Macho action movie nostalgia returns with a vengeance next year, when Arnold Schwarzenegger emerges from semi-retirement and becomes a leading man once more. The famous Austrian kicks things off with The Last Stand – his tongue planted firmly in cheek – before getting more serious in the prison escape thriller The Tomb, which (re)pairs “Ahnuld” with fellow aging screen titan Sly Stallone.

Last Stand is the Hollywood debut of Korean director Jee-woon Kim, working from a screenplay written by newcomer Andrew Knauer. The cast includes Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander (Thor: The Dark World), Rodrigo Santoro (300), Luis Guzmán (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) and Peter Stormare (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters).

Story-wise, the film revolves around Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger), a crusty sheriff (with a dark past) who represents the law in a sparsely-populated Mexican border town. However, trouble comes a knockin’ when a major drug cartel head (Santoro) stages a mind-boggling courthouse escape and takes off for the border, armed with hostages, thugs, and a vehicle equipped to obliterate everything in its path. Thus, Ray assembles his inexperienced staff – and one over-eager local (Knoxville) – for the impending showdown.

As illustrated by the new trailer, Last Stand offers all the cheese and ham one can expect from this sort of high-octane action/thriller; fortunately, Kim and his cast appear to be in on the joke. After all, when the script calls for Whitaker to wear a grave expression while uttering lines about ‘psychopaths in Batmobiles’ – or for Schwarzenegger to be believable as someone named ‘Ray Owens’ – it ought to be abundantly clear exactly what sort of movie you’re making (and how to roll with it).

Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Last Stand’

Kim is known for his filmmaking ingenuity, whether it concerns telling a disturbing and nihilistic tale of revenge (I Saw the Devil) or creating a comically off-beat, hyper-kinetic salute to the western genre (The Good, the Bad, the Weird). That he is calling the shots on Last Stand provides more reason to check the film out, even if you’re among those who are less-enthused about Schwarzenegger returning to the limelight.

Of course, those hoping to see a grittier (and less jokey) Arnold in action might want to hold out until either The Tomb or David Ayer’s dirty DEA agent thriller Ten reaches theaters; not to mention, the developing Conan the Barbarian sequel, The Legend of Conan.

The Last Stand opens in U.S. theaters on January 18th, 2013.