Monday, March 8, 2010

Last Man Standing (1995)
* * *1/2

Cast: Jeff Wincott, Jillian McWhirter, Jonathan Banks, Jonathan Fuller

Directed by Joseph Merhi

Jeff Wincott stars as a gritty killing machine cop (Indeed you can bet that all heroes in PM movies are in fact killing machines) who looks for vengeance on the mobsters that killed his partner, of course what he finds is a ring of crooked cops and in doing so, he is framed and marked for death, with his wife in tow, Wincott decides not to take this lying down and in his one man crusade of vengeance he obliterates the bad guys by the hundreds. That actually isn’t an estimate as Jeff Wincott goes on such a rampage that he racks up a body count bigger than Charles Bronson in Death Wish 3 and 4 combined. Once again this PM movie is what you would expect, nothing but a static pretext to set up a body count but what sets this one apart from others is Wincott’s charisma. Indeed he can easily play a movie cop because his grizzled face and mean demeanor often effortlessly conveys the rage and sociopathic tendencies that make his character a straight up anti-hero. Complimenting him nicely is McWhirter who comes off as somewhat strong willed but also with a sense of humor that keeps Wincott’s character from imploding. However while character development is superior to most action flicks, let’s not kid ourselves, in that the selling point is the action sequences. Of all the PM movies, Last Man Standing in my opinion has the best action sequences. The hotel sequence that opens the film is thrilling as is the climax and also utilizing Wincott’s martial artistry is another plus. The shootouts almost rival John Woo (almost but not quite) while the fight sequences are truly impressive as you can tell a lot of stuntmen got hurt bringing this movie to life. As usual the car chases are also well staged and very suspenseful and the creativity such as the motorcycle stunt diving into an armored car and then holding on to the chain while firing the gun is thrilling stuff. In other words this is one of the best straight to video action flicks ever made and PM in many ways deserves to be spoken in the same breath as the Shaw Brothers, because few movie companies could make lower budgeted action flicks far better than bigger budgeted movies of the time. Indeed this Last Man Standing blows the dull Bruce Willis film of the same name out of the water. This is also Jeff Wincott’s best movie to date and Martial Law 2, Martial Outlaw and Killing Man were no slouches either. Overall though you can tell those who made Last Man Standing had fun making it, that the actors enjoyed showing up to do the action chores and that everyone was taking it to the limit and that special care to make this movie one of the best of its kind, ultimately pays off.

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