Recently I had the opportunity to see Six-String Samurai with the star of the movie, Jeffrey Falcon. The following is a (rather sloppy) review I wrote for Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review web site run by one of my co-workers, Senh Duong.

There is also an interview (in two parts) with Jeffrey Falcon on Rotten Tomatoes. You should also check out his personal web page which lists his amazing array of wushu study history and filmography. It’s fascinating to read.

Six-String Samurai was, in a word, a fabulous, fabulous film. I just saw it for the second time and, I have to admit, I actually liked it much better the second time. Was it because my expectations were too high for the first showing? Was it because Jeff Falcon (“Buddy”) was at the second showing? Was it because I understood a little more about the film? Maybe a little of each, but all I can say is that it is one genuinely enjoyable romp. This review will be, however, less about the film, and more about my experiences at tonight’s screening of SSS with Jeff Falcon. It was a great experience and I have to thank Jeff for offering to come up here and watch it with us.

Let me back up a little bit and relay the experiences that led up to tonight and the “special screening” of SSS. A few weeks ago I had e-mailed Jeffrey Falcon concerning his wushu (Chinese Martial Arts) training. He and I know several of the same teachers / competitors and I was curious about his background. Before I could say “Get your hands off my guitar” I was talking with the director, Lance Mungia and Jeff Falcon about promoting the movie up here in the Bay Area and holding a special screening where Jeff could attend.

I guess they took my offer of help pretty seriously because next thing I know I’m getting posters, post cards and all manner of SSS merchandise to help promote the movie. I met with the theater manager and we organized the whole event for September 23 at the Landmark California Theater in Berkeley, California.

The day came sooner than I had thought and before I knew it I was introducing myself to Jeff in front of Mel’s Diner on Shattuck Avenue. He came over to my office, Design Reactor, and after quick introductions with all my co-workers we made our way to Great China restaurant for Dumplings and movie talk. Most of what he said you can find out from the “Making of SSS” information on the SSS web site but somehow the information is just a little more “real” coming out of the guy who co-wrote and starred in the movie.

After dinner we made our way next door to the theater where we had a table set up in the lobby for Jeff to sign autographs, answer questions and kick people’s asses. It was a blast and there was a continual stream of people around the table up until the 10:00 showing of the movie. Before the movie started Jeff said a few comments about the making of the movie and invited everyone to enjoy it for what it was: A rock and roll post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Well … here are some of my comments on the movie itself:

Can you say “BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY”? I am literally amazed out of my mind that they managed to capture the images they did on the under $2,000,000.00 budget they were working with. They used Death Valley like a canvas upon which they painted a wonderfully escapist landscape with interesting and engaging characters and just the right blend of humor, action and … well … humor and action.

The only annoyance for me was the child. His extended grunts for attention started to wear on my nerves and, as my co-worker / boss / friend Patrick mentioned, it would have been a little more bearable if he had, perhaps, whimpered like a lost puppy instead.

Another thing I wished I had seen more of was kick-ass fight scenes ala Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China. Now, Jeff mentioned that the scenes were filmed on a very tight schedule with a very tight budget and weren’t really as he had originally intended them so I can understand that completely. But being the martial arts freak that I am I wanted to see lots of cool fighting stuff.

Those minor complaints aside, I can’t help but commend Lance’s direction of this movie and Kristian Bernier’s cinematographic wonders of the modern world. This film managed to pay homage to so many of the greats (Kurosawa, Lucas) while maintaining a fresh edge and subtle wit.

Jeff and Lance are currently working on other scripts for development and Jeff mentioned that this movie is, in fact, just the last movie in a trilogy. The first movie concerns Elvis’s rise as King of Lost Vegas and the second about Buddy’s quest for the Blue Suede shoes. With a bigger budget and more publicity and studio support there is no telling how big these guys will become. Lance has all the makings of a great director, and Jeff is a talent waiting to be discovered. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for either of these to happen.