Review: LAST RESORT, Jon Foo Saves His Family From a Gang of Dastardly Thieves

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Review: LAST RESORT, Jon Foo Saves His Family From a Gang of Dastardly Thieves
Michael, a former special forces soldier now living in Thailand, takes on a small army of thieves by himself when his wife and daughter are taken hostage during a bank robbery. Floor by floor he eliminates the gang of thieves with deadly force. He will have to save more than his wife and daughter when the true object of the gang's focus is discovered. The lives of millions will be at stake unless Michael can stop this gang from achieving their goal. 
Last Resort is the reunion of write and director Jean-Marc Minéo with the star of his 2011 film, Bangkok Revenge, Jonanthan Patrick Foo (as Jon Foo). Continuing with the family affair, Bangkok Revenge stunt coordinator David Ismalone returns and he has brought along his wife and daughter to fill in the roles of Foo's family. 
American actor Clayton Norcross was brought on board to play the role of the mercenary Cooper. Think of a makeup of any grizzled characters played by the likes of Steven Lang, Frank Grillo and Michael Biehn and that is what you get. 
The three men who matter, Minéo, Foo and Ismalone are all seasoned martial artists and action actors. Minéo starred in his fair share of action films in his time, as did Foo. Ismalone got his big break throwing furniture at Tony Jaa in that first big fight in Ong Bak
If at first Last Resort feels... familiar... it is because it seemingly borrows from the blueprint of John McTiernan's gold standard of action films, his 1988 not-a-Christmas action movie. At the time of this release we've just come out of the holiday season. For a lot of action fans that means part of our holiday watching ritual includes going back to that McTiernan classic action film. So that movie will still be fresh in our minds when we watch Last Resort. Hell, you could have watched that other film last year, five years, ten years ago and you'd still pick up on the stark similarities.
You got the setup of the estranged wife trapped in the building with the thieves who falls back in love with our hero after he saves her. The distracting of the security guard at the front door with sports before they kill him. There is the excess of floors above the bank that are still under construction which gives our hero ample room to play in. A higher ranking officer leads a botched SWAT raid on the bank. There's a thief who pretends to be an escaped hostage who then fights Foo. There is also a bizarre hostage release demand during negotations with the local police officer. Near the end the thieves move the hostages to the roof, waiting for a helicopter to pick them up. It goes on. Minéo tries to throw a curveball late in the game but until then, homage or not it all feels really familiar.
So if you could just go back and watch the other film, why watch Last Resort? A key difference is Michael is a lot more formidable opponant than the traditional hero from that other movie. Where the other was put in a situation they had to survive through, Michael walks up and into the building after he learns his wife and daughter are held inside. It's all about intention and Minéo and Foo make a decent attempt at making a ruthless version of that film; if an Evans or a Tjahjanto were asked to make their version of such a film while they were still establishing their credentials early in their careers. 
Foo is a good action hero. The London-born actor does well in the action scenes. He's not too expressive here though, really one note. Michael is all business and the film does not present him in an approachable way. It suits the moment, but if you want people to remember you for your charm and charisma, Minéo's script doesn't do that for his lead actor. If a Hollywood production is looking for another Asian villain that can hold his own in action scenes though? If Tony Jaa and Jet Li could do it with barely a lick of Englih language skills we see no reason why someone like Foo couldn't land a gig like the others did and be better at it. Ah, but with the recent exceptions of Dacascos and Yen, Hollywood typically likes their Asians quiet and deadly. 
Minéo is really eager to please action fans here. To everyone's credit the gun violence is by and large pretty good, fun even. Same goes for the melees that happen as well. If you like your action leaning towards the violent side of the spectrum there's enough here to satiate your blood lust. There is some grappling as well that is pretty good. Thankfully not too much is lost in the framing either. Minéo, Ismalone and their team of stunt people do a good job of creating decent action scenes that work above their pay grade. 
Not everything always works here. The cool and the ludicrous moments happen in equal parts. Moments such as a baddie pulling an AK-47 out from the shallow water fountain directly out front of the bank entrance, out in the open for everyone to find ti. It looks cool in slow motion, but really now, fire the guy who thought that that was the best hiding for his gun instead of in the bushes with everyone else. It is one of a few moments when you're laughing at the movie and not with the movie, a handful of unintentionally funny moments. Likewise, a heroic bloodshed moment with Michael laughing himself along the floor, between two gunmen and not getting peppered with automatic gunfire is a skill you only possess in movieland. That, and the ability to hide in a small bathroom barely big enough for one person let alone our hero and two more gunmen. Where was he hiding exactly!?! Chalk these up to poetic license. 
The English is... a challenge to listen to and does create some of those unintentionally humorous moments when delivering some of the safe and simple dialogue. It's likely here just to have made it easier to sell Last Resort internationally. You don't have to worry so much about subtitling a large chunk of the movie you just boughts the rights for. We all know about the silly blowback against subtitles, right? 
It is no surprise that the visual effects are a victim of their alloted budget, the clearest indicator being the muzzle flashes. Don't know if you're like us but holy hell it's not hard to do good ones any more. It's nit-pcking in the moment but this is always one of our biggest pet peeves when it comes to action cinema. Just cannot let it go!!! The blood splatter is good. The explosions you can group together with the muzzle flashes. We understand not everyone has the means to set buildings on fire ad hoc. Even some of the most highly regarded entries in the action genre skippd a step or gave realism a miss for effect. Really, with a little bit of research you can accomplish quite a bit with meager means of production. 
Last Resort is a slice of comendable action entertainment that bears the markings of its small budget. The entertainment value is intentional and unintentional which will keep it from standing out from crowd of the Southeast Asian action community, and up to the poplular contemporaries of our time. It's similarities to McTiernan's not-a-Christmas movie action classic also makes for a bit of fun as well. Hell, you could get proper sloshed were you to make a drinking game of spotting the references in it.
If not for the one note performance Jon Foo makes a good case for inclusion in further international action projects, if not more with higher profiles. The direction from Minéo is better than his screenplay and David Ismalone has clearly been paying attention to what his contemporaries have accomplished over the years and applied it to his fight choreography. Worth checking out.
Well Go Entertainment and Saban Films are releasing Last Resort in select theaters on January 06, 2023, and on digital and on demand January 10, 2023.
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