- Directed by Lance Mungia
In 1957 a nuclear war devastated the Earth. Elvis became king of Lost Vegas and now the king is dead. Long live the king!
Six-String Samurai is a weird mash up of martial arts and science fiction with a heavy dose of Western thrown in as well. Our main character of Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon) who is stylized to look like legendary rocker Buddy Holly is a mysterious stranger walking across the wastelands of America to Lost Vegas (previously Las Vegas) now that King Elvis is dead.
Buddy’s appearance is a little on the nose. It is not a casual similarity, but Falcon could have won a lookalike contest. This goes to so much in the film. They make it feel like something stopped the world and here that something was an atomic bomb.
This film was done on a budget, but it doesn’t look exceedingly cheap or just plain cheap. They get the most out of what they have to work with here. Six-String Samurai has a style all its own in that way. Unusual camera angles and other interesting techniques as well as the sets and costumes give this a look all its own. The film also sticks with a 1950s aesthetic. They do a pretty good job of not letting anything modern slip into the movie.
And even though the story is weird it is very interesting. Though it starts off slow with the death of the mother of Buddy’s eventual mostly silent travelling companion the Kid (Justin McGuire), it rapidly picks up speed and keeps a brisk and steady pace until the finale.
Buddy and the Kid are stalked throughout by Death (Stephane Gauger performing/Lex Lang as the voice) who also seeks the throne of Lost Vegas. Why is not made clear though obviously Death getting the throne anywhere cannot be a good thing. Death is stylized after Slash from GnR but is not the only such character besides Buddy in such a way. We have a character looking like Jerry Lee Lewis, another musician dressed in Western style for Country music, and a character resembling Ritchie Valens. And the Red Elvises not only composed some of the music here but are featured early on in the story.
This is a brief film (around 90 minutes) but it feels shorter than that for some reason. Probably because there’s no point that it really slows down. Everything just keeps moving and moving. One thing that bothers me are stories that do not have elements in the narrative that build towards the end. Often they feel like separate smaller films pieced together into one long film. Things build to the end of that particular narrative/section and then start again and build and they never really click. This film is like that, but it doesn’t feel like each individual narrative is a shorter smaller film. Perhaps because everything just keeps moving and there’s no point where the story really slows.
The encounter with the Kid is separate from the encounter with the cannibalistic Cleaver Family to the encounter with the Russian Army and so forth yet the film does it feel like it stops and starts up again at any point. The link between everything is very strong.
Six-String Samurai is an obscure, probably little seen film. I have never seen this broadcast anywhere and I am uncertain if it’s even available on a streaming service. I discovered it at some point after its release meandering around a video store. I was intrigued by the cassette art and the title. To get up on a soapbox but the loss of video rental stores where you can go in and look around is a sad thing. It limits the ability to stumble across something that you really enjoy that you would otherwise never have encountered.
With an interesting story and unique presentation Six-String Samurai is a great film. If you are looking for something different with a tinge of the unique, I highly recommend this!