A rampaging, self styled shogun in Harlem; a music producer pushing a talentless woman who sings about dirty books--these are the perils of the modern world only "Bruce Leroy" can surmount. For he is The Last Dragon
in the 1985 martial arts film of that name. Goofy but simple hearted and charming, it's mostly a cast of characters and actors who fall short that still add up to a simply constructed, amusing whole.
The opening theme, a song which Wikipedia tells me won Worst Original Song at the Razzies, gives you all of the plot and the already not exactly subtle themes right away as we watch Leroy (Taimak) practising his earnest Bruce Lee impression.It's time to leave my nest where you were born
This journey you must make alone.
(Spread your wings and fly)
There's a power deep inside you, an inner strength
You'll find in time of need.
The Glow referred to is a power that allows the film to get a little Dragon Ball Z
-ish towards the end with animated effects, which is just as well since no-one in the movie can fight half as well as Bruce Lee. Not Taimak, certainly not the Shogun of Harlem, played by Julius J. Carry III.
Though he gives the best performance in the film, not counting a walk-on role by a pre-fame William H. Macy. The Shogun's strutting about with his gang singing his praises are the right mixture of silly and threatening.
For no reason whatsoever, since the shogun refuses to take money, he teams up with Eddie Arkadian (Chris Murney) to put an end to Leroy. Arkadian is after Laura Charles played by a woman whose name is Vanity. How many times a day I wonder did she hear, "Woman, thy name is Vanity." Her character runs a sort of American Bandstand
and is supposed to be a singer herself but, despite being a singer in real life, is so lifeless in her delivery it's hard to see how she's in any place to judge Angela Viracco (Faith Prince), whose "Dirty Books" song is what Arkadian wants Laura to play on her show. There is a certain separate art to making a song that's supposed to be bad. "Dirty Books" has a sort of intriguing one dimensionality that, perhaps unfortunately, sets it well above the film's theme song.
Leroy meets Laura, and gets on Arkadian's shit list, when he saves her from a bunch of Arkadian's thugs in a very cheaply pitched scene. But, hell, there's still that tiny caveman in my brain who likes seeing the hero rescue the damsel, and kind of overlooks how shallow it is their whole relationship is afterwards based on this.
Well, it's also based on a vaguely maternal urge Laura has to instruct and help the sexually and socially inexperienced Leroy. Another one of those things that wouldn't work in a movie heavier than fluff, but fortunately compared to this movie fluff is a bowling ball.