If RZA had his way, he’d have Rihanna — for his new film. The Wu-Tang Clan kingpin is co-producing a remake of the 1980s fan favorite “The Last Dragon” with Samuel L. Jackson and told MTV News yesterday he’d like the sexy Barbadian songstress to take on the role of video show host/singer Laura Charles. Popular back-in-the-day vamp Vanity originated the role in the 1985 flick, while Taimak tackled the lead character and her romantic interest, Bruce Leroy (a.k.a. Leroy Green).
“That’s the one I’m rooting for,” RZA said of Rihanna. “We’re keeping that same concept of the girl being in the music business.”
RZA explained that several female artists were being looked at for the part, but he thought Rih would be the best choice. He also noted that he and the filmmakers were in the process of finding a new-millennium Bruce Leroy but wouldn’t disclose the identities any of the candidates. (Hey, how about Rihanna’s pal Chris Brown?)
Late actor Julius Carry, who guest-starred on a myriad of TV shows from the “Jeffersons” to “Moonlighting” to “The Unit” during his almost-30-year career, stole the show in the first “Last Dragon” as Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem. The villain’s classic line was “Kiss my Converse!” Sam Jackson has been cast as the hilarious baddy in the remake. (Busta Rhymes played Sho’nuff in his video for 1997’s “Dangerous.”)
“I’m co-producing and I’ll add my martial arts expertise and add my ideas and make a phat film from that cult classic we all loved as kids,” RZA explained. “The first draft of the script is in right now. We definitely should be shooting in ’09.
“We’re gonna make it real classic,” the Shaolin general added. “We’re not gonna take it back to the ’80s. We’re gonna try it a few years ahead. Modern times, but a few steps ahead in the future. We got some crazy ideas, but the main thing is still finding that glow. That’s still the theme of the film, to find that glow in yourself.”
In the original film, black belt Bruce Leroy yearned to reach the highest level of karate training, which involved finding a mythical sensei who could teach him how to find “the glow.” Leroy, after getting his butt kicked by Sho’nuff during their finale face-off, learned that “the glow” was in fact his inner strength. He rallied in the fight to knock out the tough Shogun.
Also in the original, Leroy’s family was from Harlem and had the first black-owned pizzeria in town. RZA assured, “We still got it in Harlem. But instead of it being a pizzeria, we got it as a Chinese restaurant. We got some elements of the old in there, but we’re adding some new elements. One thing I don’t think the old movie captured — because they couldn’t capture it, [there] wasn’t a lot of CGI — was I think some of the action sequences could’ve been cooler. But this one, we’re not lacking that. You will definitely have some crazy action sequences.”
RZA and Jackson are becoming very familiar partners. On January 27, RZA is releasing the second soundtrack to the animated TV show “Afro Samurai,” titled Afro Samurai: Resurrection. Jackson stars in and executive-produced the animated series.
“He’s my man, he’s a cool muthaf—a,” RZA noted. “Sam loves kung fu movies and exploitation films. I love the same things. I recognize Sam as the big O.G. We as hip-hop artists gotta realize something when we step into other worlds. I’m the master of my world. I’m a bad muthaf—a. I showed and proved that already. I got my footprints clear in the sand. But in Hollywood, I’m the student now. We gotta learn when we’re the master and the student.”
RZA’s next film is Judd Apatow’s comedy “Funny People,” starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen and slated for release in July of next year. RZA plays Chuck, one of Rogen’s buddies, who works with him at a grocery store.