Six-String Samurai film poster
|Directed by||Lance Mungia|
|Produced by||Michael Burns
|Written by||Jeffrey Falcon
|Music by||Red Elvises
|Editing by||James Frisa|
|Distributed by||Palm Pictures|
|Running time||91 min|
|Budget||$2 million USD|
Six-String Samurai is a 1998 post-apocalyptic action/comedy film directed by Lance Mungia. Brian Tyler composed the score for this film along with the Red Elvises, the latter providing the majority of the soundtrack.
Six-String Samurai was greeted with a great deal of excitement when shown at Slamdance in 1998, winning the Slamdance awards for best editing and cinematography, and gathering extremely favorable reviews from influential alternative, cult and indie film publications such as Fangoria, Film Threat and Ain't It Cool News. It is billed as a "post-apocalyptic musical satire".
In a limited theatrical release the film ran for several months in a few theaters, gaining a reputation as a minor cult film; having a budget of $2,000,000, it only made a mere $124,494 at the box offices. An intended trilogy has been discussed but not yet realized, just like the predicted launching of the career of the film's star, Jeffrey Falcon, a martial artist who had appeared in several Hong Kong action movies in the 1980s and early 1990s. While Mungia made several music videos, he did not direct another feature until the 2005 film The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
Six-String Samurai is set in an alternate history America, in which Soviet Union attacked the U.S. with nuclear weapons in 1957, making most of the country an inhospitable desert. The government has entirely collapsed, except for the Kingdom of Elvis, who rules from "Lost Vegas" to California. The Red Army has been besieging Vegas, but the lack of supplies ("We haven't had bullets since 1957," comments a Russian general) from the Soviet Union has caused them to degenerate into just another gang. As the movie begins, Elvis has died and a radio disc jockey Keith Mortimer announces a call for all musicians to come to Lost Vegas to try to become the new King of Rock'n'Roll.
Buddy, implied to be the rock 'n roll legend Buddy Holly (Due to his physical similarities and musical ability), is one of the musicians converging on Lost Vegas. Early on, he finds himself having to take care of a kid named "Kid" (Justin McGuire). While Buddy resents having to look after the Kid, the Kid turns out to be a good ally.
Buddy runs into a lot of different groups, including a zombie-like, cannibalistic suburban family, 'windmill people' who are dressed like astronauts and filthy tribals that make up most of the population. He also combats many foes, including a samurai, a bowling team of bounty-hunters, a Russian surf band (played by the Red Elvises), and the Russian army. Throughout his journey, Buddy is stalked by his greatest foe: a sinister Slash look-alike who is the personification of the Grim Reaper, and his grungy group of guitarists/archers; Death's goal is to eliminate all the King-wannabes and the conquest of Vegas.
Opening sequence distortion
The opening sequence has an intentionally distorted visual effect. The de-anamorphic visuals are a subtle "tribute" to the Chinese martial arts films (notably the films by Shaw Brothers) that often had their wide-screen opening sequences compressed to the 1.33:1 format of TV screens for VHS release.
Throughout the film there are homages to many major musical movements in the United States. Buddy, the main character, is a symbol of the birth of rock 'n' roll. He shares the same clothing style of Buddy Holly, especially his horn-rimmed glasses.
During the film "Death", who resembles Slash from Guns N' Roses, kills a character representing Jerry Lee Lewis. Death also dispatches a mariachi band and another musician dressed country western style. His minions also torment a traveller dressed in hip hop fashion. Buddy also has a duel with a musician (wielding a ukulele) resembling Richie Valens, who died in the same 1959 plane crash as the original Buddy Holly. Death also kills rock music, through the death of Buddy.
However, the last scene shows the child donning Buddy's clothing. Suggesting that though rock‘n roll is dead, there is still hope for the future.
The film also has references to the Wizard of Oz, loosely imitating the 1939 movie. A little person instructs Buddy to "follow the yellow brick road". Lost Vegas, seen from the distance, looks like the Emerald City. Death is obsessed with a specific object, Buddy's guitar pick, much like the Wicked Witch trying to get Dorothy's red slippers. Finally, Death is killed when sprayed with water, as was the Wicked Witch. When Buddy dies, his body disappears, leaving only his clothes for the kid to take, again like the Wicked Witch.
Six String Samurai comic
In September, 1998, a single Six String Samurai comic was released from Rob Liefeld's Awesome Entertainment. Written by Matt Hawkins and Rob Liefeld, it featured art by 'Awesome' artists Dan Fraga and John Stinsman. A continuation rather than an adaptation, the plot summary from the comic is as follows:
- "In this alternate universe, in 1957 the Russians took the United States by nuclear force. Only one piece of the American frontier remained free, a patch of land known as Lost Vegas. Through this desert wasteland wanders the “six string samurai,” a latter-day Buddy Holly who handles a guitar or a sword with equal skill. He’s a man on a collision course with destiny: It seems that King Elvis, who ruled over the land of Vegas for forty years, has finally taken his last curtain call and the throne now stands empty. But it’s a rough road to the big city and the body count is likely to be high, as demonstrated in this postapocalyptic future with a beat we can dance to."
- In the RPG Fallout: New Vegas, an achievement called "New Vegas Samurai" is available with an image based on Six String Samurai's movie poster.
- The movie itself mentions a town called "Fallout", which is located 200 miles from Vegas.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
|Soundtrack album by Red Elvises|
|Released||August 25, 1998|
|Red Elvises chronology|
Six-String Samurai: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the original soundtrack to the film; the soundtrack was released by Rykodisc on August 25, 1998.
- United States of Russia (Red Elvises)
- Love Pipe (Red Elvises)
- A Mother's Hand/Buddy*
- Fly Away Little Butterfly*
- Kill 200 Men (Dialogue)
- Boogie on the Beach (Red Elvises)
- I Do Not Like Rock & Roll (Dialogue)
- Hungarian Dance #5 (Red Elvises)
- Arrowed Kid/Bowlers on the Floor (Dialogue)
- Rock & Rolling Ourselves to Death (Dialogue)/Jerry's Got the Squeeze Box (Red Elvises)
- Lonely Highway of Love (Dialogue)/Scorchi Chornie (Red Elvises)
- My Darling Lorraine (Red Elvises)
- Follow the Yellow Brick Road(Dialogue)/Leech (Red Elvises)
- See You Around Kid (Dialogue)/Siberia (Red Elvises)
- Good Golly Miss Molly (Red Elvises)
- My Love Is Killing Me (Red Elvises)
- Sacred Funeral*
- Relentless Sun*
- Over the Hill*
- Bring His Guitar to Me(Dialogue)/Sahara Burn*
- A Boy and His Spirit*
- If You Were Me, You'd Be Good-Looking (Dialogue)/Surfing in Siberia (Red Elvises)
- Draggin a Fallen Hero*
- Nice Tuxedo (Dialogue)/Showdown at Not Okay Corral*
- Bend Before the Ways of Heavy Metal (Dialogue)/Dueling Guitars*
- Dream March*
- The Great Battle*
- End of a Hero/Finale*
- On My Way to Vegas*
(*) indicates original score by Brian Tyler
- Martell, William (2004). "GREENLIGHT Indie Screenwriting - Screenwriting article by William C. Martell". Script Secrets. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Gore, Chris (1998-01-26). "SIX-STRING SAMURAI". Film Threat. Retrieved 2006-09-03.
- World / Independent Film - Review: Six-String Samurai by Jurgen Fauth & Marcy Dermansky. About.com. Retrieved on 2-6-2010.
- Atomic Avenue: "Six String Samurai". Accessed 1 February 2008