STARRING: Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire, Kim De Angelo, Stephane Gauger, Clifford Hugo, Oleg Bernov, Igor Yuzov, Zhenya Kolykhanov , Avi Sills, Monti Ellison

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 Eighth Dimension.

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 . . .



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