Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review: Six-String Samurai (1998)

Okay, this is pushing the deadline, I know.  But technically, I’m writing this on November 30th, so it's still my November column.  

This month’s column is about the movie, Six-String Samurai, directed by Lance Mungia. I first saw it at the Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa in 1998, when I dragged my then-girlfriend to see it.  I don’t think she much appreciated it; but I certainly thought the mixture of alternate history/post-apocalyptic/50’s rock-and-roll/samurai film appealing.  

A little background here: Six-String Samurai takes place in a world where the Soviet Union clobbered the United States in a nuclear first strike back in 1957.  It is now present day, where the country has been reduced to a wasteland populated by bandits, cannibals, mutants, and the remnants of the Red Army that was sent over after the war.  All that remains is Lost Vegas, which has been ruled over by King Elvis.  But now the King is dead and Lost Vegas needs a new King of Rock and Roll. And so the word goes out and musicians across the land begin the dangerous trek to Lost Vegas for the chance to replace their fallen king. 

Already you can probably see why I liked this film so much and why my girlfriend didn’t.

I digress. Enter Buddy (played by Jeffery Falcon), who plays a mean guitar and swings an even meaner sword, is the titular Samurai of the film. He’s a cross between Toshiro Mifune and Buddy Holly. On his way to Lost Vegas, Buddy must cross the barren landscape with a small boy in tow, fending off attacks by bounty hunting bowlers and Death. All of this is powered by a kick-ass soundtrack that surely must make the guitar gods and the spirit of Akira Kurosawa smile.

It’s really worth seeing.  Over the years, Six-String Samurai has developed a “cult” reputation, as many films that are “out there” seem to do. And that’s really too bad. It’s a disservice to label Six-String Samurai and other films like it as “cult” films, just because there’s no neat slot in the public imagination for them. 

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.   Thanks.

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