DVD Review: Jeff Bridges is THE LAST AMERICAN HERO!

What do you get when you cross Southern Hillbillies and fast cars? You get The Last American Hero, a film about NASCAR and demolition derbies but little else.

The Last American Hero, a film about NASCAR and demolition derbies but little else. Released today on DVD for the first time, check out our review below€ Elroy €˜Junior€™ Jackson (Jeff Bridges) is a kid full of attitude who helps his bootlegger father transport their homemade booze. When Junior crashes into a police blockade, they arrest his father who is looking at a lengthy prison stretch. Junior must raise some fast cash to get him released and hits the demolition derby circuit. His natural skill behind the wheel sees him swiftly move on to stock car racing where he meets a promoter (Ned Beatty) and finally gets the chance to make it big on the famous NASCAR circuit€ It€™s quite easy to see why The Last American Hero hasn€™t been previously released on DVD and why it hasn€™t been upgraded to a Bluray one today as well. Essentially it€™s an unmotivated film: yes, even though Jackson races to get his father out of prison, there really isn€™t a gripping antagonist to challenge him as his arrogance when it comes to driving is unfaltering. It€™s essentially a film that lacks any depth or desire to move past the simple underdog nature of the narrative, which is hard to stomach when the screenplay is based on a series of Esquire magazine articles written by the acclaimed author Tom Wolfe. This means that it€™s generally a rather dull film to watch with little more than a desire to stick to standard genre tropes in its depiction of both Jackson and the wider plot, leaving audiences with very little to emotionally invest in. Whilst this is in essence the case, there are a number of race sequences that are worth seeking out even if you don€™t bother with the rest of the filler! Director Lamont Johnson literally straps cameras to the front of cars during the demolition derby scenes, literally placing viewers in the heart of the action. For these few intense moments of edge of your seat cinema €“ it€™s no exaggeration to say that audiences will literally find themselves attempting to strap themselves into their sofas! - The Last American Hero is worth a watch. Very much a product of its 1970s roots, the film is not likely to appeal to a wide array of contemporary audiences, instead looking incredibly dated and rather amateur to the majority. The performances of the main cast are suitably gung ho, embodying a unique sense of Southern American gumption that particularly encourages Jackson to elevate himself out of his desperate hillbilly roots and into the limelight of NASCAR racing. Bridges plays Jackson with a relative charm, although his self-confidence from the opening of the film to the close certainly teeters on the brink of being annoying. Arrogance is all well and good, but Bridges would have probably benefitted from playing Jackson a little more humbly as he embarks on his racing career. Whilst The Last American Hero is far from the calibre of Bridges later work, his abilities to embody a character are certainly evident and he is extremely accomplished in his role. The only other notable performance is that of Ned Beatty, who manages to encapsulate every fibre of his NASCAR promoter role in a way that is rarely seen in such small-scale productions. Support from Gary Busey, Valerie Perrine and Geraldine Fitzgerald is solid and they help to make the film a distinctly American one. QUALITY The Last American Hero is released with a relatively sound picture quality, with bright colours and generally sharp images. The film is predominantly free from excessive grain or blemishes, but it can€™t help but look distinctly 70s with its frightfully garish colour palette. Audio quality is more proficient, with dialogue always clear and free from distortion. The race scenes are suitably loud and powerful, again placing audiences in the centre of the action and making the experience feel as real as could possibly be achieved. EXTRAS The Last American Hero does not come with any bonus material. The Last American Hero is out now on DVD.

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