written by Bomani J. Story
directed by Trevor Stevens
by Walter Chaw The latest remake of Yojimbo finds warring frats in some near-future dystopia holding a college campus controlled by feckless, disinterested administrators hostage with their stealing and fencing of bikes. Yes, it's extreme high-concept schlock played with whip-pans and wipe-cuts meant to evoke the showier aspects of the Spaghetti Western while self-consciously making a hard play for instant cult status. It reminded me a lot of Six String Samurai, for what it's worth, and like that film, the mileage one gets from Rock Steady Row may vary. Lester (Hester Horwin) is a freshman with great hair who has his bike stolen on the first day of school. His roomie, Piper (Diamond White), founder/writer/editor of the school paper, tells him he hasn't just lost his only means of transportation--there's no mechanism for getting it back, either. So Lester takes things into his own hands, infiltrating one frat and then the other, and ultimately playing them against each other from the inside. If you've seen it, you've seen it. The dorms, by the way, are co-ed as a cost-saving measure, part of the picture's "satire" of the dire educational debt culture of the United States. There's also a little bit sending up rape culture and the empowerment narrative, but Rock Steady Row is about finding a way to make a sexy-looking movie that moves in sexy ways; when it touches on larger issues, it's without much interest or depth. Technically proficient in every way, it should be enjoyed with an audience and is, in the end, only what a movie shouldering its way into a category that films generally grow into over time can be. That is: obvious and kind of tedious, but, you know, what the hell.