Last Man Standing [1996]

Best known for making movies about men and violence, director Walter Hill scored a misfire with this ambitious but ultimately dreary remake of Akira Kurosawa's samurai classic Yojimbo. The story's essentially the same but the setting has been switched to a dusty, almost ghostly Texas town in the 1930s, where two rival Chicago gangs are locked in an uneasy truce. Bruce Willis plays the lone drifter who allies himself with both gangs to his own advantage, working both sides against each other according to his own hidden agenda. The violence escalates to a bloody climax, of course, with Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, and Michael Imperioli as trigger-happy lieutenants in a lonely, desolate war. Fans of gangster movies will want to see this, and, if nothing else, Hill has brought his polished style to a vaguely mythic story. It's far from being a classic, however, and although its action is at times masterfully choreographed, the movie's humorless attitude is unexpectedly oppressive. --Jeff Shannon

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