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  Six String Samurai Go Buddy Go
Year: 1998
Director: Lance Mungia
Stars: Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire, Kim De Angelo, Stephane Gauger, Clifford Hugo, Oleg Bernov, Igor Yuzov, Zhenya Kolykhanov, George S. Casillas, Avi Sills, Monti Ellison, Kareem, Richard McGuire, Zuma Jay, Paul Szopa, Lex Lang, Dan Barton, Lora Witty
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Weirdo, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in 1957, the Soviets dropped the atom bomb on the United States and laid waste to the country, with the only true leader for the Americans being the King, Elvis. Now, forty years later, the King has died and the nation needs someone new, but they must travel to his home in the city of Lost Vegas to claim his throne, which is precisely what Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon) is doing now, making his way across blasted desert landscape in pursuit of his prize. However, along the way he encounters a little boy (Justin McGuire) who is fleeing ninjas with his mother and finds he must now mentor the young orphan...

Here was a low budget indie movie like few others, a synthesis of Americana and Far East pop culture which it mixed up together in a post-apocalyptic landscape not unlike the one Mad Max latterly inhabited. Where other indies around this time were trying out their own relationship dramas, or relationship comedies, or even Quentin Tarantino rip-offs, here director Lance Mungia and his star/co-writer Jeffrey Falcon were ploughing their own furrow, which made it a pity they never really followed up on their promise. Mungia, after his feature debut, managed a poorly thought of sequel to The Crow and Falcon, who had enjoyed a minor career in Asian cinema prior to this, never made another film.

At least the fans they might have won over should they have got to follow up Six String Samurai in any meaningful fashion had this to appreciate, and if it did translate from the script to the screen as rather too calculated for cool to an extent that's what it achieved. The influences were not simply namechecked in the dialogue or lifted from other films' scenes to prompt a laugh of recognition from those in the know, but instead had essentially a samurai Buddy Holly acting as if he were in another instalment in the Lone Wolf and Cub series and meeting various ne'erdowells along his journey. They included, as was the nemesis of many a rock star, Death himself who had an small army of shadowy rock 'n' roll swordsmen willing to put themselves on the line to bring Buddy down.

This was as much a tale of discovering and living up to your responsibilities as it was an action flick, so each time the would-be lone hero finds someone to leave the kid with, he has to rescue him from his bad choices, be they a cannibal family or a couple of crazed astronauts (complete with spacesuits). By the point the little guy has been kidnapped by the "spinach monster" of his nightmares Buddy realises that the children are our future or something similar and actively sets out to save him, suggesting he has found the moral fortitude to be worthy of the throne of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. But this wasn't a case of sitting the audience down for a good talking to because they'd be asking questions about what they'd learned come the end credits roll.

That's because more of Six String Samurai was simply about what would look cool on the screen, with Buddy's guitar his most precious possession aside from his sword, meaning he spent as much time protecting it as he did the kid - Death in particular wants to get his hands on it. The combat sequences were nicely handled, evidently Falcon putting what he had learned in the East to good use, and if anything the film could have done with more of them, preferring to stylishly film the variety of eccentric characters on the trek instead. They included rockabilly band and soundtrack providers The Red Elvises, who were not unlike The Leningrad Cowboys, and what appeared to be a gang of cavemen proving remarkably persistent in their pursuit of the unlikely duo. If this did, finally, appear to be an exercise in manufactured cool, there was a fair amount that the filmmakers succeeded in as it moved towards a cathartic ending which apparently referenced both The Wizard of Oz and the Biblical Moses. It was that sort of movie.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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