Last Man Standing is the sort of film featuring a martial arts “star” that makes you appreciate the magnetism of the bland Gary Daniels, the acting of the wooden Olivier Gruner or even the cinematic presence of the forgettable David Bradley.
As Detective Kurt Bellmore, Jeff Wincott (Martial Outlaw, Open Fire) doesn’t exactly set the screen on fire (unless you count his chain smoking throughout the film) with his expressionless face and even more frozen delivery. In fact, the most you’ll take away from the entire experience of him alternately destroying junkyards full of clunker cars in various freeway chases and shooting the endless punks who are apparently on the payroll of the evil bank robber Snake Underwood, is his unfortunate resemblance to comedian Tim Allen!
This is a PM Entertainment film though directed by Joseph Merhi (Rage, Riot, The Sweeper and the M in PM) so even if you are having to fast forward through the love scene with his wife, it’s just so you can get to the next lengthy sequence where PM somehow had yet again another stretch of L.A. freeway closed so they could destroy every old car and truck they could tow onto it! If you have any doubts the film is going to follow this typical PM movie template, the first car exploding three minutes into the movie will cast them aside in a fiery shower of hot, blazing metal!
Kurt Bellmore is just your average bad ass L.A. cop who does whatever it takes to bring in the scum he runs into on the job! Even if it means brawling with Snake Underwood in a hotel, smashing through every piece of glass in the place before finally both tumble completely out of the hotel, falling several stories into a pool conveniently located below! No matter though because Kurt just grabs Snake and hauls him out of the pool and complains that the hideous yellow sport coat he was wearing and got ruined was one he just bought! And I bet all his cigarettes are ruined, too! The life of a bad ass L.A. cop isn’t as glamours as all those non PM Entertainment films make it out to be, is it?
What seems to be just your run of the mill bust involving high-fall stunt work turns into something much more sinister (and much more stunt-intensive!) when Snake is bailed out of jail in 6 hours and the roughly one hundred thousand dollars in cash that Kurt saw on scene is reported into evidence by shady Lt. Seagrove as only about three thousand dollars and some coke!
Kurt’s veteran and jaded partner Doc (Wiseguy‘s Jonathan Banks) tells Kurt to let it alone! He tells Kurt a story about how he once found his wife banging another cop, but he just turned around left and divorced her. She married the guy, cheated on him, got caught, was killed by her husband and the husband is now in jail. But Doc is still around! So he won. Or something. And he lives with his senile mother! Take that dead ex-wife and imprisoned killer cop!
Guys don’t get to be honest cops who are martial arts experts though by letting anything alone! So it is that a supposed meeting with Internal Affairs in a parking garage turns into a shootout that ends with Kurt stealing a red Corvette, picking up his wife and going on the run!
The corrupt cops and the bank robbers they are working with try to kill Kurt, but seem to go for style over substance as they choose to blow up the building Kurt is staying in instead of just shooting him in his sleep. Kurt of course takes this as a sign to head back to the city, get some evidence from his old partner’s house, and track down one of the criminals to a topless bar for some gratuitous shots of implants before the gratuitous shoot out and head kicking start.
The final showdown between Kurt and his corrupt bosses is notable for two things. One is that it takes place in a subway station which instantly tells you that the bad guy will get run over by a subway train. The other is that the movie decides to go all Weekend at Bernie’s and props a dead crook up to look like he’s having a cappuccino and reading the paper in order to trick the bad cops! I can’t remember seeing that tactic too many times before during a sting operation!
As unexpectedly delightful as seeing a corpse take part in the subway finale was, the movie delivers plenty of the awesome moments you would expect from a film with its pedigree. While Jeff Wincott isn’t at all compelling whenever he is on screen, the work his stunt doubles put in was award worthy! For instance, there’s a motorcycle chase that has him driving right up to the back of a speeding armored truck and diving into it from his motorcycle, then he’s dragged behind the truck by a chain for miles, before being cut loose and flopping in the street like a rag doll!
The action and violence make Last Man Standing worth a look for sophisticates who like action and violence, but if you’re here to check out the Jeff Wincott hype, you probably won’t be back for more.
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