Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Erratic Viewings: Last Man Standing

So you know I am going a bit fanciful notion to keep it loose and easier for me to write. With this wayward view on writing you get to pick and choose a bit more leisure. Howzabout a story of a gunslinger caught in the middle of two warring mobs and deciding who to work for. This is Last Man Standing.

More Colt 45 than Billy Dee Williams!

Stuck in Prohibition a lone man, "John Smith" (Bruce Willis of Moonlighting, Die Hard, Hudson Hawk, The Last Boy Scout, Striking Distance, The Jackal, Mercury Rising, The Whole Nine Yards and The Expendables) walks in to the ghost town of Jericho Texas. The Irish and the Italians are blasting each other for a piece of the action after scaring of decent people. Gotham of the Old West. The Irish want Smith as their new gunsel offering him dough to fight for them. The paddy in charge, Doyle (David Patrick Kelly of The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Dreamscape, Commando, Cheat Shots, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Twin Peaks and Malcolm X) and his enforcer Hickey (Christopher Walken of The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, The Dogs of War, A View to a Kill, King of New York, True Romance, The Prophecy, Nick of Time and The Country Bears) don't see eye to eye about Smith and he leaves it open ended.

Why must I play the eye candy?  Grr.

The Italians led by Fredo Strozzi (Ned Eisnberg of Deadly Force, Hiding Out, Miami Vice, Air America, The Fanelli Boys, Star Struck, Head of State and Million Dollar Baby) tosses Smith an offer and the promise of position of power. Smith lets some info between the gangs for extra scratch remaining neutral. Our ghost town has three whole jobs left, the sheriff, bartender and undertaker. Imagine Raymond Chandler meets John Sturges giving a hybrid of the gritty Old West and the roaring 1920s.


This film brings suspense and action hand-in-hand and it dawns on me why. Our director is Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Long Riders, 48 Hrs., Streets of Fire, Brewster's Millions, Crossroads, Extreme Prejudice, Red Heat, Another 48 Hrs. And Wild Bill) and this feels like a Peckinpah flick similar with The Wild Bunch or The Getaway, giving elements of suspense, character development, story arc and a fair degree of movie unfolds. With Willis' stoic line delivery, the patented Eastwood squint and the feeling of pure apathy in contrast to Walken's scenery chewing, this flick is pretty damn impressive but it does fall a bit short to be a classic. The pseudo love interest Felina (Karina Lombard of Legends of the Fall, Kull the Conqueror, Deception, The 4400, Secrets, The L Word and Rescue Me) gets pawned off to Smith and there's a bit of chemistry but honestly Hill really just used her for eye candy. A disappointment given the lady can act but it happens.

People of all ages, creed, shape and size will reference A Fistful of Dollars calling this a remake but if you really do your homework, this is a remake of Yojimbo by writer/director Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, The Idiot, Sword for Hire, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Saga of the Vagabonds, Fencing Master, Redbeardm Sanshiro Sugata and The Last Day of Hsianyang). You see Americans, Kurosawa is responsible for The Magnificent Seven, The Outrage and Stray Dog so you may have heard a few of these. Hell, Sword for Hire feels closer to A Few Dollars More than I previously knew. Hell with the level of blood flowing this could be Sergio Corbucci's Django but Willis' still not as cool as Franco Nero. No offense Bruno.

Blood's so thick in the streets, I need sponges.