“Martial arts student Leroy Green 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 and rescue a beautiful singer from an obsessed record promoter”.
Let me just start off by saying that if you’ve never watched this 80s, cult classic, Kung Fu flick; you’ve really missed out. It’s time to go find yourself a copy. I’m pretty sure I picked up my copy from the “$5 bin” at my local Walmart so, it shouldn’t be too hard to procure for yourself.
The Last Dragon is the story of Leroy Green, a/k/a Bruce Leroy (Yes, I’m almost certain this is where UFC competitor Alex Caceres borrowed his nickname from), and his quest to be a true martial arts master. After attaining the final level of training from his master, Leroy is confused and doesn’t understand when his master tells him that he already knows everything he needs to know to be in control of the all-powerful force called “The Glow”. Upon Leroy’s insistence that he needs more training, his master tells him to find master “Sum Dum Goy” to learn the secret.
Leroy is constantly laughed at and harassed for dressing like a “coolie” (a Chinese peasant) and endures constant threats by the Shogun Of Harlem, Sho’nuff. While this is going on, a popular, local music video hostess named Laura is being harassed by record promoter and video game arcade mogul (obviously because it’s the early 80s and people like that must have existed), Eddie Arkadian, because he wants Laura to debut his girlfriend’s music video on her show. Eventually, Leroy and Laura cross paths and Arkadian and Sho’nuff team up for an epic finale.
There are a lot of things that make this movie great. First, it has an amazing cast. Martial artist Taimak apparently learned to act while filming the movie but he does an amazing job of playing the eccentric hero, Bruce Leroy. Fun fact – Taimak was the referee for the unaired “alternate matches” that took place before UFCs 6 and 7. You can briefly see him in a clip of the alternate fight from UFC 6 that was shown on the broadcast. His co-star; Prince-protege, Vanity. She was always such a beautiful woman.
With all due respect to a woman who has since passed away; back in the day, who of us didn’t want to “poke her in her lower whiskers”, as my friend Ricky Grissom likes to so crudely yet amusingly phrase it. By the way, if you’re a fan of Vanity, do yourself a favor and watch one of her other classic, 80s films, “Action Jackson”. You’ll thank me later *wink*.
Another great aspect of the film is its soundtrack. This film was produced by the owner of Motown Records, Berry Gordy, and is sometimes referred to as “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon”. The music really adds a lot to the film. There’s even a part of the film, during one of the episodes of Laura’s show, where the music video for DeBarge’s – Rhythm Of The Night is debuted. Classic song!
Any fan of martial arts films should really check this one out. I think it’s often overlooked and underappreciated when it comes to the genre. It brings its own style to the table by being an over-the-top, stylish, urban, 80s kung fu masterpiece. A definite must see!
*Adam Zimmerman (a/k/a The Grappling Gamer) is also a staff writer and contributor to Canadian Bulldog’s World. http://www.canadianbulldogsworld.com