Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire, Kim De Angelo, Stephane Gauger,
Clifford Hugo, Oleg Bernov, Igor Yuzov, Zhenya Kolykhanov , Avi Sills,
1998, 91 Minutes, Directed by: Lance Mungia
Sometimes weirdness and originality in itself aren't enough. Take as example
Six-String Samurai, an obscure low-budget 1998 sci-fi action movie that
gained a bit of minor cult following on the Internet.
The plot goes something like this: In 1957 the Russians nuked America. The entire country except for Lost
Vegas is under Russian rule. Lost Vegas by the way is ruled by the King
himself - Elvis! When Elvis dies 40 years later, several would-be
aspirants trek across the barren Road Warrior-like post-apocalyptic
landscape to succeed him. One of them is Buddy, who bears an uncanny
resemblance to rock-and-roller Buddy Holly and wields a katana (samurai
sword) and a guitar. Death itself (who bears an uncanny resemblance to
Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Slash) is out to get Buddy. "Yield to the
ways of Heavy Metal," Death intones at one point to rub in all the
rock music analogies.
Yup. This is cult country all right. But as with many cult movies,
Six-String Samurai is simply inaccessible to non-followers. It is as if
fans of the movie focus on the plot synopsis and not the movie itself. In
a sense this movie reminded me a lot of another cult "favorite",
namely The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the
The problem is that it is very difficult to emotionally connect with
the material because the characters are reduced to mere archetypes. The
movie's pacing seems off as well: at times the movie seems to be nothing more
than an endless series of sword fight strung together. After an inane
first fifteen minutes or so I was almost put off the whole movie. Luckily
things improved as the movie progressed. However, Six-String Samurai
remains hyper-stylised almost to the deprivation of everything else: plot
characters, you name it.
As one commentator on the IMDB remarked: it is as if the film-makers
decided that having a cool concept was enough and didn't bother with the
rest of the movie. That isn't to say that it is all bad: film geeks
will have a fun time catching all the movie references - anything from
Sergio Leone westerns and the Mad Max movies to
The Wizard of Oz and Highlander. The soundtrack consisting of 1950s style rock songs by a band
calling itself The Red Elvises lends a Pulp Fiction air to proceedings.
There are some funny one-liners and the action scenes are reasonably
staged. But in the end the movie's desperate attempts at cool simply
leaves one cold . . .