"Berry Gordy's THE LAST DRAGON," a Motown Productions Picture released by Tri-Star
Pictures, was a contemporary, urban fairy tale set in New York City in 1985.
In addition to its humor and adventure, the film combines dimensions in music, dance and martial arts. Motown also had released an original soundtrack album, featuring songs from the movie by popular artists including Stevie Wonder, Rockwell, DeBarge, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson & Syreeta, and Vanity.
There were casting requirements that made it necessary for its creators to look beyond the Hollywood mainstream for its principal players, "Berry Gordy,s THE LAST DRAGON" tells the story of the deceptively gentle Leroy Green, a black youth devoted to the arts, spirit and legend of his hero, Bruce Lee, and of the two guys out there looking for him, eager physically or psychologically to demolish him.
One of them is on the streets, Sho'nuff tall and mean -- whose reason for wanting to take out Leroy is simple, if simple-minded; the other is Eddie Arkadian -- short and mean -- king of the video emporiums, who has a more bizarre motive for wanting to see Leroy wasted.
Early in THE LAST DRAGON, the Master, played brilliantly by Thomas Ikeda, rips the dragon emblem from Leroy's jacket. Shocked, Leroy assumes the worst and falls to his knees at the Master's feet. Removing the emblem was not a punishment, the Master tells him, but a celebration.
The Master has perceived that Leroy has touched the final level -- not arrived there yet, but touched it, the level beyond the dragon, beyond excellence. When he reaches the final level, the Master tells Leroy he will know it by the appearance of a sublime glow all over his body. "To reach it is not so simple. But it is now within your grasp." The Master, however, is unable to help him further.
Zen, according to Joe Hyams, the author of Zen in the Martial Arts, has no theory; it is an inner knowing for which there is no clearly stated dogma. "The point of achieving proficiency in any martial art is to be able to walk away from a fight rather than to win it," a precept that Leroy in "Berry Gordy's THE LAST DRAGON" tries desperately to follow.
The film's cast is a melting pot of ethnic types, white, black, and Chinese, including three Sum Dum Goy Chinese fortune cookie-factory youths so into "The Harlem Look" that they think they're black.
The film is a breakthrough in several areas: its use of video as adapted to the motion picture camera and in its digita recording of sound. Charles Anzalone, the film's video consultant whose company, Interfacer, built to specification the video equipment used in the film, explains:
|"We used a million dollars worth of video equipment. We used three professional Sony Betacam players, the only three of their kind in the world, especially developed for THE LAST DRAGON. We had to modify the transmission of the video in order to accommodate the filming of the video sections in the film, all that work with Vanity in the Seventh Heaven sequences. This took months of intensive research and development."|
adds, "It's very sophisticated. You can't put a price on it, it's all so new
The process of digitally recorded sound is a little more difficult to describe
than is the video-to-film process detailed above. Sound mixer Dennis Maitland
says, "The opposite of digital is analog, and that's how sound has been recorded
heretofore." The process of digital recording allows much more subtlety and
selection in the recording of sound, and in the later editing-in or editing-out
of unwanted sound
It is also undoubtedly a first in introducing in its starring roles two newcomers each of whom bears a solitary name, Taimak and Vanity.
is tradition at fast-rewind's websites, we can now exclusively reveal the actual
filming locations used in the movie...
The film began production on exclusive New York City locations on April 16, 1984.
The Victory Theater on 42nd Street which was used for the scene where Sho-Nuff interrupts the viewing of Enter the Dragon.
Bernstein's-on-Essex, an oriental delicatessen used in the film with its decor intact
The Harlem Karate Institute (Leroy's karate school) ;
A pizza restaurant in lower Manhattan (Daddy Green's);
A Chinese warehouse on Walker Street in Manhattan (the Sum Dum Goy noodle factory);
Super Amusements in Flushing in the Queens Borough of New York City (Eddie's Video Emporium)
An abandoned wire factory and warehouse at East 118th Street and East Side Highway in Manhattan which was used for the climatic fight between Leroy and Sho-Nuff..
Peter Larkin's spectacular Seventh Heaven club video set was built on Camera Mart stages at 54th and 10th Avenue, a set so impressive that Diana Ross, visiting one day, promptly asked if she could buy it for her next tour!
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