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  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: MPEG 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Interviews

Last Man Standing

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 101 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Last Man Standing is a reasonably obscure Bruce Willis film, even though it has a few well known actors like Christopher Walken in it. The film is set in the 1930's prohibition era. Our hero, John Smith, rolls in to Jericho, a desert town near the Mexican border, on the run.

There's not much to this plot. Hero rolls in to town, gets himself in to some trouble with the local organised crime group. He gets embroiled in the two main warring gangs, the Italians and the Irish. He offers his services first to one, and then the other gangs, his services rendered to the highest bidder. The death toll quite rapidly mounts in the film. The trick of course, is to be "The Last Man Standing".

Although not your typical Bruce Willis film (there are no large explosions, although there is a hotel that burns to the ground), there is lots of gunfighting and plenty of blood and people getting beaten up. The plot is not very strong, but if you're a Bruce Willis fan, you need to see this movie to sample, yet again, his acting talents. Funny thing is, that Bruce Willis is pretty much the only reason you would want to watch this movie. If he wasn't on the cover, you'd probably ignore it on the shelf. He does a very good job holding this film together, and only when I looked at my personal DVD collection did I realise that a disturbingly large percentage of the DVD's I own have Bruce Willis in them!

  Video
Contract

This film is very dark. There is a great deal of orange and brown from the desert scenes. It's almost like the film was shot through an orange filter. There is virtually no scene where this does not overpower the film. It is deliberate, and adds to the effect of the movie (the whole dust-bowl town couldn't be portrayed more effectively).

The video is also "soft", perhaps deliberately in parts, especially on indoor shots. Some of the outside shots are almost washed out in brightness. Again, to me it seems deliberate, although the first few viewings of the movie I almost thought it was just a very poorly executed transfer.

The film is shot in widescreen and is 16:9 enhanced. I'm a big fan of this approach, and some of the landscape shots are well framed in 16:9, which you could not get the same effect on a 4:3 screen.

Black levels are a bit of a problem. For a very dark film, you would have thought that it would be better, but there is a descernable difference between the video black and the black outside the viewable area. Chapter 9 (around 47m:30s) is one of the most obvious places where the video transfer shows up some problems. The hat of the Ranger who comes to visit the sherrif is almost blue when in shadow. The detail just seems to be lost.

Chapter 9 also has some of the worst motion artifacts during the film. There are a few tracking shots where the Ranger moves around the room rapidly, and there is definitely a ghosting effect that is very obvious. It appears at a number of other points in the film, and is very difficult to ignore after you see it a few times. The bit rate is a good indication of what is happening; typically in the 5.3 range rather than in the 9's. For a single layer disc, a movie that is 101 minutes long and contains trailer material, plus two 5.1 audio tracks, no wonder they had to compress the movie so much, resulting in these video problems. The 16:9 enhanced video will also be taking up a fair amount of room I would expect. Dual layer and less compression would have probably been better.

  Audio
Contract

Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and MPEG Multichannel surround (also a 5.1 track). The Dolby 5.1 track is measureably better than the MPEG track with significantly more depth and bass. Gunfight scenes have quite a lot of impact, and are very well done. The sub gets a bit of a workout during these scenes, as do the surround speakers which have breaking glass and shell casings dropping to the ground.

Dialogue levels are good also, with Willis' calm whisper and narration in lots of scenes very well balanced with the soundtrack.

  Extras
Contract

The extras on this DVD are more than I expected. It somewhat makes up for a reasonably ordinary film. There are biographies on Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken and Karina Lombard. There is also a theatrical trailer (2 minutes) and a Featurette (4 minutes) although for some reason both have a black border around all sides of the picture rather than being full frame.

There are interviews with the main characters (Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Karina Lombard and Alexandra Powers) and also one with Walter Hill (Writer/Director). They are almost all very short "grabs" from a larger interview - some of Willis' interview snippets are only one sentence long.

  Overall  
Contract

This movie needs to be part of a Bruce Willis fan's movie collection. To me, it's one of his transitional movies, from the Die Hard series moving towards The Sixth Sense. It is most similar to The Last Boyscout, or perhaps Hudson Hawk; movies no one has ever really held up as great films, but you like to watch Bruce Willis anyway.

If you're not a Bruce Willis extremist like myself (I even have one of his Audio CD's - The Return of Bruno), this is probably just a rental DVD.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Rob Pascale
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-717 Gold
    • Projector:
          Toshiba TLP450 LCD Projector
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-3300
    • Speakers:
          Krix Euphonix
    • Centre Speaker:
          Krix Centrix
    • Surrounds:
          Mission Dipoles
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-240
    • Audio Cables:
          Harmony Gold Coax
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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