"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon

tn_lastdragonAs the founder and producer of Motown Records, Berry Gordy, Jr. created one of the most successful African American business enterprises in history, re-invented the sound of American music, discovered Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and signed such important artists as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. But music wasn’t enough to quench his thirst so he moved to L.A. and helped turn Diana Ross into a movie star, producing LADY SINGS THE BLUES and directing MAHOGANY.

Unfortunately, even a man who made such a powerful contribution to music and culture could not escape the funk and soul dead zone historians call “the 1980s.” There were black artists changing the world during that decade, but Michael Jackson had left Motown and Prince was never on it. Nobody on Motown could compete with those two, I don’t care how popular El DeBarge, Rockwell or Teena Marie were. Proud afros were replaced by drippy perms, tight rhythm sections by cheesy keyboards and drum machines. It was not a good time for Motown.

Let’s put it this way: 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: Motown 1980s, Vol. 2 includes Bruce Willis’s rendition of “Respect Yourself.” So in 1985 we got Berry Gordy’s last movie, BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON.

mp_lastdragonBERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON is the ludicrous story of Leroy Green – first identified as “Bruce Leroy” – an extremely socially awkward, Bruce-Lee-imitating black martial artist dork who walks around New York in Chinese clothes and hats looking for “the master” who he thinks will help him reach a final level of skill that will cause him to glow. A level Bruce Lee didn’t quite get to, I don’t think. While on this quest Leroy accidentally crosses Sho Nuff (a guy in a samurai/Afrika Bambaata getup who thinks he’s the Shogun of New York) and Eddie Arcadia (a corrupt video game mogul who tries to strongarm TV host Vanity to show his girlfriend’s crappy Cyndi Lauper rip-off video).

Sho Nuff comes to Leroy’s dojo and challenges him to fight, but in the tradition of THE BIG BOSS and FIST OF FURY he refuses. So then Sho Nuff goes to Leroy’s dad’s pizza joint, breaks some stuff and puts his loudmouth little brother upside down in a barrel. When Leroy finds out what happened his brother calls him a coward and blames him for the pizza assault because he wouldn’t fight Sho Nuff. Then it goes into a furious training montage where Leroy’s almost gonna cry and it seems like we’re supposed to agree that he shamefully fucked up by not wanting to fight some weirdo for no reason.

Despite his muscles and genuine martial arts skills, Leroy (played by a first time actor named Taimak) comes across as a complete weiner. He talks in stilted English just like what they write for his English-as-a-second-language-sensei. He adds “san” onto the names of his family members. He doesn’t understand sex, and gets confused about things his little brother tells him. He’s not just naive, he’s straightup stupid, and takes the entire movie to figure out what every single person watching figured out in the first scene: that his master was trying to tell him he is the master and had the power all along (SPOILER FOR FIRST SCENE OF MOVIE).

I just do not buy Vanity falling for this kid, especially since I’ve seen her with Carl Weathers. When she’s with him it seems like she’s looking after her real boyfriend’s little brother. It might be a fun movie if it had a great lead, but this guy makes the kid from NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER seem cool. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but at least at that age he was not a great movie badass. And it doesn’t help that he constantly rips off Bruce Lee’s weird battle cries, making it seem like Michael Winslow or somebody doing a lame kung fu parody.

They lay the Bruce Lee worship on way too thick. He wears the GAME OF DEATH yellow jumpsuit to class, gets into an altercation at a Times Square showing of ENTER THE DRAGON, gets an idea from THE BIG BOSS, and Vanity tries to seduce him by showing him FIST OF FURY clips on a giant screen. But instead of getting horny he just has a child-like sense of wonder. You start to think come on man, I love Bruce Lee movies too, but I occasionally shut up about it. This guy is a nerd. Not the kind that is supposed to be good in today’s society but the kind that was supposed to be bad before the invention of REVENGE OF THE NERDS. He’s a pre-revenge nerd.

There is a part at the beginning where he karate chops an arrow in mid-air, though. I’ll give him that. Good job on the arrow chop.

I want to like the movie, because it is a unique specimen, and because I’m a sucker for these cross-cultural type of deals. Jim Kelly was already doing it in the ’70s but it’s still cool to see an ’80s take on combining Asian martial arts with black American culture. I think they’re trying to be funny more than trying to turn all mankind into brothers, but they do have this black guy living Chinese and some Chinese guys who try to be soul brothers or whatever and Sho Nuff walks around with his getup and nobody seems to think it’s odd. And I’m all for that.

In a way it reminds me of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (which came out a year later). Both put some ancient Asian magic into an ’80s movie city, playing it with a mostly straight-face but also getting silly. Of course, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA has a better story, much more interesting special effects, funnier jokes and a protagonist (I guess I can’t really say hero) that is way cooler and more interesting to watch than this Bruce Leroy. Also, the sidekick in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is way cooler and more interesting to watch than Bruce Leroy.

Which reminds me that at the end suddenly Bruce Leroy has a 12 year old sidekick who’s way more badass than him. It’s Ernie Reyes Jr. in his first role. Remember that little dude? In fact his TV show was called SIDEKICKS, and he was a little chosen one asskicker who helped a cop played by Gil Gerard. Here he’s one of Leroy’s students who helps him in a big warehouse fight and has the most impressive moves of anybody in the movie. His dad was one of the fight choreographers (Ron Van Clief was another one). I thought the last time I saw little Ernie was in THE RUNDOWN, but it turns out he was one of those natives that attacked them in the cemetery in KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Also he’s a stuntman in ALICE IN WONDERLAND and AVATAR.

Anyway, maybe it was ahead of its time in being similar to BIG TROUBLE, but the tone is more like SUPER MARIO BROTHERS or some shit. The bad guy’s right hand man is played by Mike Starr, but he’s a total bumbler. He has a fish tank with some unseen beast in it that they make a huge deal out of in the beginning and then never pay off. All the villains are played more for laughs than scares but you know how it is, sometimes when you’re trying real hard to be funny that doesn’t mean you achieve your goal.

There are a couple unexpected faces that pop up. Rudy from THE COSBY SHOW is Leroy’s little sister in one scene. William H. Macey is Vanity’s producer in one scene. Chazz Palminteri is a henchman with a mustache in one scene.

“The Glow” is pretty cool. In the final fight Leroy and Sho Nuff have sparks and lightning shooting off their hands when they hit each other. I’m sure if they go through with the remake they’re talking about it will just be CGI like you’ve seen a million times before, but back then it was painted on like the lasers in STAR WARS so it looks pretty cool. They gotta get animators to do it frame-by-frame so there’s more of an artful design to it.

It’s funny though because he gets that glow when he’s fighting Sho Nuff, who’s just some asshole that wants to prove he’s a better fighter than anybody else. His worst crime is vandalism. So of course Leroy beats him to death, but lets the actual mobster who tried to have him killed live. But as far as the movie lets on it seems like we’re supposed to accept this as justice.

I’m not sure why Berry Gordy wanted his name in the title. It doesn’t seem like he did that much. The music is mostly cheesy as hell. But it’s pretty funny to hear Willie Hutch doing “The Glow,” his version of those inspiration rock songs in the training montages for KICKBOXER or the ROCKY sequels.

BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON was written by a dancer from FAME and directed by a guy named Michael Schultz. I recognized that name so I looked him up, turns out it was because he directed a much more terrible movie I watched recently, DISORDERLIES. I never heard of him and I guess maybe it’s because he’s more of a journeyman than an auteur type, but it looks like he’s kind of a pioneering black director. His credits go back to a 1972 TV movie of TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK and include COOLEY HIGH, CAR WASH, GREASED LIGHTNING, WHICH WAY IS UP?, SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, BUSTIN’ LOOSE and KRUSH GROOVE. In TV he did alot of weird pilots and TV movies including THE JERK TOO, THE SPIRIT (probly better than the big screen version), and HAMMER, SLAMMER, & SLADE (a pilot for an I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA spin-off with a cast including Jim Brown, Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, Steve James, Ron O’Neal, Eriq La Salle and Martin Lawrence). Also he’s still around and did an episode of CHUCK.

Well, I’m not trying to scare anybody away from this one, but I’m not trying to scare you toward it either. It’s pretty bad. Like THE FAT BOYS ARE… DISORDERLIES I sort of had a fun time watching it and scratching my head about what they were going for. It’s memorable, at least. But if you saw it back in ’85 this might be one of those ones that works much better in the medium of memories than on home video.

* * *

In case you’re wondering what that poster says, I transcribed it:

He’s a martial arts master who refuses to fight.
He’s a Bruce Lee fan who’s so sure he’s Oriental that
he eats popcorn with chopsticks.
His friends think he’s too serious.
His family thinks he’s crazy.
His enemies think he’s no challenge.
But she knows he’s



This entry was posted on Sunday, April 25th, 2010 at 10:46 pm and is filed under Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

54 Responses to “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon”


    Vern – Oh Jesus, I think that’s good enough reason for me to not exactly rush anytime soon to watch this one. Coulda placed that warning earlier mate.

    Of course since you don’t get joy from reviewing bad movies, I can’t hold that against you for I’m sure you haven’t suffered through the pain of SGT. PEPPER. Such a bad misguided bloated embarrasing expensive worthless bomb*, it in small part helped create The Razzies.

    So….thanks Mr. Schultz?

    *=Then again what did anyone expect when Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees are hired to cover The Beatles? That’s almost like getting High School Musical to do Run DMC/Public Enemy tracks.

  2. Unusually, this is a fairly obscure one that I’ve actually seen, and let me tell you, it has balls. Big brass ones. If it’s the film I’m thinking of, the hero’s “power” is represented by digitally-added neon blur-lines. Also he does something at the end (SPOILER) that was way cooler when Arnie did it in “Terminator 3”.

    All the same, I remember this as being fun, if unsubstantial. Would like to see it again to get the opportunity for a second view.

  3. Sho Nuff beating up an entire movie theater sold it for me.

  4. This is one of those bad movies that had a few flashes of brilliant WTF-ness. Most of them belong to Sho Nuff. If only they made a spin-off starring him. Wouldn’t you pay to see Berry Gordy’s The Sho Nuff Chronicles?

  5. cheesy as heck movie, but a fun one in my opinion, I watched it once while on vacation

    you have to be a lover of 80’s flicks to like it though I think, I’m not sure what Vern’s overall opinions of the 80’s are though

  6. also WTF? Vern has seen the Super Mario Brothers movie? why does that make me laugh?

  7. The only reason I know about this movie is because in one episode of Sarah Silverman’s show, Brian Posehn beat the shit out of some dude while that song played. I thought it was some goofy joke song, intentionally designed to mock all the 80’s synth themes. Guess not.

  8. Kevin Holsinger

    April 26th, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Good morning Vern and all.

    I’m hoping they remake this, simply so I can see Samuel L. Jackson as Sho Nuff. That seems like such a no brainer to me. I wonder, though, how much Mr. Jackson would train for the movie. I don’t think I’ve seen him do anything that required major martial arts training.

    Oh, and Vern, you know Taimak’s got his own website, right:


    I’m watching the video on the homepage. First thing I notice is that Taimak is aging WELL. Like a badass Barack Obama.

    Second thing I’m thinking is why an entire classroom full of kids was watching “The Last Dragon”.

  9. I saw this movie the perfect way – as some random movie that came on tv in the small hours when I couldn’t be bothered going to sleep. The only things I really remembered was the glowing at the end when he realises he had the power all along, and his little brother’s adorably racist sayings, like calling his brother a “chocolate covered yellow peril”.

  10. The main theme does kind of rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff_rNhmJ570

    That’s the most 1985 thing you’ll hear all day.

  11. I’ve had this in my Netflix Play It Now queue for a while. Deleting that shit like yesterday.

    Also, Sgt. Pepper’s is so bad it makes you start wishing the Beatles never happened just so that movie couldn’t have been made.

  12. I grew up in the 80s in America so The Last Dragon has a lot of memories for me. A lot of people around my age also have fond memories of The Last Dragon. Many can name Sho Nuff and get excited about it.

  13. Sam Jackson is all wrong for Sho Nuff. Busta Rhymes is the only choice.

  14. Made a special trip from home town to Big town for this, that’s how big a boner I had on Vanity at the time.

    It was my first experience being in a fiesty, almost all-black audience – who were shall we say…enthused.

    Good times.

    Fuck I’m old.

  15. @SirVincealot

    I’m a bit younger, so my first experience in an all-black theater was House Party 2. That was pretty incredible.

  16. Hey Vern,

    Yeah, I already reviewed this one over at Kiaikick, and I do disagree with your assessment of it (of course, all reviews are opinions, so…) And you got dead wrong that Leroy killed Shonuff, because if you look again, after he gives the final kick, he shakes his head and pulls Shonuff’s body halfway out of the water, and you can see that he’s still breathing. Lrey didn’t want to kill the guy, so he’s no different than at any other time in the film. I gave it high marks because of the way it blended its Bruce Lee homages (how different is that from Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol 1?) with the urban setting, and the performance of Julius Carry III as Shonuff. He was simply a great villain, who shows up just enough not to get tired of his performance, which has tons of quotables. The theater scene alone is classic. I doubt Sam Jackson can do better than Julius did. He’d just be Sam Jackson in better clothes.

    Anyway, good review as always, man.

  17. I think I caught the very end of this once. Does the main character catch a bullet in his teeth?

  18. Yeah, Stu. That’s the one.

  19. Lukas Kaiser – aint that the truth?

  20. The opening montage of the film is certainly the best part of it–it seems like the only place where everything came together synergistically (the funky music, the action, the directing etc.) The final fight is quite a letdown in comparison (sort of like Robin Williams eating spinach at the end of Altman’s otherwise batshit insane and pretty clever _Popeye_–like the budget just ran out and oh well no one wanted to see much of that anyway, right?) Even though I admit getting a bit choked up when Leroy finally gets a clue and comes back up with the realization that he was a master all along (and starts glowing).

    Then he throws a few punches and kicks, the end. {facepalm} {sigh} His curbstomping by ShoNuff prior to that point was more exciting and well-choreographed.

    I know, the movie was intended to be about attitude more than substance–I can see a real argument for that. But the opening training montage shows they could have achieved a lot more, and didn’t. (Ditto with the things Ernie does in the film. And yes, I recognized him in _Crystal Skull_, though I thought I had to be wrong. Nope!)

    I have a certain amount of nostalgic fondness for the film, which predates (and then got completely drowned by the vastly superior) Big Trouble. (Which I discovered kind of by accident at the video store several years later; Last Dragon, on the other hand, was taped from television.)

    I thought Vern was joking about the remake–is that really real??? They couldn’t mess it up much worse, but they’ll be hard pressed to match its goofy charm, too.

    Vincealot: that was how I caught Die Hard the second time (first screening for my brother). I was so entertained by the audience (in a good though unnerving way) I almost couldn’t pay attention to the movie! If I had more courage, I think I’d watch any second screening of a film that way–though in today’s world (and even back then, to some degree) the danger of being mugged or otherwise assaulted seems pretty high. (It doesn’t help that I look like a stereotypical evil villain.) Anyway, one of the best and surely most memorable film experiences of my life.

  21. I dunno, I have a bit of a soft spot for the goofiness of this thing. Sho Nuff is such an un-menacing, preening nutball of a villain (those shoulder pads alone!) that I have to consider him a minor recommendation for the film just on the basis of how well he sets the tone of the thing. Beating up the arcade game in the pizza restaurant? That’s tellin’ ’em! It was great to see Julius Carry III in BRISCO COUNTY, JR., but I always felt he was an untapped comedy resource even after that zany show. Sadly, it looks like we’ll never get to see what else he can do; I’m surprised to find out he died of cancer a couple years back.

    As for Leroy…I sort of admire how out-of-step with real life the filmmakers chose to make their protagonist, even if I can’t ultimately endorse it as realistic characterization. Put it this way: THE LAST DRAGON plays the idea of an obsessed, possibly mentally ill African-American martial artist as comedy, GHOST DOG plays the idea of an obsessed, possibly mentally ill African-American martial artist as drama. I think we all know which one was more effective.

  22. I think this movie is fuckin hilarious. Mostly because of the villians, both Sho Nuff and Eddie Arcadian are great villians. I like how there’s this running theme of asian people wanting to be black and black people wanting to be asian. Also, I think this is the only movie to ever play Debarge’s Rythm of the Night music video in its entirity.

  23. I think Vern was a bit hard on this one – Kial already pointed out that Leroy didn’t kill Sho Nuff at the end (he pulled his unconscious body out of the water at the end so he wouldn’t drown) and I think that kind of nice-guy innocence is what I find so charming about Taimak and the movie in general. (I’d probably be kinda pissed if I thought he kileld Sho Nuff too) I thought the dual villain storyline was actually pretty innovative (before the Batman movies ran it into the ground), and the action scenes are decent. But I also remember it being kind of racist because it seems to freely borrow stuff from Japanese culture (the aforementioned adding -san to names, stupid jokes about eating sushi) and mashing them with bad jokes about Chinese culture. Because all Asians are the same and all. Might as well have had jokes about the Vietnam War and Korean convenience store owners while we’re at it.

    Oh, and did anyone notice Sho Nuff calls someone a motherfucker in a PG13 movie? That might be a first.

  24. Of course Vern’s going to be hard on this one. The eightiesification of his beloved funk music is one of his pet peeves. The soundtrack to this movie must have felt like a personal affront to the sanctity of his earholes.

    Me, I immediately downloaded that Willie Hitch song (“The Glow”) that Vern mentioned, and it is simply amazing. It sounds like a Sheila E song fucked a Stan Bush song and gave birth to the RAD soundtrack. That I think this is a good thing tells you a little something about what decades of irony abuse have done to my musical taste.

  25. *Hutch* I meant, not *Hitch*. It’s definitely a long way from THE MACK to THE LAST DRAGON.

  26. Though I generally am an easy mark for eccentric 80’s flicks from my childhood, this one just always (even then) came off as aggressively obnoxious to me. Watching it makes me feel like I have a bad flu.

  27. Nabroleon Dynamite

    April 26th, 2010 at 6:59 pm



  28. My freshman year roommate loves this film. We puffed a couple blunts and he made me watch it once. I liked it, but I don’t plan to make time to watch all of it again. The first 10 minutes, however, are magical. I keep The Last Dragon in my NetFlix queue so that I can rewatch some of the musical segments every few weeks when my apartment needs to be pepped up with the beat of the rhythm of the night.

  29. I vaguely remember seeing this on cable and being amused by the Sho’Nuff guy. Maybe it was one of those 2 a.m. things.

  30. This is just pure 80’s fun.

    Totally unfair to compare this to BIG TROUBLE, one-third of the Holy Carpenter/Russell Trinity.

  31. Vanity also John Stamos in the hilarious Never Too Young To Die

  32. Wait, that Hutch song can be downloaded?? Where did you find it?! {off to peruse Amazon}

  33. Yeah, I got it off Amazon. Best 99 cents I ever spent.

  34. I think Willie Hutch should have received a grammy for being able to sing that song with a straight face. Hilariously awesome song.

  35. It’s kind of awesome that this movie is a Golden Globe Nominee for Best Song (Rhythm of the Night) – which is crazy because a) I had no idea that song was from this movie, and b) that’d be like a Black Eyed Peas song or those crappy songs from the Transformers movies getting nominated today.

  36. Have you heard the shit that gets nominated for awards? Three 6 Mafia has an Oscar. That’s like Green Day getting a Tony.

    Wait, that’s probably gonna happen, isn’t it? Why do I even know that?

  37. I can’t let that one go, Majestyk. I’m not a fan of Three Six Mafia or the entire regional style they’re a part of. But “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” is one of the most deserving “Best Song” Oscar winner in many years. It’s very rare for a song to be so integral to a movie, let alone get acknowledged for it. That whole movie is about the creation of that song, and it manages to be believable as a song that these characters would create, be catchy enough that you enjoy hearing it throughout the movie and also express things about the way the character thinks.

    Okay, I just looked at a list and there have been some other deserving winners – the one from CRAZY HEART this year, the one from ONCE a couple years ago, both following in “Pimp”‘s approach, and “Lose Yourself” from 8 MILE was a good choice. But alot of time the winners are like the song from SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (probly the end credits dance, but nobody knows), the Melissa Etheridge song from INCONVENIENT TRUTH (another end credits one I think), end credits from RETURN OF THE KING, etc. Or whichever song from a Disney musical people thought was catchiest. It doesn’t seem like it’s based on what it does for the movie as a whole, just which song people like.

    Yes it was hilariously ludicrous to see those guys collect their Oscar, but it was definitely a case of the Oscars getting it right.

    And I admit, “The Glow” is pretty funny. I’m not a big Willie Hutch fan anyway, I don’t mind that he went into an “Eye of the Tiger” period.

  38. Fair enough, Vern. To be honest, I never saw HUSTLE & FLOW so I don’t know how well the song works in the movie. I just don’t like Three 6 Mafia’s music in general and don’t think they have any particular talent of any kind, although I’ll admit that they seem like funny dudes. (We’ve interviewed them in my magazine a few times.) I should have picked on something else, like one of those end credits songs by high-profile adult contemporary artists that nobody except for people who vote for awards take seriously anymore.

  39. But really, are we surprised that movie awards miss the boat on music? It’s not really their forte. You wouldn’t expect the Grammies to know jack about movies, would you? (Not that they really know anything about music, either.)

    In conclusion, fuck awards.

  40. Those Disney songs always kinda bothered me a little. Never liked them a whole lot and they always seemed shoe horned into the movie to have a hit song in there. It was like an institution. You could always count on some lame R&B/Pop song that invoked the movie’s title to be packaged along with the movie. I’m looking at a list of best song nominees during the 80’s and the list is pretty impressive. It pretty much blows the 90’s nominees out of the water. Some of my all time faves in there. Oh yeah, Eye of the Tiger was nominated in 1982 . . . and didn’t win!

  41. Wow, I could’ve sworn Gangsta’s Paradise from Coolio was nominated but wasn’t. I guess the academy wasn’t ready to nominate rap/hip hop songs yet. Too bad because not only was that a great song, but it was relevant to the movie’s story (Dangerous Minds) and socially relevant too. Hmmmmm.

  42. It’s also too bad none of Coolio’s songs for CHINA STRIKE FORCE were nominated. He was actually in that one, playing a drug dealer who is also coincidentally named Coolio. He spends the whole movie talking about how he hates Chinese people, but then he suddenly starts doing kung fu at the end. It’s like seeing a Klansman breakdance.

    Needless to say, I recommend this movie.

  43. As far as I remember, Gangsta’s Paradise was on the short list, but then got pulled out because it sampled a Stevie Wonder song. So officially they didn’t want to nominate a song which catchiest part was taken from another song.

  44. I also think it’s a shame that the Ghostbusters song didn’t win.

  45. Ahh, that makes sense. I guess thats why they didn’t nominate Ghetto Supastar from Bulworth lol.

  46. I guess I should clarify – I think the nomination is kind of awesome/bizarre not because it’s a bad song, but because Rhythm of the Night was inescapable back in the 80s yet I don’t know anyone who associates it with this movie. It was a big pop hit kinda like Footloose, Take My Breath Away, Get into the Groove, or those other big 80s movie hits, but it just happened to come from a completely ridiculous movie where dudes punch each other with lightning bolts coming out of their hands.

    Speaking of, Vern have you seen Streets of Fire? It seems right up your alley – directed by Walter Hill, Willem Dafoe badguy, some hero badassery and female sidekickery, and that Dan Hartman song “I Can Dream About You” came from that movie but nobody remembers the movie!

  47. I just remebered, The Golden Child is another 80’s movie that deals with Asian mysticism

  48. *remembered

  49. Hi Vern, I got your book. Can’t wait to read it! The Last Dragon is an awesome movie, by the way.

  50. Looks like your readers disagree with you on this one, Vern. Respectful dissent rules the day!

  51. The Last Dragon gave us something very rare back then and even today- a Black (actually biracial) superhero. Add some great kung fu, an unforgettable scene stealing Black villain, a beautiful Black (also biracial) love interest then throw in a little Asian spirituality/mythology, break dancing and Motown music and what do you have- an instant classic.
    It is one of my all time favorites & very memorable for anyone who grew up in the eighties.
    C’mon who can’t appreciate a motown meets kungu fairytale/comic book come to life. The 80’s cheese of it hides its real charm, spirituality, & fun. Its a great mix of music, action, character and comedy.
    Sho’nuff is one of the all time great Villains. Every move he makes and word he says is hilarious. From “Kiss my converse!” to claiming he’s the “Shogun of Harlem” and the “Prettiest, Baddest mofo low down around this town”
    Leroy is supposed to be naive and misunderstood. Leroy’s quest for the glow shows us how we need to find balance, face our fears, recognize our value and believe in ourselves to reach our goals.
    Vanity is hot, Eddie Arcadian (The Napoleon complex having Arcade King) is hilarious and secondary characters like Johnny Yu (the master of fighting without knowing how), Tai (Ernie Reyes Jr.), & Richie (Leroy’s jive talking little brother) add nicely to the movies charm.

    Yeah this movie is cheesy but it is intentionally made that way, it has become a cult classic for a reason.

  52. I saw this in theaters last week, it was a blast seeing it on the big screen! It’s so 80’s, and one could argue that it does not hold up, but that’s one of the things that makes it so great. Taimak was there too, nice guy! He’s currently touring to promote a film he’s trying to make (check your local Alamo Drafthouse), here is his proof of concept video:


  53. iofjeiorfer

  54. This movie was not what I expected when I saw it on NetFlix five or ten years ago. It’s definitely 1980s but it’s not as awesome as you’d think for a movie that’s about funk and martial arts. But it’s got some good music, a good cast, an interesting story, and you care about the characters, so I’d give it a B. Sho Nuff was great. Every time I see Julius Carry in things I think “Sho Nuff! The Shogun of Harlem!”

    Also, since the 1990s I’ve had a free font on my computer called “SumDumGoi” and I now realise its name was a reference to this movie. There’s an enjoyably low-budget restaurant commercial from about ten years ago that covers “Suki Yaki Hot Saki Sue” and I now realise that was referencing this movie too. (I’d previously thought the restaurant made up the song.) URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBMkP0UB6sU

    Good songs in the movie: “Star,” “The Last Dragon,” “Suki Yaki Hot Saki Sue,” “Upset Stomach,” “Treat Her Like a Lady,” “7th Heaven,” and of course, “The Glow.”

    In a sense, Jack Burton is the sidekick in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. It’s just that we see more of the movie from his POV and he’s played by the more famous actor.

    Hard to believe Ernie Reyes Jr. was 13 when he was in RED SONJA. He looked a lot younger. He also looked like he was about 15–17 when he was in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II when in fact he was 19. It’s too bad that didn’t keep working for him when he made SURF NINJAS, where he was playing a high-school student but looked at least 20. He’s still great though. And besides, Rob Schneider was supposed to be his classmate and he was in his 30s.

    The SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND was a pleasant surprise to me when I saw it on TV in the 1990s. The Bee-Gees’ cover of “Heavy” is my favourite memory of it. A non-bald Donald Pleasence intoning “I want you” was classic. The fact that the future villain band was called Future Villain Band also tickled me at the time. I can see how if you’re a Beatles fan it might be sacrilege (in which case you should also hate ACROSS THE UNIVERSE in order to be fair) or to paraphrase Jim Cornette, for people who don’t like that kind of thing, that’s the kind of thing they don’t like.

    Paul: I’ve seen both of the movies in question but I can’t remember what happened in this one that also happened in TERMINATOR 3. Gives us a hint?

    Mr. Majestyk: Loved your “like a Sheila E song fucked a Stan Bush song and gave birth to the RAD soundtrack.” :-)

    JamesOvace: Chewitel?

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