Add 1/4 star if: you are a fan of The Red Elvises.
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Am I excited about my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World? Why is it that when this time of year rolls around, when the Big Empire Buddies Cocktail Soiree looms large on the calendar, all I can think about is that mythic city? Just a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist watching Ocean's 11 to get a flavor of the City of Sin. That film was set in Vegas's past when the Flamingo looked like a Denny's at Christmastime and the Dunes was more than a memory.
Six-String Samuri is also set in Las Vegas, but a future Vegas in a reality as unlikely as a return to a Flamingo that looks like a Denny's at Christmastime. In the reality of this work, the Cold War ended a little differently, with The United Soviet Socialist Republics bombing the holy kishkas out of the US. The only city to survive as a bastion of US democracy and freedom is--of course--Las Vegas.
Tragic, yes, but on the silver lining of this fictional world is an Elvis Presley who made it to Vegas to rule as The King until his death of old age. We can only fantasize about the songs he would have written. Maybe he'd have even gotten thin again.
The denizens of this dusty, Mad Max world appear to comprise a few distinct classes. Barbarians seem to be in the majority. They go grunting around the countryside wielding sticks and driving jalopies. Industrials can actually speak some common language reminiscent of American, and tend to live sedentary lives in mostly destroyed edifices. Russian Soldiers patrol the countryside, but fortunately for our hero, they ran out of bullets long ago.
And our hero? He belongs to the Rock and Roll Samurai class. These bardic nomads are all on the way to L.V. to vie for the rock and roll throne. They're drawn on by the radio voice of Wolfman Jack (impersonated). Our hero, named Buddy, played by Jeffrey Falcon, looks a little like a scruffy Mr. Holly and is reputed to be as hot a fighter as he is a musician.
If he's even half as good as his reputation, he'd be pretty good indeed. He's astounding-so astounding that his fight scenes are abbreviated with tight shots, slo-mos and fast cuts, implying that his deadly moves are far to quick for a camera to follow. His music is good--every bit as good as The Red Elvises, who also appear in the film and who did much of the soundtrack.
Buddy travels to Vegas and gets in scrape after scrape. The threads that hold the picaresque together are his growing love for an orphan boy and his culminating fight with death. The orphan boy begins as a troublesome tot he can't seem to shake, but as the boy proves himself a valuable companion, Buddy concedes more and more to having him along. And when the boy demonstrates some true soul, Buddy chooses to protect and care for the lad.
Meanwhile, Death, a skull-headed figure in a rock band that represents both the Apocalypse and Heavy Metal, stalks the countryside, killing every other rocker headed to Vegas. At last he and Buddy have a rock 'n' roll showdown, with hot guitar, mad kung fu, and the boy in the middle.
Some high points of this movie are seeing The Red Elvises who don't just play their usual bitchin' rock-a-billy, but who are also given ample opportunity to act. They don't do it well, per se, but it's plenty entertaining.
As pure escapist fantasy, it's a fun flick. It certainly won't rock your
world unless you live on a world made of gelatin. As a Vegas film, it's
not worth it as the city doesn't even have a decent cameo. It makes its
9-1/2 stars mainly on the originality of its story and its soundtrack that's
full of hot licks.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.