Six-string Samurai

on September 18, 1998 by Wade Major
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   Handsomely filmed in 35mm on a reported shoestring budget of less than $50,000, this one-time Loyola University thesis film project aims squarely for the cult/midnight movie crowd, delivering a decidedly mixed bag of camp comedy and Hong Kong style action that is ultimately too tedious and self-consciously cute to impress fans of either.
   The slight story centers on a rock musician/martial arts master named Buddy (co-writer/co-producer/action director/production designer Jeffrey Falcon)--equal parts Buddy Holly, Mad Max and Sanjuro Kuwabatake--as he treks across the desert to claim the throne of the recently deceased King of Lost Vegas, Elvis Presley. Along the way he must run a neverending gauntlet of post-Holocaust weirdos (bounty hunting bowlers, windmill people, cannibalistic suburbanites and the Russian army to name a few), all the while coping with a pesky tag-along kid (Justin McGuire) and trying to stay one step ahead of guitar-toting Death (Stephane Gauger) and his three henchmen (picture a second-string Guns N' Roses).
   Given the handicaps of this kind of low-budget filmmaking, it's hard to find fault with the film's production values, in spite of what is expected to pass for writing. Kristian Bernier's cinematography is especially impressive, as are many of the action scenes, surprisingly well-staged by Falcon, an experienced martial artist and veteran of Hong Kong films. Precisely where director/co-writer Lance Mungia's skills pick up and those of Falcon and Bernier's leave off isn't always clear, as seems to be the case with just about everything else in the film.
   A bonus for alternative and surf music fans is the film's soundtrack, featuring music by guitarist Brian Tyler and The Red Elvises, who also appear briefly.    Starring Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire and Stephane Gauger. Directed by Lance Mungia. Written by Lance Mungia & Jeffrey Falcon. Produced by Michael Burns & Leanna Creel. A Palm release. SF/Fantasy/Comedy. Rated PG-13 for martial arts and swordfight violence. Running time: 92 min.
Tags: Jeffrey Falcon, Produced by Michael Burns, Leanna Creel, Palm, Science Fiction, Justin McGuire, Stephane Gauger. Directed by Lance Mungia. Written by Lance Mungia
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