The Austin Chronicle

Unstrung But Not Unsung

By Harry Knowles, September 18, 1998, Screens

Six-String Samurai... what can I say? There are certain moments in life when you know, right then, that you were meant to be in a place at a time with certain people to experience that which lies before you. I was meant to see Six-String Samurai at its last showing at SXSW this past March.

My dealings with this film began a few months before Sundance and Slamdance last January. On my Ain't It Cool News Web site I had previously run an ejaculatory review of a flick called Six-String Samurai. It could have been a plant, but no mere suit could write such a spasm, it came from someone pure who doesn't see a darker pay slave in a mirror, it came from a geek, a film geek to be specific.

I went to Sundance and was swamped by media. I would do my updates from the Media Center via my laptop; it was the first time I went abroad to file reports. I felt like Edward R. Murrow in blitzkrieg London impacted by V2 rockets carrying spools of unseen film. I typed faster, each keystroke a breath of air.

This geek comes to my shoulder and hands me the first flier for Six-String Samurai. He tells me, "Harr, haar, Harrrrieeeeeeee, yuh yuh half ta seeeee it!!!" There was that fevered look of Peter Lorre insanity in his eyes, "Riiick, yuuuuu half tuu hiiiiiide meeee!!!"

I looked at the flyer, it looked like a bad movie, a pale two-bit piece of crap ripoff of El Mariachi and Road Warrior. Another geek, I assumed, campaigned me for about five minutes to see the film. It turns out it was Lance Mungia, the director.

Months flip by to SXSW, and I miss the first two screenings. Japanese Television is trapping me in my house, trying to get me to miss the third and final showing of the festival. I fight them off, they tail me and my father across town and follow me into the theatre. All my friends are in attendance, the first time ever, it was as if an unseen force gathered us there. As the film began, Japanese Television continues filming me, I flip them off, shooing them away. They leave.

I haven't been the same since, neither have my friends. We were let in on a beautiful secret, a glorious revelation, a moment of profound discovery. We saw Six-String Samurai: the pure definitionof the strength and power of an unbridled independent film. Not great cinema, but a film that reaches into your adrenal gland, toys with your pleasure centers, and forces drool out of your mouth. The film is pure joy on celluloid.

Then there became this mission for me, I had to alert the world to its presence, its coolness. I put up reviews by all my friends and myself. Each one a giant headline trumpeting its arrival. For a generation raised on George Miller, Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, John Woo, and Robert Rodriguez, this was pure candy -- the type you don't know when you've had enough and you get sick. A glorious sickness that compels you to spread your ailment, to run down the street babbling like Peter Lorre with wild-eyed movement. The first geek was right ... look at me ... I'm reduced to ejaculatory reflex action by this film. What a joy!

Harry Knowles' Web site is As the site's resident head geek, Knowles' unbridled enthusiasm for Six-String Samurai has helped fuel a national groundswell of anticipation for the film.

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