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When I saw this movie at in the rental section, I assumed it would be a rip-off of EL MARIACHI or DESPERADO. I rented it out of curiosity and found that I was mistaken. This film is quite original and a little bizarre, but it is definitely the kind of independent movie that is worth seeing.
The budget is low, the costumes and special effects are sparse, and some of the sound is non-synchronous. But this is all made up for with a story and directorial style that lends itself to "camp." The stylization of this movie is definitely what makes it worth seeing. It is kind of an over-the-top martial-arts, rock and roll, post-apocolyptic odessy-adventure.
I enjoyed the flow of the story, which breaks down like this: The hero is traveling across the desert to the post-apocolyptic city of Lost Vegas, to vai for his right as king. Along the way he is tested by other would-be-kings with the same goal in mind. This allows for constant samurai style action/fight scenes. But the story is compounded by the jugernaught he must inevitably face, which is manifested by his ultimate competition, a "Death Metal Band" lead by Death himself. The story is smart, allowing each fight scene to develop the characters. We see Buddy, the hero, to be a supreme, loan-wolf type fighter. And Death, stalking close behind, is ruthless and hard to beat. This sets the stage for their eventual conflict. The first conflict they have is ended permaturely by outside influence, which furthers the story by creating a score to settle in the final fight scene. I prefer when movies take the time to set up this kind of conflict. Rather than just throwing a good guy up against a bad guy and having one big fight scene, we get learn about the characters and the story. Business is left un-finished, which allows the audience to anticipate the climax. This adds suspense to the story and draws the audience in to the movie. The movie has a very good Second Act, which throws the main characters in to great peril, with the bad guy's having all the advantages. This is then resolved with a great third act, finding clever resolution. Very good story telling.
The movie is totally over the top and wierd, but the story is fairly concise and exciting. The circumstances are totally bizarre, but the director creates a world that is enigmatic and yet consistent. I would say this movie is kind of a "Mad Max in Wonderland." It is not your standard Hollywood tale, which, of course, made me like it even more. Not to mention, the entire movie is action packed.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone seeking an original action movie, but on a critical level, just to be fair, I will list the few problems that I found: I think the fight scenes could have used a little more choreographing. It looked like budget constraints were limiting the number of takes they could do, and they were making up for actual precision work with simple slow motion and tricky camera angles. Falcon appears to be fairly well trained in Wu Shu, the standardized style of Chinese Kung Fu, but he is no Jet Li...nor Zhuang Hui, for that matter. It looked like he could use just a little more practice (I don't think he nailed that Butterfly Flat Spin in the sand dunes fight scene with the Death Archers). However, he is good enough to be quite convincing, and he was genuinely a lot of fun to watch. The fight scenes still managed to be quite exciting, and again, I highly recomend this movie. Especially, to anyone looking for a good independent movie. In my opinion, there really are not that many independent action movies that are worth seeing. The TROMA team tries to make action movies, and they pretty much all stink. Don't think that SIX-STRING SAMURAI is another MR. KABUKI MAN NYPD. Buddy would kick the crap out of Mr. Kabukki Man!
I rated this film a 7 out of 10 on the IMDB. Go rent it and let your mind get a little bent. Its really pretty clever.
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