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IN SHORT: Gorgeous visuals and decent martial arts moves are not enough to make an interesting movie.
If any of you out there had an idea that Don McLean's song "American Pie" would make a good movie (forgetting for a moment that it's a tale based on rock n' roll history, the cornerstone of which has already been filmed as The Buddy Holly Story) you're too late. It's been done . . . with one minor change.
The year is 1999, forty years after the Russians dropped the bomb and wiped out all civilized America. This left Las Vegas, renamed Lost Vegas, as the equivalent of Fantasyland, where four decades of rock n' rule, under the guiding hand of The King -- Elvis, of course, has ended with the King's death. The Werewolf on the radio, sounding remarkably like the late Wolfman Jack, sent forth a cry across the deserts and the dead valleys, for a new King to come forth and lead the people. The would be bopsters and rock 'n' rollers rose in the desert and began their pilgrimage.
The biggest challenge is that all the rockers seeking to reach the Kingdom's heart are slaughtered by a quartet called Death. Death seeks to overturn History and replace the solo king with a band. But out of the wastes come Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon), carrying a 1956 hollow bodied guitar with a sword duct taped to its back. Following behind him like a lost puppy is The Kid (Justin McGuire) orphaned when Death shot his mother in the back with an arrow. Buddy, as in Holly, doesn't like The Kid; he doesn't like kids in general. But there's something about this one that makes him feel protective; that makes him come back to protect the kid from radioactive cavemen, windmill worshipers, and the hordes of Hell.
Six String Samurai sounds like a great idea, right? It would be a great story to pitch for the men and women in Armani suits who could supply enough of a budget that director/ writer Lance Mungia could have written dialog and, perhaps, made this thing more than just visually interesting. I eagerly await his big budget remake, 'cuz the idea is just too good and his visual sense is even better. Given the right amount of money, this thing could've been a contender.
Six-String Samurai is a film that should be seen by every aspiring film maker at every film school that is. The reason is simple: the results of this low budget undertaking will absolutely intimidate half to three-quarters of you all and Cranky would never have to spend agonizing hours in the dark sitting through projects that should have been aborted early on. Then again, a good hunk of y'all would probably be inspired to go out and try to do it themselves, which would subject Cranky and his fellow reviewers to more of the same kind of visually fulfilling flicks with a story idea and no script, filmed without sound so all the details can be dubbed in later.
Eighty one minutes can be a long time when you have to fill in everything later.
With a soundtrack that sounds like it came from Pulp Fiction, Six-String Samurai lifts ideas and images from movies like Karate Kid, The Wizard of Oz, Shane and comics like Neil Gaiman's The Sandman and the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Six-String Samurai, he would have paid . . .
Rent it. On the more
positive side, Mungia's direction shows a great eye. That he got this
flick together and made it look so good on so little money is a credit
to him and co-producer/star Jeffrey Falcon. But visuals are not enough.
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