Samuel L. Jackson vs. the ‘Dragon’
He’s set to star in the remake of the 1985 cult classic
By Leslie Simmons
It’s another heavy role for Samuel L. Jackson.
Having most recently played a dirty cop in “Lakeview Terrace,” Jackson is set to star as a bad guy again in Columbia Pictures’ remake of Berry Gordy’s 1985 cult classic “The Last Dragon.”
Jackson will play Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, a role played in the original by the late Julius Carry, whose spiel included asking ego-driven questions like “Am I the baddest mofo lowdown around this town?” Each time his gang of thugs answered, “Sho ’nuff!”
Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and Gordy’s son Kerry Gordy are producing.
Penning the screenplay as well as producing is Dallas Jackson, who heads up the urban family label DJ Classicz with Davis. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is co-producing.
The updated plot will be along the same lines of the original, centering on young martial arts student Leroy Green in his quest through the streets of New York to achieve the highest level of martial arts accomplishment, known as the Last Dragon. Those who achieve the high ranking possess the Glow, making them the greatest fighter alive.
The project, announced by Columbia presidents Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, will take a new look at “Last Dragon” coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Motown next year.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Kerry Gordy as he continues his father’s legacy, and we’re confident that he along with John and Dallas are the perfect team to develop the project,” Belgrad said. “They will capture everything that people love about the original while also bringing a fresh edge to the remake.”
The original, which also starred one-namers Taimak and then-Prince protege Vanity, was released in March 1985 by TriStar Pictures and received lukewarm reviews by critics like Roger Ebert, who gave it 2 1/2 stars and said it was a “great near-miss.”
Despite the reviews, “Last Dragon” did well at the boxoffice, grossing nearly $26 million. It soon became a cult classic for scenes like Bruce Lee follower Green remaining so loyal to the martial arts star that he eats his popcorn in a movie theater with chopsticks.
“I’m a huge fan of the original and look forward to bringing Sho’Nuff into the 21st century,” Jackson said.
Jackson, repped by ICM and Anonymous Content, made a surprise cameo in the summer blockbuster “Iron Man” and the sci-fi action film “Jumper.” He also stars with the late Bernie Mac in “Soul Men,” which opens Christmas Day, and Frank Miller’s upcoming “The Spirit.”
As far as remakes go, making one of the kung-fu ’80s cheesefest The Last Dragon is a pointless exercise. The movie is perfection. And this week I will regale you with my full review of Berry Gordy’s masterpiece. With Vanity, and even William H. Macy in the gayest sweater imaginable. I myself only train in the Arts Martiale so that one day I can attain “the glow.”
Taimak was great as the fresh-faced Bruce Leroy, but I doubt he’ll return. He’d better eat popcorn with chopsticks, dammit!