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RETRO MOVIE REVIEW: Six String Samurai

RETRO MOVIE REVIEW: Six String Samurai

Release Date September 18th 1998

This rollicking adventure features a surly younger version of Michael Douglas’s character from ‘Falling Down’ and a cross between the feral kid from Mad Max 2 and a young Anakin Skywalker. It was released 19 years ago this month (assuming you are reading this in September 2017) and was for or better or worse passed under the radar of a lot of sci-fi fans.

Our business suited Samurai who apparently goes by the name of ‘Buddy’ has all the parenting skills of Rick Sanchez on a particularly bad day.

Though at least Morty has enough self respect to get royally pissed off when his grandfather Rick is being extra mean, the doe eyed kid in this film just sucks it up and asks for more no matter how hard the ‘hero’ tries to get rid of him.

At one point he even threatens to lop off the poor lad’s teddy bear’s head unless he stops following him!

There is no explanation for their predicament other than a brief text scroll at the beginning of the film which mentions the usual nuclear war that leads to all the post-Apocalyptic landscapes and characters featured in the movie.

You do see how they meet though, which is nothing more elaborate than the titular hero dispatching a marauding band of raiders. Unfortunately, he arrived too late to save the poor kid’s mother but nonetheless, impressed the little urchin enough for him to want to tag along.

It’s not clear where Buddy is going other than the vague notion of getting to ‘Lost Vegas’ and unseating the “Rock’n’Roll king”.

He is being pursued by none other than Death himself though, or at least a rather menacing figure dressed like Slash accompanied by a group of hairy little men who fire arrows badly and cackle hideously.

It’s not clear why he is chasing our hero but thats irrelevant. What does matter is the endless parade of set piece battles involving everything from homicidal bowling teams to half naked dwarf cholo gang members to an entire division of the Russian army.

 

The action is fast, badly edited, schlocky, cheap and VERY entertaining.

Continuity issues abound, such as lighting constantly changing during fight sequences as if its the middle of the day then early evening then back to high noon again.

Still, the imagination that went into both the various characters, sets and weapons is startling. At one point, a villian unleashes a volley of bowling pin swords.

If only the same effort had been put into the dialogue but the less about that the better. It’s almost as if the writer passed the script to his eight year old son and said, ‘Here, have at it!’

At some point, the kid starts speaking in more than grunts and wails, if only to compare the strengths of various fifties cars. Apparently the entire world was nuked at the beginning the 1950’s. The music, wardrobe and much of the set design reflect this.

 

It is so heavily influenced by the Fallout videogame that its actually the name of one of the towns the hapless duo visit.

Okay, so only the first game in the Fallout series had come out by then, almost exactly a year earlier than the film but I guarantee the writer had played it and fans of the game repay this love with Six String related mods added into Fallout 3 and 4.

It’s also heavily influenced by Mad Max, The Wizard of Oz and well, every other post apocalyptic wasteland film ever.

In the end, its an ambitious attempt to synthesis them all into a somewhat original road movie. Even if most of it is spent either walking, passed out from thirst, engaging in slow motion sword fights or bad dialogue.

The attempt might miss the mark but you have to admire the director for trying, the only film of note he made after this was ‘The Crow 4 ‘ with David Boreanz of ‘Angel’ fame.

A movie so bad it ended the franchise.

This however was a lot more watchable, especially if you have a few friends and even more alcohol.

Cue it up on youtube now, its pretty much the only place you will find it unless you feel like hunting down an old VHS copy in an abandoned Blockbuster somewhere in the wasteland of Western Sydney – just don’t forget your guitar.

Available currently only on youtube or your favourite online stores.

About Patrick Hamilton

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