Six-String Samurai/B.B
Palm/1998/91M/WS 1.85

     It's outrageous, inventive, often very entertaining, but Six-String Samurai is really not much more than an extended music video. To it's credit, it doesn't wear thin and retains vitality all the way on the road to Lost Vegas.
     In this derivative vision of a post apocalyptic world, Lost Vegas (sic) in the center of the universe. In Vegas, a new "king" is about to be crowned in a "string out" guitar competition. It's a long road to Vegas, but Buddy, the guitar picking sword swinging samurai of the title is determined to cut a swath through the desert with all the cool of Toshiro Mifune, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood rolled into his gaunt frame. Buddy, who can't resist playing hero, saves a The Kid along the road, and then, Kid sticks with Buddy like gum on a shoe. Buddy deals with the Kid and the villains with varying degrees of success. 

Buddy takes on the bowlers in one of many confrontations on the road to Lost Vegas. ©Palm

      The allusions to classic cinema are not subtle. My God, there's even a midget incanting Follow the Yellow Brick Road. I love the fact that Lost Vegas looks just like the Emerald City a lot more than the midget's advice. Then there the questions of several vehicles and the look of these survivors of the doomsday bomb. Do you think the creative talents here had a look or two at the Max Mad films. Did I detect some Abbey Road compositions? Is Buddy a man with no name? With Star Wars references and sit-com stabs, Six-String Samurai moves on and on to Lost Vegas.
     Director Lance Mungia does a good job of making Six-String Samurai a non stop sword fest. The script, by Mungia and star Jeffrey Falcon,  leaves little room for anything but action, but comic tone is often silly enough to conjure up smiles. The desert compositions of cinematographer Kristian Bernier are quite fabulous. I would mind an apocalyptic book of stills from Six-String Samurai. And the music is a rollicking upbeat accompaniment to the carnage.
     Some aspects of the look of Six- String Samurai I just don't get. In the opening sequence, director Mungia opts for some twisted camera optical effects, compressing the image almost like an anamorphic transfer. I admit, I was confused enough to try changing the aspect ratio on my set-up. What was the point? I didn't get it and it only distracted me from the hyper sword play and inventive leaps of Buddy, the guitar toting samurai sword master making his way to compete for the throne of Lost Vegas. The carnage on the road to Lost Vegas serves as a metaphor for all those lost careers trying to make it to the big time.
     Jeffrey Falcon is pretty cool as Buddy. This guy must be trained as a dancer. Or a high hurdler at least. His moves, emphasized in quick cuts or slow motion photography, are the hypnotic force on which Six-String Samurai gracefully pivots. Falcon manages to define his own unique brand of desert élan despite the overused cinema allusions.   Young Justin McGuire, playing The Kid is simply out of his league. Lacking charm or precocity, McGuire's lack of screen presence is constantly baffling.
     The DVD looks pretty good in most scenes, with only a few segments suffering from slightly soft focus. Desert colors are appropriately warm and the sandy compositions are not too grainy. Few NTSC artifacts disturb the cool of the samurai and his blade cuts the screen with no digital break-up. The Dolby Digital 5:1 surround is alive with the swoosh of the "Four-Eyes" samurai's blade. Two music videos are included in the package as well as the theatrical trailer.






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