Don't expect too many surprises here - you are thinking of buying a Bruce Willis film after all!
As usual, he is pretty good value for money in this prohibition era gangster story, set in a dusty Texas town. Based upon the classic samurai movie, Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa (and copied in the Clint Eastwood film - A Fistful of Dollars), Willis plays an 'on the run' mobster, who accidentally walks straight into a gang war and proceeds to play one side off against the other.
Be prepared for plenty of gunfire, violence and Willis taking his customary beating (only to spring back as tough as ever). His interaction with the two female characters of the story helps to broaden the story a little bit.
I know this film is not a classic, but is good value for money entertainment on DVD. Don't try to compare it with Yojimbo or A Fistful of Dollars, just enjoy the movie for what it is - a good gangster film with Bruce giving yet another steady performance.
on 30 October 2010
Hill, Willis et al. were standing on the shoulders of giants when they made this movie and as such were on a hiding to nothing from the outset. They must have been well aware that there would be an army of critics waiting to pan their efforts regardless. But a good story is worth telling and re-telling over again and so full marks to them for even attempting this movie.
The trick to a successful re-make is to add something to the original. (and this is an official re-make, both Ryuzo Kikushima and Akira Kurosawa get a credit in this film, something which is missing in Sergio Leone's which led to Kurosawa launching a plagiarism suit against him.) For my money Hill succeeds with this brief on several fronts.
There are several small but significant characters and plot devices which separate Hill's movie from Kurosawa's and Leone's. For example Willis's laconic voice over adds depth to the character and explores his motivations, the added character of Strozzi's moll reveals a softer center to John Smith as does Willis' attempts to blend a sense of humour into the role. Another added character is the Texas Ranger, wonderfully played by Ken Jenkins, who is upset over the death of the Border Patrol officer. He warns that he can tolerate one gang in Jericho, but not two and if more than one remains in Jericho in ten days time, he will bring a squad of Rangers into Jericho and wipe out both gangs, effectively putting Smith on a tight time limit.
On the technical front Hill's film-noirish cinematography and lighting are first rate and the brooding sense of menace he creates is echoed in Ry Cooder's disturbing electronic, blues-style main theme. (Cooder did a similar job on another of Hill's films, Southern Comfort) The action is frequent and bloody, very much in the style of Sam Peckinpah including slow motion sequences which adds real weight and gravitas to the proceedings, unlike the Bang Bang, youre dead! comic book violence of a "Fist full of dollars". Another stylistic influence is Hong Kong cinema, notably John Woo with Smith's twin 45s blazing a bloody path across the screen. The film's production values are far superior to either of the previous film's as evidenced by Willis himself, a huge star at the time who is supported by a strong cast including Bruce Dern and Chrstopher Walken. David Patrick Kelly is dangerously psychotic as Doyle and in some respects reprises his role in another of Walter Hill's films, The Warriors ("Warriors, come out to play!") He actually believes he is doing Felina a favour by keeping her captive, "she only had one dress before meeting me".
Of course the film has its faults, there are very few films which posses non. For example Christopher Walken's character, Hickey is built up in his absence throughout the first third of the film as being the ultimate bad guy, however when he does actually appear he is a little tame. In fact he even tells Willis's character, Smith, not to believe all the bad things he has been hearing about him. Perhaps he is the anti-villain to Smith's anti-hero.
All in all it's a film which is definitely worth seeing, even if you are unfamiliar with either of the two previous versions of the story. Kurosawa's original was inspired by Dashiell Hammett's "Red Harvest", which was set in a small 1920s US town beset by corrupt politicians, police and warring criminal gangs. Its ironic then that the story has returned home via feudal Japan and an Italian western shot in Spain. As it has been 14 years since "Last man standing" I wonder if it's time for another remake.......
If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.
on 14 May 2012
Ok, So this won't be everyone's cup of tea but if you like ridiculous action and not much in the way of long winded unnecessary chat by the actors then this is for you. Bruce maybe a little over the top in - says little, kills a lot mode but if you leave your brain at the door and enjoy it for the hick town in the middle of nowhere, all guns blazing, corny one-liners (typical Bruce Willis actually) bad guys get their comeuppance that it is, then you'll like it. Not too hard on the grey matter and you don't have to think too deeply about the meaning of the film or even how Brucie came to be there or why - to enjoy it. Think of it as a 1920's version of the first Die Hard movie and you're half way there.
Last Man Standing is directed by Walter Hill who also adapts the screenplay from a story written by Ryûzô Kikushima and Akira Kurosawa. It stars Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, Karina Lombard and Ned Eisenberg. Music is by Ry Cooder and cinematography by Lloyd Ahern.
Walter Hill's variant on Yojimbo, plot basically sees Willis as drifter John Smith, who after arriving in the dusty town of Jericho, promptly sets about making some serious cash by playing the town's two gangs off against each other. Smith is one tough hombre, a deadly pistoleer who has a fear of nothing, which is why the two respective gang leaders want him to work for them. Noses get put out of joint, blood flows, scores settled and a anti-hero is born, complete with permanent scowl and dry narration.
The look and sound is terrific, Cooder's pessimistic twangs are all over the plot, while the visuals dovetail between sun-baked landscapes and the misty lensed ghost town of Jericho. Hill brings his trademark stylish violence into play, with slow-mos and rapid fire shoot-outs impressive, while his skill at creating an antique atmosphere is very much in evidence. Unfortunately the narrative isn't up to much, it lacks scope and characters merely exist, making this very much a style over substance exercise. It also means that much of the cast are given only morsels to feed on. A shame when you got Walken and Kelly on overdrive when on screen.
It's an odd blend of a Western with Prohibition Noir characters, but it's unmistakably a Walter Hill film. For his fans there's enough to like about it whilst accepting it's a bit of a throwaway on the page. For the casual crime/action film fan, however, it's likely to be much ado about nothing. 7/10
A remake of the famous "Fistful of Dollars" brought up to the prohibition era of the thirties.
Bruce Willis as "Smith" rolls into a veritable ghost town in a battered old Ford. The good citizens have abandoned the place to two rival gangs of thugs.
In Eastwood style, Smith plays them against each other, and comes out on top.
The low growling voice of Willis, the old bangers and the sets, make this a most enjoyable film. To top it there is the perpetual dust and desert (in spite of lots of rain) - and it creates effective atmosphere and sense of abandon.
I don't know what sort of firearms he was using, but they never ran out of ammo and bodies dropped by the score. It all made for good viewing.
I am not at big Willis fan, but this one I enjoyed, particularly as I could predict what was going to happen next, loving the old Spaghetti Westerns.
I have seen a lot worse!
Wonder where it was filmed?
on 14 September 2001
This is not a great film, but I like like it anyway. A blatent remake of 'Fistful of Dollars' (itself a remake of 'Yojimbo')but relocated to the Prohibition era. Willis plays the Eastwood part with cool menace and Christopher Walken plays an excellent psycho (big surprise there then).
This is a good solid 'leave your brain at the door and enjoy the killing' film with additional possibilities for amusement for Sergio Leone's fans who can play 'spot the remake', for example the 'My mule don't like people laughin, he gets the crazy idea their laughin at him' scene is replaced by Willis' car being smashed up and his 'diplomatic' attempt at getting compensation.
At the end of the day if you like spagetti westerns this will be up your street, if not just don't bother.
on 3 January 2004
A take on the Man With No Name, Bruce Willis is excellent in the title role, playing the various factions against one another. Anyone who has seen a Fistful of Dollars is going to know the story, but that doesn't take anything away from the film. It is well cast and well acted and puts the (anti) hero in enough interesting situations to keep you involved and thoroughly entertained.
on 17 January 2014
an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition, on the run from his latest exploits, happens upon the town of Jericho, Texas.
It has become more like a ghost town, since two warring gangs have driven off all the decent folk.
Smith sees an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun.
Despite his strictly avowed mercenary intentions, he finds himself risking his life for his, albeit skewed, sense of honour....
Made at a time when Willis was struggling to make it big at the box office, it comes as no surprise that this disappeared pretty rapidly at the cinema.
But it's still a solid action movie, which is slightly tarnished as a remake of a remake and so on.
Willis is great as always as John, the gunslinger who is playing off each gang. Hill directs the action pieces with expertise, and it's a lovely move having Walken appear int he second act, all the time before with his gang mentioning him in passing.
Why this cost so much to make, I have no idea, because the production values are not the best, but it has an eclectic cast, who really know how the liven up an average script.
There are plot holes aplenty, but it's a swift movie, with hardly any pauses, and it's one of Willis' hidden gems.
See it as a throwaway action movie, and you'll enjoy it
on 21 October 2007
If you saw Clint do this film, albeit spaghetti-style, do not waste you time watching it again. There are no changes to the basic storey - it is just a different costume set-up, and in this remake they drive cars instead of horses.
Very hard to hear what Bruce is saying half the time and when you do hear it, well, it is just like kids fighting talk in the playground. Really, don't make the same mistake I made, give it a miss.
on 3 January 2010
I have followed Bruce Willis's career for over 34 years now and, despite what some people think, he does actually have a good repertoire. He works well with kids, great sense of humour, action movies and is not afraid of looking absolutely awful on screen. This film comes into each category at some point. It depicts the era well, the extremely harsh environment and 'kill-or-be-killed' mentality of the times. He really does take horrendous thrashings in this film and, as usual, delivers with his usual aplomb. The 'sting' he puts in place between the gangs is intricate and pays off well in the end. There is also a thin line of tenderness throughout, which surprises. If you like lots of blood and hard gangster action, this could well be the movie for you. I loved it.