Directed by Lance Mungia. Starring Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire.
It's movie week on the Computerbank, and what better film to start with than this?
A potent blend of Max Mad, Lone Wolf and Cub, 'fifties rock n roll and general surrealism, Six String Samurai is one of those movies so outrageous in both concept and execution that the only proper response is to cry Hallelujah!
In an alternative America, nuked and conquered by the Russians in 1957, the only bastion of freedom is the city of Lost Vegas, ruled for the past 40 years by King Elvis But now the King is dead and the throne needs a new occupant, bringing every sword swingin', guitar pickin' opportunist across the Nevada badlands eager to get their hands on the kingdom.
Among them is Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon), a bespectacled musician/latterday ronin, and even Death himself (Stephane Gauger although voiced by Lex Lang) manifested as nothing less than an avatar of Slash, complete with top hat, guitar and heavy metal sidekicks. Essentially a picaresque tale of swordfights and freaks as Buddy finds himself saddled with a young orphan boy (Justin McGuire), trailed by Death and hunted by all and sundry for his 1957 cherry-red Gibson guitar. Unfortunately for both all and sundry – including the Red Elvises, the Windmill People and the Pin Pals (three psycho bowlers, in case you were wondering) – Buddy is equally adept with a sword as he is with a guitar.
Shamelessly borrowing from any number westerns and Samurai movies (although most notably from the aforementioned Lone Wolf and Cub series even down to the every popular 'one man takes on an army sequence) as well as a cheeky nod to the cantina sequence in Star Wars, Six String Samurai is a movie that very much wears its influences on it sleeve.
Belying its low budget limitations with verve, wit and imagination, making good use of its desert locations, (something it has in common with Ryuhei Kitamura's equally demented Versus) Six String Samurai is most definitely one of those 'love it or loathe it' kind of films (for the record, I loved it).
Of particular note is the soundtrack by Brian Tyler (who performed similar duties on the alt-Elvis classic Bubba Ho-Tep) and the previously mentioned Red Elvises, creating a future-retro rock n roll that gives the movie a jaunty energy even in its darkest moments. Added to this is the wise approach of director Lance Mungia who's 'what you don't see won't disappoint you' attitude pays dividends more often than not (most notably in the scenes featuring the God of the Windmill People and, later, the disappearance of Death's henchmen/ backing band)
Although the ending of Six String Samurai falls into something of a metaphysical muddle (or to put it another way, it doesn't really make all that much sense) the film itself is a fun ride as long as you keep an open mind. A bigger budget might have been nice, of course, but sometimes you just have to work with what you've got – something that Six String Samurai does with aplomb.