The Last Dragon is a 1985 martial arts\action\musical film directed by Michael Schultz & produced by Rupert Hitzig for Berry Gordy (of Motown Records).
The film starred Taimak, singer Vanity, Julius Carry, Christopher Murney, Keshia Knight Pulliam (from "The Cosby Show") and Faith Prince.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Set in New York City, the movie follows a martial artist named Leroy Green (a/k/a Bruce Leroy), who has dreams of becoming a great martial artist like his idol Bruce Lee. His master (Thomas Ikeda) explains that he has reached the final level of martial arts accomplishment known as "The Last Dragon". Martial artists who reach this final level are said to be able to concentrate such mystical energy into their hands that they begin to glow.
Only a true martial arts master would be able to exhibit "The Glow" over his entire body. Leroy doesn't fully understand and, in possession of a medal supposedly belonging to Bruce Lee, Leroy embarks upon a journey to find Master Sum Dum Goy, whom his master claims can help Leroy unlock the power of "The Glow".
Another martial artist, Sho'nuff (Julius J. Carry III) (a/k/a "The Shogun of Harlem") sees Leroy as the only obstacle to being acknowledged as the true master of martial arts. Leroy refuses to fight him and a furious Sho'nuff vows that he will defeat Leroy. Sho'nuff and his gang later break in and assault one of the students at Leroy's martial arts school, Johnny Yu (Glen Eaton), demanding that Leroy bow before Sho'nuff. Finally, Sho'nuff and his gang attempt to send a message to Leroy by destroying the Green family pizza restaurant.
Meanwhile, video arcade mogul Eddie Arkadian (Chris Murney) sends his men to kidnap 7th Heaven video host Laura Charles (Vanity) in the hopes of getting his girlfriend Angela Viracco's (Faith Prince) new music video featured on her show.
The kidnap attempt is thwarted by Leroy who easily fends off the thugs. He loses his medal during the struggle, which Laura recovers. Later, Leroy witnesses Laura being kidnapped by Arkadian's brutish henchman Rock (Mike Starr). A clue left behind reveals that the kidnappers work for Eddie Arkadian Productions.
Laura refuses to promote Angela Viracco's video on her program, but as Arkadian's men prepare to coerce her by force, Leroy suddenly bursts into the room and rescues Laura once again.
Back at her apartment, Laura gratefully returns Leroy's medal. Consumed with vengeance, Arkadian hires Sho'nuff to defeat Leroy and takes control of the 7th Heaven studio, capturing Laura and Leroy's younger brother, Richie, who has snuck in hoping to woo Laura.
Posing as a pizza delivery man, Leroy manages to infiltrate the assumed lair of Master Sum Dum Goy within a fortune cookie factory, but is shocked to discover that the "Master" is only a computer churning out cookie fortunes. Leroy consults his former master for answers, but his master suggests that Leroy has known the answers all along.
Not wanting anyone to get hurt in the process of achieving her stardom, Angela leaves Arkadian and asks Johnny to warn Leroy about his plan. As Leroy returns to 7th Heaven, he is ambushed by an army of violent thugs hired by Arkadian. Leroy's students, led by Johnny, charge into the studio to even the odds.
Using Laura as bait, Eddie lures Leroy to a dilapidated building where he finally faces off against Sho'nuff. Sho'nuff reveals his ability to use "The Glow", his hands pulsating with a red aura, and beats Leroy viciously before attempting to force him to acknowledge Sho'nuff as "The Master".
As recent events flash before Leroy's eyes, he realizes that his former Master was correct and that everything he needed to achieve the "Final Level" was within him all along. His entire body bathed in the sublime golden light of "The Glow", Leroy uses his newfound power to defeat Sho'nuff.
Arkadian appears and fires a single bullet which Leroy catches between his teeth before detaining Arkadian for the police.
Laura and Leroy are reunited at the studio where the two kiss.
- Taimak as Leroy Green
- Vanity as Laura Charles
- Julius Carry as Sho'nuff / The Shogun of Harlem
- Christopher Murney as Eddie Arkadian
- Leo O'Brien as Richie Green
- Faith Prince as Angela Viracco
- Glen Eaton as Johnny Yu
- Jim Moody as Daddy Green
- Mike Starr as Rock
- Lisa Loving as Sho'nuff's Woman #3
- Ernie Reyes, Jr. as Tai
- Esther Marrow as Mama Green
- Keshia Knight Pulliam as Sophia Green
- Jamal Mason as Roy
- B.J. Barie as Jackie
- Chazz Palminteri as Hood #2
- William H. Macy as J.J.
- Carl Anthony Payne II as Kid in pizza shop
- London Reyes as Dancer
The movie began production in April of 1984 in exclusive locations in in New York City.
The dojo and workout scenes were filmed at the Harlem Karate Institute of Grandmaster Ernest Hyman, Japanese Goju-Ryu, in Harlem, New York City.
The Victory Theater on 42nd Street (which was used for the scene where Sho'nuff interrupts the viewing of Enter The Dragon) was an adult movie theater.
Ron Van Clief choreographed the fight for this scene in which Julius Carry performed his own stunts.
Due to pressure from the studio in order to cut $2 million out of the movie's budget, director Michael Schultz and screenwriter Louis Venosta spent all night in a hotel room rewriting the script. After Venostra fell asleep, Schultz decided to delete 40 pages of the script and when Venostra woke up, they spent the day recreating the material.
Daddy Green's (the Green family pizza restaurant) was filmed at the Village East Pizza located between 11th and 12th street on Avenue C in lower Manhattan.
The Sum Dum Goy fortune cookie factory was filmed at a Chinese warehouse on Walker Street in Manhattan. Eddie's Video Emporium was filmed at the Super Apartments in Flushing.
The climatic fight scene between Leroy and Sho'nuff was filmed at an abandoned wire factory\warehouse located at East 118 Street and the East Side Highway in Manhattan. The Seventh Heaven club video set was built on the Camera Mart stages at 54th and 10th Avenue.
Berry Gordy intentionally cast Sho'nuff's entourage for a "rainbow effect", using real martial artists such as André D. Brown and Janet Bloem combined with professional actors such as Lisa Loving.
Berry Gordy was frequently on the set and had many of his artists from Motown visit the set. The producer, Suzanne de Passe was very hands on with the project.
"The Last Dragon" opened at #4 at the box office, grossing $5,254,359 during its opening weekend. Domestically, it made $25,754,284.
The movie received a mixed critical reception.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given a 33% rating based on 6 reviews with an average rating of 4.8\10. It was also given an audience score of 86% based on 19,925 user ratings with an average rating of 3.9\5
Leonard Maltin gave the movie two (out of a possible four) stars, calling it "juvenile, campy and heavy-handed...Strictly kid-stuff, except for one gag: the name of the Chinatown warehouse".
Roger Ebert gave the movie three in a half stars, saying, "By the end of the film, the hero glows like somebody who has just tapped into the wrong power line".
The New York Times' Janet Maslin said, "'Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon is a multimedia movie of sorts, designed for those who can't bear the monotony of only one thought or sound or activity at a time".
1985 Golden Globes
- Best Original Song- Motion Picture (for the song "Rhythm of the Night"): Diane Warren (nominated)
1986 Razzie Awards
- Worst Original Song (for the song "The Last Dragon"): Norman Whitfield & Bruce Miller and Bill Wolfer & Vanity (for the song "7th Heaven") (nominated)