October 15th, 2014: The Last Dragon (1985)

The Last Dragon

Cast and Crew: Joseph M. Caracciolo (Associate Producer); Berry Gordy (Executive Producer), Mike Starr, Ernie Reyes Jr., Keisha Knight Pulliam, Chazz Palminteri, William H. Macy, Ron Van Clief

What It’s About: Leroy Green (Taimak) renames himself Bruce Leroy (after his idol, Bruce Lee) and trains with his Master (Thomas Ikeda) hoping to become a Master himself.  In addition to contending with scoffing at his over-the-top martial arts inspired gear and manners, Leroy must deal with Sho’Nuff (Julius Carry), the self-proclaimed Shogun of Harlem, who he refuses to fight to prove his prowress.  Leroy comes to the aid of local VJ Laura Charles (Vanity) when an over eager, would be music promoter, Eddie Arkadian (Christopher Murney) tries to force Charles to play his girlfriend Angela Viracco’s (Faith Prince) terrible music.  Can Leroy save Charles and learn the secret of “The Glow“?

Why Watch it Today?:  The Last Dragon is an odd combination of 80s music video, martial arts movie, and urban comedy/drama that was released by Motown, in part to promote their stable of acts.  Motown released The Miracles “Shop Aroundon this date in 1960, a song that became their first #1 single.  The Last Dragon was one of the last films that Motown produced (previous films include The Wiz, Thank God It’s Friday, Mahogany, and Lady Sings the Blues).  By this time Motown  was nearly at the end of its run as an independent company-owner Berry Gordy sold it to MCA in 1988. The film itself is, as noted before, an odd mix of styles, but as anyone who ever caught it randomly on cable can tell you, a memorable one, even if it never entirely comes together as a movie.

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