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Plot summary: In a prohibition era update of Yojimbo, Bruce Willis
shoots a load of gangsters.
First off I will never understand why Walter Hill does not have a better reputation. He's probably best known for his commercial success with the 48 Hrs films, and his other brilliant features get criminally overlooked. He scored a cult hit with "The Warriors", he delivered one of the best westerns ever with "The Long Riders", and put all other car chase movies to shame with the ultra cool "The Driver." As anyone who has seen these films should realise, Hill should be mentioned in the same breath as Peckinpah, Woo and Rodriguez when it comes to slow-mo gunplay.
"Last Man Standing" doesn't rival these earlier works, but it is a tough, gritty film with some fantastic shootouts. It doesn't hold itself back in terms of blood and violence, something current US films of the genre are guilty of doing. It has everything an action film needs; tough antihero, loath able bad guys, a creepy main villain and plenty of cannon fodder. As long as you don't get hung up on technicalities (ie the guns fire ten times more ammo than they hold) you should be entertained.
It doesn't feel like any effort went into the screenplay, but Hill adds some nice touches to the film in terms of nods towards the source material. I particularly like the opening where Bruce spins his empty whisky bottle on the ground to decide which road to take; a clear reference to Toshiro Mifune throwing a stick into the air to decide on his path. There is also an interesting cast; there's earlier Hill collaborator Bruce Dern (The memorable villain from The Driver), William Sanderson (Blade Runner) and of course Christopher Walken, who chews the scenery talking tough with his hoarse accent and threatening people with a Tommy gun. His performance is really the most memorable thing about the film. Willis is not Mifune or Eastwood, but he does suit the mysterious drifter character well and this is one of his better action man roles.
All things said, the film certainly doesn't come close to "Yojimbo", but it does give the more rough hewn "Fistful of Dollars" a run for its money. By no means a masterpiece, "Last Man Standing" should still provide enough for any action fans tired of watered down mainstream Hollywood nonsense that currently dilutes cinemas. It is certainly a lot better than its reputation makes out.
This is simply what the above headline states: an ultra-violent movie
done is stylish cinematography. Walter Hill, a nasty director who does
this sort of thing (violent, profane films but usually with great
visual appeal) did it in spades on this one. This is testosterone gone
berserk.....and very entertaining.
Actually, I enjoy watching this film and don't apologize for it, although it has no "redeeming qualities." However, I love the old-fashioned narration, here done by Bruce Willis in great Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer-style, the period in which it's done (1930s) and the great colors in here. Love those orange colors!! This looks tremendous on DVD with a good flat-screen set.
If I'm feeling in the need of seeing a violent crime film, this usually fills the bill. It's a fun flick. I could do worse.
This film is a bit of an oddity. A remake of a remake, the story is so obvious you are never surprised by events, but the gunfights are pretty entertaining and Christopher Walken's turn as the husky baddie Hickey is suitably menacing. Also the fact that the attractive brunette has a completely pointless scene where she is topless in front of the mirror is a bonus. :) The camera work is stylish and the discordant guitar riffage of Mr.Ry Cooder is superb, the pace is slow but not sluggish and you can almost feel the heat and dust. This film is good but not great. Er... that's it.
This movie is a Gangster remake of Clint East Wood's A Fistful of
Dollars which is a Western remake of Yojimbo which is a samurai
adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Red Harvest. When adapting the
first time Akira Kurosawa changed the amount of gangs involved from 4
to 2. Every version since then has had only 2. The Continental Op, The
Man With No Name, Mifune's Samurai, and Bruce Willis's John Smith. All
Nameless. All working all sides to their own end.
As this is the only gangster version of this story, I like this movie very much, though I would like to see a more accurate version of the Red Harvest. When deciding who should play the Continental Op, none come to mind more than Bruce Willis, which of course brings me back to liking Last Man Standing. Not as pretty as those that came before, but pretty cool.
This brutal Walter Hill pic has one of the best beatings ever burned to
celluloid. It is so brutal, in fact, that the victim (Bruce Willis)
looks like Jason from "Friday The 13th" once his attackers get done
with him. Even better, he then lurches around like Rondo Hatten in "The
Creep Man" plotting his revenge.
The film's final action scene is an awful, indescribable mess, and I have always wondered why Hill and usual editor Freeman Davies opted to construct it this way. It is a shootout presented in a series of dissolves, and it just doesn't work. Hill has always been an adroit director and editor of action, and his fine work has a precision to it that this sequence lacks. Perhaps the camera negatives were damaged or the studio ordered a truncation. Whatever the reasons are for this flawed sequence, it, unfortunately, turns a great movie into a good movie.
The opening sequence, replete with Ry Cooder's smooth scoring, is poetic and beautiful; Willis's arrival in town is directed with skill and energy; and cudos are also in order for the scene in which the first shot is fired and a stuntman is sent flying through a door into the dusty street outside.
Christopher Walken is fantastic as the violent enforcer Hickey, and it is great to see David Patrick Kelly back on the screen as the malicious Doyle.
There are many standout sequences and much to enjoy. Willis's solitary siege of a brothel, for example, is classic Hill stuff in terms of its staging, unapologetic brutality and superb cutting.
That the film is a remake of a remake is of no consequence to me. It is still a rousing, spare piece of masculine entertainment with a whiff of Peckinpah, a dash of Kurosawa, and a splatter of Corbucci.
That ain't no bad thing.
I've become a big fan of Walter Hill's movies and this one is as good
as ever. It's not a particularly cheery film, but it's still enjoyable.
Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken are both terrific in their roles.
Walken plays as good a bad guy as ever, and Willis is good as the
ambiguous lead character.
The gun battles are staged excellently and the music by Ry Cooder works very well with the picture. It's very much a guy film, though. There are only two women who play big parts in the film, but they don't appear very often.
I give LMS 7/10. It's a moody piece but enjoyable.
I really enjoyed Bruce Willis's character and the supporting cast
chosen noting Walken(Hickey)and Kelly(Doyle). They really made the
characters interesting to the audience and they deserve much credit for
doing such a good job in this older film. I have seen many of Willis's
movies and say this one is underrated and unique. In addition, it was
well written with many twists to the plot, keeping you on the edge of
your seat. If you are an action movie shoot them up fan, like gangster
type movies and appreciate the older scenery of the pre 1930's. I would
recommend this movie highly. Kudos to those who made this movie as I
rate it as one of my all time favorites.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - When the
Last Man standing first came out, it was hard not to make the
connection between that film and Yojimbo (since Yojimbo's script was
credited -although not the original source for Yojimbo, an American
crime novel, red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammet - Yojimbo's Kurosawa also
forgot to credit in his film). But even a critic as astute as Roger
Ebert only thought the film was only 'similar' to "Fistful of Dollars"
even though the plots of the two films have more in common than that of
this film and Yojimbo.
Since then, I have watched all the films several times. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the matter again.
The Last Man Standing does not hold up as well as I had hoped; the saturated sepia tones of the film now appear to be a mannerist affectation. It was certainly a transitional film for Willis - the role is pretty heavy - but the Sixth Sense rewrote the book on Willis far better than any of his other off-cast roles could, since (unlike the others) it never made any pretense at being an action film. The voice over is a little pretentious. And its clear that Hill let the Gothic tone of the film overwhelm his efforts at black comedy. And oddly enough, despite its violence the film could use more action.
Yet the film remains historically important, if nothing else, because it now appears to have been the last of a cycle. Although even Jean-Claude Van Damme actually appeared in a "Yojumbo" clone - "Desert Heat" - and there have been other attempts to revive Hammett's essential narrative (e.g. the "Doom" robot film by Albert Pyun) the fact remains that the nameless outsider quick on the draw is fast slipping into the realm of pure 20th century myth. He doesn't really belong in the era of Computer graphics, invasions of Iraq, wars against non-existent terrorism. His blood is part whiskey, but it's human blood; and he may be a killer, but he won't be a party to genocide. He's too real, and yet too good, for the 21st century rushing in on us.
I take the darkly sepia-toned Last Man Standing as a final farewell to a hero of the previous century, just as Hitchcock's 39 Steps effectively said farewell to the romantic adventurer of the 19th century. Every era has its heroes; and it is sad that Sanjuro/John Smith/the Man with No Name can no longer be one of ours. It's probably too much to ask, but hopefully someone better - or at least as good - will come along.
-E. J. Winner.
This movie serves fine for some action, with excellently dark
shoot-outs being shown as John Smith (Bruce Willis), as he has told us
at least, wonders into this town and quickly learns to play the two
opposing gangs for all they are worth, willing to kill in the process
of course, which he does expertly while wielding two colt .45 1911's
masterfully. This movie recalls both the westerns of of the sixties,
one of which, For a Fistful of Dollars, is another adaptation of this
movie's source material, Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, as well as the noir
movies of the 40's. This may work for some but it does feel rather odd,
in both a good and bad way. Bruce Willis, in grim and monotone manner,
is perfect for the narration held in between the shoot-outs. This
narration, along with the costume's of the characters, fedora's and
all, are cheerful reminders of the noir movies of past, to show that
perhaps that genre has a little life left within it. The desert setting
in which this 1860's style ghost town, in which the two rival gangs
square off, both with help from our main character, is located in is
the main reminder then of the western part of this movie as well.
The Plot then is basically Bruce Willis's character playing both sides for whatever he can get. He is grimly cool in a certain way. The gangs then are the Irish, led by Doyle, and the Italians, led by Strozzi. These gangs are essentially copies of each other except for their names and accents, and perhaps their faces. The only difference of course being that Doyle has a psychotic second-in-command, or so we are told at the start of the movie. He, as a psychotic, is played by the true mother of all psychotic playing actors.... You guessed it, Christopher Walken, essentially playing Christopher Walken. The only other occupants of the town then are the sheriff, bartender, and undertaker.
In the end this is movie is certainly a dark one, although it is also not particularly serious in terms of realism. The atmosphere is extremely dark and grim as many characters are killed by Willis as well as Walken. It may actually be found depressing later on in the movie. However, contrary to this, the violence is often slightly comical. In one instance as many as forty bullets are needed to take down a character, and in others people, after having been shot by pistols, fly back several yards in the air. Something will certainly work for everyone who sees this movie, however only some will find all of these mixed aspects pleasurable when placed together as they have been here. This movie definitely employs major style, both in its shoot-outs and visual style. In parts of this film, the color has been diluted so much that it appears more or less selectively colored, such as in Sin City but not so much so. This will work for noir fans as well as those who find this bold style innovative and original, but others will find that it contributes more-so merely to the grim nature of this movie. The shoot-outs, undeniably are the best part of this movie and is all you desire is some good action then this movie fills that desire well. While this movie prefers darkness over fun, the stylistic and violent gunfights as well as the dark style will appeal to many, as it has to me. 7/10
First of all I would like to say that people have to high expectations. Films like this are not made to win oscars. There mostly guy films, with high action and lots of sexual preference. But this was a solid film all together. Willis gives a solid performace and so does Walken. The action scenes are extremely good and provide much excitment. I gave this film an 8.
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