Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Six String Samurai

By Devin D. O'Leary

MARCH 15, 1999:  I'll admit right off the bat that I'm predisposed toward any film with a post-apocalyptic setting. Ever since I saw George Miller's The Road Warrior (still the finest action flick ever lensed) at a drive-in theater in 1982, I've been a connoisseur of post-nuke pics. I can philosophize over the sociological import of early end-of-the-world sagas like The World, The Flesh and the Devil just as easily as I can appreciate the cheese appeal of cheap Italian Road Warrior rip-offs like Warriors of the Wasteland. It is with great pleasure, then, that I'm able to announce the arrival of the newest post-apocalyptic flick to explode onto movie screens in many a moon. I'm not counting Kevin Costner's last two sci-fi films, of course, because--hey--even I have my standards.

Six-String Samurai is the ultra-low-budget work of writer/ director Lance Mungia and writer/ production designer/stunt coordinator/star Jeffrey Falcon. Mungia and Falcon set out to make this crazed post-apocalyptic, rock and roll fairy tale on a borrowed 35mm camera and some 25,000 feet of expired Fuji film stock. After months of sweating out a guerrilla film shoot in the heart of Death Valley, the duo secured an agent, some financing and a distro deal and were able to complete the feature film their addled minds had envisioned. The result is a patchwork assemblage of samurai films, post-nuke action flicks and all-out rock and roll fantasy.

Back in 1957, as the film's pre-credit crawl informs us, the Russians attacked and nuked us all back to the stone age. The only city to escape major destruction or Russian occupation was Las Vegas. No less than Elvis Presley was crowned king and ruled the kingdom of "Lost Vegas" for a benevolent 40 years. But it's 1997 now, and Elvis has died. The resulting power vacuum means every guitar-slingin', sword-swingin' warrior in the wasteland is converging on Vegas to claim Big E's crown.

Into this bloody conflict wanders oddball mythic hero Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon), a bad-ass Buddy Holly clone with a hollow body six-string on his back and a samurai sword in his hand. On the road to Vegas, Buddy saves a young orphan boy from some bloodthirsty bandits and suddenly finds himself saddled with a new sidekick. Amid his growing paternal instincts, our anti-hero must contend with assorted deadly threats, including his ultimate nemesis, Death--a faceless, heavy metal sword swinger with a very bad attitude.

From this loose plotline, the filmmakers string a series of impressive action sequences in which our tuxedo-sporting hero hacks his way to Vegas--contending with everything from bounty-hunting bowlers to the cannibalistic Cleaver family to half the Russian Army. As a director, Mungia wears his influences on his sleeve. Aside from its obvious precursors in The Road Warrior and the Spaghetti Western films of Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), Six-String Samurai borrows much of his style from the balletic Japanese sword sagas of the late '60s and early '70s. Kenji Misumi's monumental Lone Wolf and Cub series about a rogue samurai wandering the countryside with his infant son is a major influence--particularly in the lensing of Six-String's stylish opening massacre. Toss in elements from El Topo, Johnny Guitar and The Wizard of Oz and you've got a film that's less slavish regurgitation and more eye-popping, post-modern pastiche.

Six-String Samurai is obviously a low-budget work. Editing, continuity and sound suffer the most from a lack of resources, but the filmmakers have done an admirable job of covering up for their shortfalls. Mungia knows how to sling a camera, and the way he shoots his action sequences displays an impeccable sense of timing. It's hard to pick out faults when the slam-bang energy never lets up for more than a minute at a stretch. The strongest asset on display is star Jeffrey Falcon, who both walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to some impressive martial arts action. Watching Buddy go toe-to-toe with Death himself is a kinetic thrill sequence worthy of some of the Far East's best.

Obviously geared toward underground cult audiences, Six-String Samurai is packed with quirky visuals and a clever, campy sense of humor. The soundtrack--courtesy of Russian-born rock 'n' roll surfers, The Red Elvises--fits the bizarre mood to a T. If you're looking for the next Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) or Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) to claw his way out of the underground, look no further than Lance Mungia and his post-apocalyptic pop star.

Weekly Wire Suggested Links

Page Back Last Issue Current Issue Next Issue Page Forward

Film & TV: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Cover . News . Film . Music . Arts . Books . Comics . Search

Weekly Wire    © 1995-99 DesertNet, LLC . Weekly Alibi . Info Booth . Powered by Dispatch