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April 03, 2003 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-03

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8B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, April 3, 2003
Berry Gordy's 'The Last Dragon''is still a gem

The Michigan Daily - eekend I

By Ryan Lewis
Ealy Film Editor

Motown Records has been by far one
of the most influential record labels in
music history. Berry Gordy produced
more No. 1 hits than many of the most
famous groups combined, including
Elvis and the Beatles.
In 1985, Gordy decided to take a
short-lived stint in the film business,
creating one influential yet rarely
remembered film
that characterizes the
emptiness that was
the 1980s. "The Last
Dragon" is, in many
ways, a reflection of
trends and insipid-
ness from a time that
is often looked upon
as the most unimportant decade of the
twentieth century.
Directed by prolific television film-
maker Michael Schultz ("Boston
Public" "Ally McBeal"), "The Last
Dragon" is an early precursor to many
of today's emergent rap/karate films.
'Akin to recent cinema with crossover
pop-singer stars, much of the film
serves as a platform to showcase popu-
lar music. Most notably, slated in the
film as Laura Charles, the once cover
girl-turned-church girl Vanity flaunts
her comely figure by performing some
of her songs as a momentary escape
from the rather empty script.
The film takes place in the heart of

Harlem, a touching story of Leroy
Green (played un-notably by real Kung
Fu master Taimok), a Kung Fu student
hoping to find "the glow." In order to do
so, he must first find the Master. His
journey, however, hardly seems wel-
comed by Sho'nuff, the self-proclaimed
"meanest, baddest, low-down round this
town" of Harlem. Of course, in order to
prove so, he must defeat Leroy, affec-
tionately donned "Bruce Leroy," the
only man who stands in his way.
Local arcade guru
Eddie Arcadian
Cm(Christopher
From Murney, "Barton
the Fink") and Laura
Vault Charles become
mixed in the fray as
Eddie wants his girl-
friend's video played
on Laura's show, and he'll use any
means necessary to have his way.
Good guy Leroy oft finds himself
protecting her from the vicious goons
sent to influence her. The natural love
triangle ensues between Laura, Leroy
and his brother Ritchie, and the quest for
the Master finds incessant interruption
from Sho'nuff.
Certainly this film is no more than B-
movie acting with a poorer than made-
for-television plot, but it serves its pur-
pose by rendering the essence of the era.
With break dancing, R & B and music
videos at the film's core, it centers on the
time's fads rather than any important
character development. "The Last

Dragon's" seeds can still be unearthed in
today's martial arts superstar/hip-hop
duo films including Steven Seagal's
recent stints with DMX and Ja Rule.
Regardless of the rather dismal sur-
face quality of the film, much can be
said about the reflection of society and
entertaining fight choreography. For
many, the '80s passed as a transition era
after a turbulent time in society. Wacky
subcultures came to prominence and
cult followings in entertainment began
to rise alongside computers and
videogames.
Above all else, however, culture
seemed to lack a unifying, overlying
direction, and this idea comes full circle
in the film. It's a facade, a window
shopping of numerous popular foci,
which becomes abundantly evident in
Eddie Arcadian's arcade entrepreneur
dominance. His profession rose to a
multi-million dollar industry as the
decade progressed.
Social implications aside, viewers.
must find appreciation in the sheer
ridiculousness of the film. Cheesy -dia-
logue accompanied by over-the-top
characters -including what many con-
sider the antecedent to Busta Rhymes
(or at least his main influence) in the
Sho'nuff character - provide the
appropriate mindset for the once "cool,"
now unimpressive fighting. "The Last
Dragon" is more of a throwback than
anything for lovers of the What Were
They Thinking? milieu that included
Hypercolor and slap bracelets. And, of

FRESHMEN
Continued from Page 31B
housing situation is definitely one that
should be addressed to a greater degree
during orientation.
Orientation, that two-and-a-half day
trip that poses as a way for freshman to
get a feel of college life, "It's not accu-
rate at all. It is a quick"glimpse of col-
lege life, but has nothing to do with
academics at all," said LSA freshman
Chase Howland.
"I definitely did not know what to
expect, but it is not easier than I
thought," stated Beckett as he discussed
how he perceived college courses
would be after attending orientation.
Despite the fact that most freshmen
admitted to getting stressed out over
classes, many still claimed to sleep
through a majority of those classes,
either in their own beds or in the lecture
halls themselves.
Apart from "This one kid
the stresses of
adjusting to even walk into
roommates and his shower sho
college classes, off in the hail."
one of the
biggest concerns -
among freshman
seems to be the
dorm food.
"First semester was a tease, the food
has gotten way worse," said Cooley.
When asked if he liked eating in the
dorm, Howland replied "I don't enjoy
the food, but I enjoy eating with the
boys." This ongoing battle with the
University may be one students never
win, along with the struggle to feel
comfortable using the communal bath-
rooms.
"This one kid on my hall won't even

walk into his room wearing his shower
shoes. He takes them off in the hall,"
said Tobin. Yet, another freshman, who
shall remain anonymous, claimed that
he would have no problem using his
toothbrush if it fell on the bathroom
floor, just as long as it didn't land bris-
tle side down.
While freshman may differ on the
rules of hygiene, there seems to be no
debate on the video front. Walk into
any dorm room on this college cam-
pus and you're about 99 percent
(please note that this statistic may not
have been accurately computed)
guaranteed to find a copy of at least
one or all of the following:
"Zoolander" (which LSA freshman
Sarah Kramer admits she doesn't
own, but did steal from someone
else.), "The Usual Suspects," "The
Shawshank Redemption" and "Fight
Club" (because even when beaten to a

NICOLE TERWILLIGER/Daily
Freshmen Kevin Orr and Nick Simone fight over dessert in Markley cafeteria.

course, it was just one badass movie that
is too often overlooked in the staggering

number of articles covering the influ-
ence of the film medium.

on my hall won't
his room wearing
es. He takes them
Rebecca Tobin
LSA Freshman
which for Beckett,

bloody pulp,
Brad Pitt still
looks good).
And would a
late night
showing of one
of these be
complete with-
out your
favorite late
night treat,
Cooley and LSA

everything in your tiny room that over
the past months has taken on a whole
new meaning of home, and not to men-
tion a whole new odor (probably from
that piece of pepperoni that fell in the,
crack between your desk and your
dresser that was always just a little bit
to far to reach).

You'll say goodbye to your room-
mate - that is if you are still speaking
at this point - and then you'll be back
on your way home. But don't worry,
you will be back next fall (even if
you're failing, because the University is
cool enough to give you a stab at three
semesters before they kick you out).

HAVE ANY DEEP THOUGHTS?
BE A WEEKEND COLUMNIST.
'TEND TWO800WOD suBMISSIONS WT)
WUKENDZK3~ @MCE(

freshman Brian Harrington is Jimmy
John's.
It has been a long time since that
moment when your parents drove
away and you were left standing on
your own. Looking back, Gastwirth
says that she and the girls on her hall
in Markley have "All grown up
together."
Soon it will be time to pack up

My name is Jesse and
I'm a student at U-M.

j $12.49.X
@ $ ii '? -( Any Two Dinner Combinations
Must Mention Coupon When Ordering
OsuCoupons May
Not Be Combined With Any Other Offer.
Expires 4/30/03
625S. .i See
"Run for Your Life!"
A 3K Race for Human Rights, Corporate Decency,
and the 500,000 Victims of the Bhopal Disaster
20,000 people have died to date because of the 1984 chemical leak in
Bhopal, India. On April 6, Justice for Bhopal recreates the accident here
in Ann Arbor. The route, extending from the Dow Laboratory to the
University Hospitals, is meant to dramatize both Dow's ongoing liability
for the accident and its association with the University of Michigan.
Much of the race will be run through the scenic Nichols Arboretum.

I - nrui Alcohol lowvers Inhibitions
"E around sexual desires,
but heavy drinking dulls
sensation and the ability
to reach orgasm.
Better sex is achieved
through knowing what
your body likes and

Run from a "gas explosion"
Dash for a treatment facility
Gulp "Bhopal water"
Sunday, April 6,
1:30 PM our
Dow Laboratory, wan
Central Campus,
Diag Side
Free (Donations accepted)

Escape the Grim Reaper
Race through a "Hot Zone"

Come as you are!
Wear your pajamas!
More Info: http:l/www.umich.edu/-bhopallrun.htm

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