Vanity was walking and Bruce Leroy defends her. She thinks of him as pretty nice but obviously Bruce Leroy is uncomfortable. Bruce's brother does not understand what she sees in him and will prove that he cam woo her as well.
The piece that makes it all come together is this this Video Arcade mogul called Eddie Arkadian. He is the type of guy that would do anything to make a quick buck. He wants his girlfriend Angela Viracco's (Faith Prince) to be featured on Vanity's show. She is not too great but Arkadian thinks that by her being on the show, he can make a ton of money. So his plan is to kidnap Vanity to convience her of this. So obviously, Bruce Leroy goes after her to save her, but he must face Sho'nuff in a fight. While they are fighting Bruce Leroy finds the "The Glow" as he convinces himself that he is a master and proceeds to defeat Sho'nuff.
That is the main gist of the story. I left a few things out but you get a pretty good idea of the story from the above.
Fans of the movie love the soundtrack. It is a middle of the pack soundtrack. it does not compete with other soundtracks of the time like Purple Rain and even Breakin'. However the album was produced by Berry Gordy.
The soundtrack featured a song by Debarge called Rhythm of the Night . Although the title song was voted the Worse Original Song at the 1985 Raspberry Awards, I still think it has its charm. Then again it is probably a nostalgia thing as it is a song that is very 80's.
1."The Last Dragon" (Title song from Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon) 7:26
2."7th Heaven" 3:28
5."The Glow" 3:22
6."Rhythm of the Night" 3:47
7."Upset Stomach" 4:39
8."First Time on A Ferris Wheel" 3:25
9."Peeping Tom" 3:58
10."Inside You" 4:32
The Last Dragon / The Glow Theme Song
Rhythm of the Night - Debarge
This movie was shunned by critics when it came out as it is not what we call, Oscar quality acting by any means. However, there has been a cult following ever since its release. There are even get togethers for viewings every year. So there is interest.
In fact, in the early 2010's there was a rumour of a remake with Samuel L. Jackson as Sho'nuff and Brianna as Vanity. Seems that this never materialized and people are still waiting.
For me, this is just a nostalgic movie. It is fun for a few hours of mindless fun. You have R&B, breakdancing and some martial arts in here. Does it stand the test of time, for fans yes, for everyone else, not really. It is a product of its time. However, you would never see a movie like this nowadays. A studio took a chance on a movie and in terms of profit, it did make some. So it was not considered a flop. Too bad, I think we are lacking the guilty pleasure movies that we never tell our friends that we like as we know you will be made fun at. All we see how is franchises and super hero movies. There are a few movies here or there that are silly but fun.
I think the soundtrack has some good songs but the whole soundtrack is not great. the 7th Heaven song will probably want to make every one puke. I listen to The Glow and Inside You ever so often.
In short, this is a guilty pleasure of mine and I like watching this movie from time to time. I am probably in the minority of people reading this but it is what it is.
The Last Dragon Trailer
Have you watched this movie? What do you like / dislike about it? Let us know at the coordinates below.