Post updated on 24 August 2013, scroll down for new additions.
Reviews, media coverage, interviews and other relevant materials made public before and during the launch of Six Bullets (scheduled for end August) will be collected here once we become aware of them, so stay tuned for updates. For production digest, cast, BTS photos, movie-related tweets and others please check our previous post, while updates following its end August release can be found here.
So far (mid June 2012), two reviews have been posted on the imdb page of the movie and one review was posted by Impactonline, whose editor got to see a rough cut of the movie before its screening at the Cannes Movies Market on 17 May. A violently negative review by Ecran Large reveals the author’s disappointment for Van Damme “leaving the main role to Joe Flanigan”.
imdb review by Renegay
Standard but Good DTV, 19 May 2012
Author: Renegay from UK
To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot when I was invited for the screening at Cannes. Another Van Damme movie shot in a East European country with the same director of Assassination Games (AG), a good and standard action movie with a cheap look and some solid but basic action.
And that is exactly what you get with Six Bullets but even more. This movie starts of interesting with a big actionscene with JCVD on a motorcycle..and the movie is filled with good directed fights. Joe Flanigan, who is basically the next big name in this movie, is great as Van Damme’s co-star. The only thing that is annoying that the rest of the cast is filled with unknowns and Van Damme “talented” son Kristopher Varenberg. He plays, how surprising, the son of JCVD in the movie. Also some of the locations in the movie were recycled from AG. The openingsscene is shot at the same manor from AG ( the one were Scott Adkins kept his wife) It all feels very save (not mindblowing, but very watchable) and it is great to Van Damme doing some action again. Ernie Barbarash is developing as a solid director and seems to get the some good movies out off Van Damme, who seems to step of his basic moves and shows some new stuff. This movie was shot prior to The Expendables 2 and it shows. Van Damme seems to be very motivated. Not like he was in AG. Although his character has a dark secret and is kinda depressed.
Six Bullets is a fun movie. Overall people didn’t like it that much. Lots of complaints about the cheapfactor in this one and comparing it to Van Damme’s Cannes classic “JCVD”. But Six Bullets is nothing like this movie… It is your standard but good DTV… Nothing more nothing less. 6/10
imdb review by KingOfThrones
Not bad for a direct to video film, not great either – Minor spoilers, 30 May 2012
Author: KingOfThrones from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Six Bullets is directed by Ernie Barbarash. Who recently directed Assassination Games also starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins. Six Bullets was recently screened at Cannes 2012 and here is my Review (contains spoilers):
Van Damme plays a depressed, ex military (or something along those lines. It’s never really discussed) by the name of Samson Gaul who is hired to rescue the daughter of an MMA fighter, Andrew, played by Joe Flannigan. Joe portrays the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather in the MMA world.
Surprisingly, you get the feeling that Van Damme is not the lead in this film and from the off set it’s apparent that Joe Flannigan is the main attraction here. Joe is an ‘MMA fighter’ whose daughter has been kidnapped due to his spiraling debts, you later learn that Joe is due to throw a fight and bets against himself for a large sum which he owes to “Vlad”. Things don’t exactly go accordingly and Vlad deploys a number of his team to kidnap Joe’s daughter, Monica. Andrew then realizes that he is in over his head and calls on an old ally who is renowned for his recover of small children. Fans of Jean Claude will be pleased with what he has to offer and looks in tremendous shape when he is boxing a hanging piece of meat a la Rocky style with Joe Flannigan (There are a few references to Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude saves the best for last which I won’t spoil). Samson and his son set out to rescue Monica and reunite her with her father.
Kristopher Van Varenberg is surprisingly entertaining in his role as Samson’s son and his shoot-out albeit with the rather unimaginative villains is similar to the Van Damme movies we all grew fond of as a teenager and he certainly has the ability and is worthy enough of carrying the Van Damme name if he so chooses. The main shoot out takes place outside an old mansion and the slow motion ‘shoot and kill’ moment is very similar to that of the slow motion capture used in his father’s earlier films such as the Hard Target. Kris also adds an element of comedy the way he dismembers one of the henchman in the knife scene that takes part in mansion’s kitchen. Van Damme’s daughter, Bianca Bree/Van Varenberg/Van Damme, I am not sure what she names herself, makes a brief appearance although it really feels like she happened to be on set and they threw a small cameo at her to keep her father happy.
Overall, there are a few action scenes that we have become accustomed with in a Van Damme film – He certainly displays better punching prowess compared his more recent DTV efforts, he takes out three guys Transporter style in the end mansion finale in a small hallway. Although there is more gun action than fight scenes, there isn’t really a need for Van Damme to demonstrate his kicking ability as there isn’t the opportunity to do so. In fact, I would have expected more from Joe Flannigan’s character given his supposed background as an MMA fighter. Joe doesn’t participate in too many action scenes and it’s transparent he doesn’t have any interest in becoming an action star. He should have been a more lovable rogue than an MMA fighter
You kind of hope that Van Damme has more dialogue in the movie. Throughout the film, you feel slightly frustrated that he is not presented with more dialogue and most of his lines are no more than one or two in length.
For those that have seen Assassination Games will instantly feel the Barbarash vibe to this movie, the tone, well used locations and pace of the movie more than give this away.
The story is all too familiar in the direct to video market and isn’t going to win any awards and fans of low budget, action, direct to video movies will enjoy this – I give this 6/10.
JCVD's 'Bullets': Yes we Cannes..., Impactonline
25 May 2012
Van Damme’s slow but sure career revival sees him appear in the Expendables sequel this summer, but also taking Six Bullets at Cannes…
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s recently-completed Taken’esque thriller The Butcher (now being called Six Bullets) has been making its official market debut at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival. It is directed by Assassination Games helmer Ernie Barbarash. Van Damme plays a former special forces operative turned hero for hire who specialises in cases involving abducted children. His latest assignment sees him hired by an MMA champion played by Stargate Atlantis’ Joe Flanigan whose daughter has been kidnapped.
Jean-Claude’s eldest son Kristopher Van Varenberg and daughter Bianca Van Varenberg also appear in the movie. Impact’s Far Eastern Editor Mike Leeder saw a rough cut of the film a few months ago and gave it the thumbs up, while cult UK director Ross Boyask (10 Dead Men, Warrioress) saw the film at Cannes and tweeted “Best Van Damme film in 10 years!”
The film is scheduled for release this summer.
Negative review by Ecran Large
In a review that furiously trashes the movie along with all other Seagal and Van Damme action films ever shot in Romania, Ecran Large (whose editor watched it in May at the Cannes Movie Market) claims Van Damme doesn’t fight as he should (being apparently not in a good enough shape for that) and he even leaves the lead to Joe Flanigan, who plays an MMA champion who never fights. Other lashing out comments: the movie is rarely ugly (visually), gunfights are dull and they talk way too much. The author confesses he had chosen to see this movie in order to judge whether Van Damme was fit for The Expendables 2, as he (the editor) considers it was about time Van Damme would say yes to Stallone.
This dissenting review gives us though new insights on the subject (including the explanation for the original title: The Butcher). “Van Damme plays an expert in finding (punishing) Eastern European villains involved in sex trafficking with children from the West. When he inadvertently blows up a house and kills a murderer during a rescue operation, he’s devastated by his mistake and steps down, opening a butchery instead. A couple asks him to return to duty.“
Full text (in French) below and the source here.
18 mai 2012 Par Laurent Pécha
[...] On a pu juger de l’état de forme de Jean-Claude Van Damme avant The Expendables 2 (il était temps qu’il dise oui à Stallone, le belge). [...]
Pourquoi l’avoir choisi : C’est le dernier Jean-Claude Van Damme à date. En attendant de le retrouver dans The Expendables 2, on avait envie de le voir sur grand écran vu que ces derniers films ne sont visibles qu’en vidéo.
Ça raconte quoi : Van Damme joue un expert dans l’éclatage de sales gueules de pays de l’est qui enlèvent les enfants occidentaux pour leurs opérations de commerce sexuel. Seulement, suite à une maladresse – il a fait exploser une maison en en délivrant un qui en a tué d’autres -, JCVD, il est traumatisé et a ouvert une boucherie. Un couple va lui demander de reprendre du service.
Verdict : Ca y est, c’est officiel : Van Damme a dépassé Seagal dans le DTV Z tout pourri tourné en Roumanie. Minimaliste dans ses rares combats à mains nus (il ne lève plus la jambe, trop fatiguant), l’acteur fait presque dans le second rôle laissant la vedette à Joe Flanigan, interprète d’un champion de MMA qui ne se bat jamais. Visuellement, le film est d’une rare laideur, les gunfights d’une platitude absolue, et ça parle tout le temps pour ne rien dire. Et ça dure presque deux heures. Une minuscule récompense : une punchline finale que Jean-Claude a presque piqué à son pote Stallone dans Rambo III. Au méchant qui demande, dans le confessionnal, si Dieu pouvait lui pardonner ses horribles pêchés, Van Damme répond : « Dieu, sûrement. Moi, pas » et il le flingue !
% de chance de le voir en salle : 0%
% de chance de le voir en vidéo : 90%
Update 27 June 2012
DVD release review by DiscDish.com
An article covering the DVD release was added on 26 June on Anna-Louise Plowman’s imdb page. It doesn’t bring anything new regarding the movie, but it does mentions there are no bonus features on the DVD (at least on this particular issue). Here’s the article:
BY LAURENCE – 06/26/2012DVD Release Date: Sept. 11, 2012
Price: DVD $26.99
Studio: Sony The Muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)returns to deliver his obligatory ass-kicking in the 2012 action thriller 6 Bullets.In an Eastern European country, veteran mercenary-turned-butcher Samson Gaul (Van Damme)–retired from combat when his actions resulted in the deaths of helpless victims—finds himself in a situation where he’s the last hope for a desperate father: Mixed Martial Artist Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan of TV’s Stargate: Atlantis). Fayden knows how to fight, but alone he’s unprepared to navigate the corrupt streets of a foreign city to find his daughter, who’s been kidnapped by an international sex-slavery ring. Together, the pair tear make their move against the vile network of criminals.Helmed by Ernie Barbarash (who directed Van Damme previously in 2011’s Assassination Games), the R-rated 6 Bulletsalso stars Bianca Bree (Van Damme’s real-life daughter!) and Anna-Louise Plowman (TV’s Stargate SG-1).While there are no bonus features on this DVD Premiere, it does include an impressive body count.
5 July. Update on the DVD/Blu-ray release date: according to amazon, the release date has been pushed back to September (for US/Canada) and October (for Europe). As one of our friends suggested (and we totally agree), we should see this as increased opportunities for Joe to further promote the movie during his August conventions (see here our post about his scheduled appearances in 2012 conventions).
Update 13 July
JCVD back to butt-kicking, by NextMovie.com
This one below will be known as the “sweet tribal neck tattoo article”
Jean-Claude Van Damme Back to Butt-Kicking in ‘Six Bullets’ Trailer
By Jenni Miller | Jun 14, 2012 | 4:40 PM
If you’ve been aching for some good old Jean-Claude Van Damme action, here’s a chance to get your fix while you’re waiting for “The Expendables 2.” The Muscles from Brussels shows off some serious skills in this trailer for “Six Bullets,” a direct-to-DVD movie that will hit the shelves August 21st.
When Andrew Fayden’s daughter is kidnapped, he goes to the best in the kid-rescuing biz, Samson Gaul (JCVD). The ex-mercenary has the skills to pay the bills, and luckily Fayden (Joe Flanigan) is a former MMA fighter with a sweet tribal neck tattoo, so between them no butt goes unkicked during their search for Becky (Charlotte Beaumont).
“Six Bullets” leans on the real problem of human trafficking in Eastern Europe for the plot, which reminds us of another angry papa bear with “a very particular set of skills” and a kidnapped daughter.
“Finding people, it’s what I do,” Samson says with an air of melancholy. Later he dons glasses for an even more tortured intellectual vibe.
Will this hearken back to his intense performance in the semi-biographical “JCVD” as a washed-up action star? Perhaps not, since he definitely gets into a fight in a gnarly meat locker and also threatens some other baddie’s eyeballs. There also seems to be some sort of explosive device involving a tripwire and some unfortunate fellow’s groin. Frankly, we don’t have a great feeling about the police, either.
Check out the trailer below and let us know if you’re up for some ’80s-style action or if “The Expendables 2″ will whet your whistle when the time comes. Plus, take a look at our list of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best movie moments.
Update 30 August
Van Damme is in top form, by mikesblast on imdb
After the rather sudden release in US on Google Play several days ago (see our later post), we’ve spotted a new review by a JCVD fan.
Van Damme is in top form
By mikesblast 29 August 2012
To my surprise, this is playing on Google Play for only 3.99 so I rushed to watch it…twice for that matter. I rather enjoyed it. I’d rank it pretty much on the same level as AG. Both movies were on the cusp of making the leap from being “good” to being “damn good”. The script in AG is a bit stronger but JC does a much better job in 6B. He is in fantastic shape and doesn’t sleepwalk at all through his performance. He looks and performs the best he has in years. The action is pretty well done and there is a good amount of it. Like AG, Ernie gives us a really cool opening intro to the movie! For the most part, 6B is shot really well, considering the budget. Acting wise, I thought everyone was above average for a DTV…with the exception of Bianca(JC’s real daughter). Even though she isn’t in it that much, I thought her line delivery was just awful. Kris(JC’s real son), however, is better than usual. He still has a lot to learn but he didn’t stink up the place like usual. Flannigan was good and I liked seeing him in something other than Stargate. Neal Acree turned out another good music score, although, a lot of it may be a little too piano heavy which kind of kills the tone in a few scenes. It sometimes added a “made for TV” vibe. Overall though, this is another good step for Ernie and definitely one of JC’s best DTV’s. I’ll probably watch it one more time before it expires. 3.25/5
Update 4 Sep
Review by BZFilm.com (SPOILERS!!)
REVIEW 6 Bullets (2012) + Trailer
Samson Gaul (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is an ex-mercenary who can find pretty much anyone anywhere. He’s known for finding missing children, and has been doing it successfully for many years, until one operation, when it all goes wrong, and although Gaul manages to save a young boy from a slave ring, he also accidentally kills two other young girls.
The police who is aware of Gaul’s activities, is not used to such collateral damages, and frustration forces Gaul to get away from his job, and become a simple salesman in a meat shop. Haunted by the visions of the dead children, Gaul is rarely sober, at this point not caring too much for his future, that seems rather bleak.
Enter Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) – a former MMA fighter, that comes to Moldova (yes, that is where the action takes place) with his family, looking for a comeback into the ring. His 14-year old daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont) is soon kidnapped by Amalia (Bianca Bree), and is about to get sold for big money to some local crime figures.
At first, Fayden and his wife try police for help, yet when their case starts to drag, they are advised by an inside man from the U.S. embassy to ask Samson Gaul for help, as he is their only hope. So, Gaul will have to get back to doing what he does best, at the same time fighting his demons, and preparing himself for the much bigger picture of child trafficking.
Prior to the release of “6 Bullets”, there was not much to expect – the usual cheap Van Damme straight to DVD action movie. This might have turned out so, yet “6 Bullets” actually has a lot more that can be discussed.
Despite having a budget of around $10 million, and running for almost two hours, “6 Bullets” is not a straight-up action film, as there’s just as much talking as there’s action. Van Damme does not do a lot of martial arts action in the film, yet when he does – it looks quite good, director Ernie Barbarash worked with Van Damme before, so he knows how to set up a fight scene correctly.
Although many would rather see Van Damme beat up people on screen than act, I actually enjoy seeing him expressing some sort of emotions, even if the scene is cheesy. “6 Bullets” has a few of those scenes, and Van Damme’s acting doesn’t irritate.
The cast is good, although many express negativity towards Van Damme’s children – son Christopher Van Varenberg (plays the insider of the U.S embassy here, and Gaul’s son), and Bianca Bree (plays villain, Amalia), who seem to be appearing in every film their father makes.
While I would say that this is a good strategy to get enrolled into the moviebiz, and get some roles under Van Damme’s shoulder, soon both Christoper and Bianca will have to go further, if they consider acting seriously, not relying on good looks only.
Joe Flanigan adds a good on-screen support for Van Damme, and despite it is a bit hard to imagine him as an ex MMA fighter, “6 Bullets” is definitely a step-up for him, since the cheesy “Ferocious Planet”.
The film has a couple of major flaws, and those are mainly about the story. Despite the fact that film has been shot in Romania, on-screen it is presented as Moldova’s capital of Chisinau (former Kishinev), where the action takes place.
The plot makes us believe that Van Damme’s Gaul is only rescuing children within the limits of the city, which is also full of criminals, as the story suggests. It seems like it wouldn’t have taken long for the enemies to track down Gaul, since they all live in one city.
Same can be said of the police that is aware of Gaul, and aware of the amount of criminal activity in the city, yet everybody behave like they’re living in Los Angeles. The point is – the action and the story presented in the film are just too big to be put within Moldova’s capital.
If you can watch through that – the film is quite good, despite having this cheap feel to it. For Van Damme fans this is above the usual STV action film, for others it will do just fine for one late night entertainment. Check out the trailer below.
Update 6 Sep 2012
6 Bullets review by TheActionElite.com (Eoin)
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Positives: Great story, characters and performances with plenty of action and a solid music score.
Our Review: 4 / 5 – Very Good
2012 is definitely the return of Jean-Claude Van Damme, with The Expendables 2 and 6 Bullets, one thing is for certain; Van Damme is back and better than ever!
The story is similar to Taken where an ex-mercenary (JCVD) known for finding missing children is hired by a mixed martial arts fighter (Joe Flanigan) whose daughter has been kidnapped.
Van Damme is on career best form in this movie and I found myself genuinely moved in places. His character is a borderline alcoholic riddled with guilt and self doubt after a botched mission. When the family first come to him asking him to find their daughter, he is at first reluctant and feels he would only fail them. He is haunted by the ghosts of the victims he couldn’t save; we all know however that he HAS to help them find this child for his own catharsis and redemption.
When dealing with this subject matter (Human Trafficking), you’re not about to have one-liners and humour every 2 seconds as that would have been crass. The approach is intelligent, well paced, serious and there frankly wasn’t a single bad line of dialogue in it. The opening 10 minutes are almost unbearably tense and more than a little disturbing. Fear not though, there are no rape scenes in the movie; like Taken you don’t need to see anything and it’s all left to the imagination.The bad guys don’t even need to do anything; as soon as you know they are traffickers, you immediately want them dead.
The direction was slick with great action scenes, although I was disappointed that Van Damme doesn’t get to have a one on one fight with anyone at the end. The man is in his 50′s now though, so it’s refreshing to watch him do something different. He still kicks plenty of ass and fans will not be let down.
One of the biggest surprises in the movie was Joe Flanigan who was great as the desperate father willing to do anything to get his daughter back. He definitely has the potential to become the next big action star.
The acting in general was excellent and like I said before JCVD gives a great performance. There’s an excellent scene where he is having an argument with his son (Real life offspring Kristopher Van Varenberg) after another mess of a job. Van Damme is screaming at him and storms off into the back room and grabs his bottle of Vodka, he breaks down in tears and you really feel for him; he’s genuinely in a personal Hell and you root for him right until the end. Speaking of the end, the last line of the movie is awesome…
One of the stand out areas of the movie was the score by Neal Acree; which really added to the sleazy atmosphere but was never overly intrusive.
Overall, I have to say that 6 Bullets is yet further proof that Straight to DVD movies are where real action fans can find the movies we’ve been waiting for. It’s one of the best films JCVD has done in recent years and will easily make my top ten of the year. Check it out and support real action!
Six Bullets review by Arrow In The Head, www.joblo.com
A MMA fighter (Joe Flanigan) travels to some small Russian country for a comeback fight. His wife (Anna-Louise Plowman) and 14 year old daughter (Charlotte Beaumont) are tagging along. Alas he is forced to turn to a hired gun (or is it hired knife) nick-named The Butcher (Jean Claude Van Damme) when his daughter is kidnapped by a sex trade ring.
Jean Claude Van Damme re-teams with ASSASSINATION GAMES director Ernie Barbarash for the bleak actionner 6 BULLETS (formerly known as the more interesting sounding THE BUTCHER, but hey that’s distributors and their lack of creativity for ya) and the result is a fairly well rounded picture.
The sex trade has always been a subject matters that “bothered me” in the sense that I can’t believe it’s actually going down in our society today and yes it appalls me. And when it deals with children? Even worse. 6 BULLETS was set in that world, hence upping the stakes of the good guy beating the shit out of the bad guys even higher than the norm for me. The flick started off strong, with a compelling initial premise, solid acting by the core family group (Joe Flanigan, Anna-Louise Plowman and Charlotte Beaumont all sold their roles) and eventually Van Damme continuing his trek of tackling more layered and damaged characters (which in my opinion started with Replicant in 2001) than he did in say his Kickboxer (1989), Lionheart (1990) and Double Impact (1991) days. Van Damme’s Samson Gaul is a wounded man, one that is haunted by guilt, self loathing and ghosts of the past; and JC once again gave a visceral and moving performance. Now that think of it, it would be easy for JC to just do what he used to do, kick ass, be charismatic, drop one liners, roll end credits. And even though he excelled at that in his hey days, I respect the fact that the man keeps on trying to challenge himself with his current roles as opposed to say STEVEN SEAGAL who at this point just shows up for his close ups, lets his body double and his ADR voice impersonator do the rest and cashes that check. JC still cares and still strives further. So kudos for that!
Action wise, Ernie Barbarash is no chump, he knows how to shoot action (and also has a knack at doing it right on a limited budget) which resulted in some pretty enthralling hand to hand fight sequences (sadly Van Damme didn’t have enough kicking in his one for my liking) and some bang on shoot-outs. He also kept the pace of the picture moving at a smooth pace, the somber tone hit the spot while the moments of high brutality (loved the knifing stuff) acted as the acid on top. So what was the problem then? Easy: the last act. Although most action movies come with some suspension of disbelief; plot point number two here pushed it too far. The decision of the parental unit just made no sense to me. No way anybody would chose that route when they have a trained killer like Van Damme’s character at their disposal. On top of that, the finale built up my expectations but then went on to not fully deliver. Countless baddies in an isolated setting plus an armed Van Damme used to equal mucho Van Dammage. Here damage occurred but Van Damme was hardly part of it. The potential was there but they avoided it for some reason. Bummer.
All in all though 6 BULLETS still hit the spot! Good story, strong action, dark mood and Van Damme giving yet another well rounded and intense show. Lock, load and have a blast!
We get some grisly knife wounds, a melted by acid face, messy bullet hits, a gross burned corpse and broken limbs.
T & A:
We get one pair of fake rocket looking titties during a strip club scene. The ladies and gay dudes get Van Damme shirtless, mofo is still in good shape.
All in all 6 BULLETS had me by the “couillons” for the most part with a gripping storyline, solid action, Van Damme ably playing a wounded and guilt ridden character and fine acting by the lead players. Too bad the last act stumbled twice, one via a ludicrous plot turn and two by not having Van Damme be part of the action as much as he should have been. Overall though; badass! Action fiends or/and Van Damme fans craving for a potent low budget serving of wam-bam, should get their round kicks out of this one. Bring on the next one JC!
The flick was shot in Bucharest, Romania and even used some of the same locations as Van Damme’s Assassination Games (2011).
Van Damme reunited with Peter Hyams (Timecop and Sudden Death) for the upcoming Enemies Closer (2013)
Van Damme is still in post-prod with his directorial follow up to the The Quest; The Eagle Path (2010), also known as Full Love and Soldiers.
Van Damme’s son and daughter (Kristopher Van Varenberg and Bianca Bree) both have small roles in the film.
Some scenes were cut out of the Cannes cut in this final cut. For example, there was a Rocky homage, with Van Damme punching a slab of meat.
Two viewers' reviews, amazon.co.uk
Two reviews posted by viewers on amazon.co.uk so far
one of van damme’s best films in years
By keith01 31 August 2012
I had the luck of seeing this flm early. I was hoping this film was going to be better than Van damme’s last film ‘dragon eyes’ which was quite bad.
Boy was i in for a shock, this film was EXCELLENT, Firstly the bad side about this film if there was any, was the film had a close story to Taken, which was a great film. Then again if Hollywood pay big bucks to companies to do remakes why can’t the not so rich companies copy some type of story.
Right then onto the film, a former mma fighter’s daughter gets kidnapped and they get told to go and see Van Damme as he is the best in the business to get their daughter back, but unbeknown to them his last mission went wrong and he keeps on seeing these 2 dead girls every now and then.
Okay i suppose that every time a Van Damme film comes out everyone wants to hear about the fights in the film, well Van Damme uses a knife early on in the film to good effect, there is also a good fight in a night club that does not involve Van Damme until the fight is almost over, then the rest of the film centres around gun play and the occasional fisty cuffs.
Altogether the film goes at a good pace and it’s put together very well, Van Damme’s pained character is nicely played and the scenes with his real life son, who plays his son onscreen, there is great chemistry there.
See this film and you won’t be dissapointed, there are a lot worse films out there. I will be buying this film when it comes out.
And the second one:
By Charlie “Charlie”, 3 Sep 2012
I genuinely loved the film. Sucks how the UK takes months for a film to come out, which is frankly ridiculous!. Anyway, the actors such as; Joe Flanagan and Jean Claude Van Dam are amazing! If you liked Stargate Atlantis’s John Shepperd? Then you will love seeing him in this.
The story is identical to Taken (Liam Neeson) But it’s still worth watching
If you’re a fan of Jean Claude and Joe Flanagan? Rent it first and see for yourself. if you like it? Buy it and add it to your collection.
Update 9 Sep 2012
According to the article below, there are no special features on the DVD, which is a shame.
Jean-Claude Van Damme hits the mark in 6 Bullets, by Examiner.com
September 11, 2012 DVD: Jean-Claude Van Damme hits the mark in ’6 Bullets’
SEPTEMBER 6, 2012 BY: ANNIE CHU
Jean-Claude Van Damme is back better than ever in the new direct-to-video action film 6 Bullets (also known as The Butcher) written by Chad and Evan Law and directed by Ernie Barbarash. Starring alongside him is his son Kristopher Van Varenberg, his daughter Bianca Bree, Joe Flanigan and Anna-Louise Plowman.
When American mix martial artist Andrew Fayden’s daughter gets kidnapped by a foreign crime syndicate, he is at a lost of what to do. Unfamiliar with the foreign city streets and the police being no help, Fayden can fight but needs help. He turns to ex-mercenary Samson Gaul for help, who now runs a local butcher shop.
Samson is initially reluctant to get involved. He had retired from combat after his actions led to the death of innocents, who still haunt him now. However when he becomes Andrew’s last hope to navigate the corrupt streets, he has a chance at redemption as they team up to rip apart the vile crime syndicate that preys on the innocents.
6 Bullets packs quite a punch for a direct-to-video film. At age 51, Jean-Claude Van Damme is as spry and imposing as ever, with his stone cold stare and punching prowess. You can see his tremendous shape in the scene where he goes “Rocky-style” on a hanging piece of meat. There are plenty of action scenes that include fight scenes and gun shoot outs, plus a great opening intro, to make up for the mediocre dialogue. It is nice to Joe Flanigan from Stargate Atlantis, but would have loved to see more action from him since he is supposed to be a MMA fighter. Overall, 6 Bullets is a fun film to rent and watch, even just to see that Van Damme still got it after all these years.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme as Samson Gaul
- Joe Flanigan as Andrew Fayden
- Anna-Louise Plowman as Monica Fayden
- Bianca Bree as Amalia
- Kristopher Van Varenberg as Selwyn Gaul
- Terese Cilluffo as News Anchor
- Uriel Emil Pollack as Vlad
- Louis Dempsey as Cosmin Stelu
- Charlotte Beaumont as Becky Fayden
- Best Buy: New York City locations or use the store locator for other areas.
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- Target: New York City locations or use the store locator for other areas.
- Walmart: Long Island locations or use the store locator for other areas.
- Amazon.com charges sales tax for all New York shipping addresses.
Update 11 Sep
DVD review by Alien Bee Entertainment
DVD REVIEW: ’6 BULLETS’ STARRING JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, Monday, September 10th, 2012
6 BULLETS is Jean-Claude Van Damme‘s latest action film that kicks ass from beginning to end, literally! Folks, this is a new Van Damme instant classic! Nonstop action!
The movie follows a mercenary turned butcher who is haunted by his troubled past who has to dig in deep to help a couple who’s daughter has been kidnapped by an underground ring trafficking young girls. Van Dammeplays the butcher and this guys hasn’t lost a step in his 20+ year career! He’s killing it all though this movie y’all! He teams up with an MMA fighter played by Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis) who can also handle his own! I was both surprised and impressed at his ass kicking skills in the movie! The two team up and track down the ring, and a few others who kidnaps these young girls and get some redemption and revenge. They take out all of the bad guys with precision and accuracy and of course they save the day!
Director Ernie Barbarash captures all of the cool action with his camera! He keeps up with the 52 year old Van Damme who literally still movies like he’s a 20 something action star. The fight scenes and gun fights are what stand out in the movie but we so get some cool story telling as well as a few meaningful sub-plots for certain characters, including Van Damme’s who is battling some serious demons with a heavy heart. The location they filmed in is gritty, dangerous and perfect. 6 Bullets is just a really cool action movie!
Bottom line is, 6 Bullets is so much fun! I just about guarantee action fans and adrenaline junkies will love this movie! It definitely is recommended and hits DVD on September 11th.
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Run Time: 115 Minutes
Special Features: None!
A movie this cool should at least have some “BTS” or “making of” features! Come on guys!
Update 13 Sep
6 Bullets review by TheActionElite.com (Boombata)
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Positives: JCVD’s acting is top notch. Great story and execution.
Our Review: 3.5 / 5 – Good
It is a way more disturbing and effective story than ‘Taken’
There is nothing more terrifying for a parent than when a child is kidnapped. Now imagine your child is taken from you to be a sex slave? That is the concept for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s new direct to DVD film “6 Bullets”. Now first off, what does 6 Bullets have to do with the plot other then give the movie a cool name? I have absolutely no idea, but it is a cool title isn’t it? 2012 has definitely been quite kind to our Muscles from Brussels as he was seen on the big screen in The Expendables 2, and continuing his Universal Soldier franchise with “Day Of Reckoning” coming to DVD in October, as well as this film. He is not only making a lot of films lately but they have been very good of late.
6 Bullets gives us a new kind of Van Damme. He wants to give you a good film without just the trademark kicks. Now the film does feature some very awesome displays of martial arts, but focuses on story, script, and acting as well to give you a well balanced experience. The film takes a story that has been done before I know, (Taken) but it gives its own spin on it. It is a way more disturbing and effective story then Taken. If by chance you do not think Van Damme can do dramatic acting and sell it, and this movie doesn’t convince you otherwise, then nothing will.
Van Damme plays an ex military man named Samson Gaul, who is hired by the parents of kidnapped children who have been taken to be sex slaves. After one extraction goes horribly wrong, he gives up on rescuing kids until a couple desperately pleads him to help them rescue their 14 yr old daughter. Knowing that the police take forever to investigate, and the chances of her survival decreases with every hour, he decides to help once again.
Van Damme is at the best I have seen him acting wise, and he seems to be maturing with age. He still can kick ass, but his acting ability has never been better. The pain and anguish he experiences, as he is haunted with his past mistakes are heartbreaking scenes. His son in the film is played by his real life son (Kristopher Van Varenberg), who does a very good job as a good honest cop who pushes his father to get back to doing what he does best: saving the lives kidnapped children. The Antagonists in the film are as average as they come. Nothing spectacular, or memorable in their performances. They are just there. Joe Flanigan who plays the kidnapped girls father was impressive. I really enjoyed his performance and came across as genuine and real. It didn’t feel like he was acting, but reacting to the circumstances. His performance made the film much more dramatic. The mother on the other hand, I felt was kind of over doing it at times, but most mothers would be in a manic state if this were really happening so maybe it’s pretty close to reality I suppose.
Color me shocked and paint me guilty! Ernie Barbarash who directed the last Van Damme movie “Assassination Games” which I thought to be complete garbage comes through with this film and provides a great script, good action and delivers a powerful performance from Van Damme. Dude! What happened the last time? He has a great style to his films, but the last outing was a boring mess. I hated everything about it. Now, I care about the characters, and enjoy the story that unfolded.
Please tell me that JCVD is going to start providing more films of this calibre? I enjoyed this story and it had enough action throughout to keep you interested and alert. It also came with a surprising and satisfying conclusion. 6 Bullets was absolutely one of Van Dammes best in awhile and I’m glad to report that his career is most definitely on an uphill climb.
Six Bullets (2012) review by Beyond Hollywood
Encapsulated Cinema: Motorway and Six Bullets
Review by Nix, posted on Sep 5th
Jean-Claude Van Damme, fresh off his wicked turn as a bad guy in “The Expendables 2″, slips back into more familiar good guy mode in “6 Bullets”, which finds the Muscles from Brussels re-teaming with his “Assassination Games” director Ernie Barbarash. Like “Assassination”, “6 Bullets” is a somewhere-in-Eastern-Europe set action movie, this time finding JCVD playing Samson Gaul, a former French Legionnaire turned professional retriever of kidnapped kids. Apparently there is a lot of business for Samson in whatever country the film is set in, the place seemingly teeming with the heartless bastards. After a bad experience that results in a couple of young girls’ deaths, Samson declares himself done, disappearing into a butcher’s shop and booze. He’s resurrected when Becky (Charlotte Beaumont), the young daughter of MMA fighter Andrew Flayden (“Stargate: Atlantis’” Joe Flanigan) is snatched out of her hotel suite by bad guys, and the parents come to him for assistance.
Essentially “Taken” without the slick production values, “6 Bullets” is an entertaining enough effort from Barbarash, and JCVD once again proves he’s willing to tackle headier subject matters that his other direct-to-DVD action brethren avoid like the plague. Mind you, I’m not saying “6 Bullets” is a complete success, but it is, you know, very decent for what it is. Van Damme’s Samson is almost ninja-like as he goes about the joint knocking off bad guys, at times amusingly using gear that would make James Bond green with envy. It ends up being very silly, but you gotta respect Van Damme for starring in a movie where the hero is stalked by the ghosts of two bloodied up dead girls. Joe Flanigan, long removed from “Stargate: Atlantis” looks disappointingly out of place as an MMA fighter. Indeed, he only gets to throw down once, and even that is heavily edited. Van Damme, though, is in prime form as he slices and dices and shoots his way through the criminal underworld.
Like other recent Van Damme entries, “6 Bullets” proves to be a family affair. JCVD’s son Kristopher Van Varenberg plays his son in the movie, a slick Embassy something-or-rather with all the right phone numbers, and Van Varenberg’s sister Bianca Bree plays against type as one of the baddies. It might be tempting to bag on JCVD for casting family, but it helps that both kids are pretty good actors and help to balance out the really bad local thespians in the production. “6 Bullets” takes a hell of a lot of liberties with script logic, but then again, you probably expected that. It’s a very good Jean-Claude Van Damme asskicker, and his fans should get their money’s worth. Everyone else should just wait for “Taken 2″.
Six Bullets (2012) review by moviesmaverick.com and zimbio.com
By Jason Rugaard on September 4, 2012
At first glance 6 Bullets can be mistaken for a Taken knockoff, but it is actually more similar to Polanski’s Frantic, orThe Professional. In the straight to DVD world, stealing from one movie is standard. Borrowing from three is outright, ingenuity. Jean Claude Van Damme is a former mercenary and ex-legionnaire, turned butcher living in Moldavia. When the daughter of Andrew Fayden, a former MMA champion goes missing, he turns to a man that specializes in retrieving kidnapped kids, who are unwillingly forced into sexual slavery. Sam Gaul (Van Damme) is hired by Fayden to recover the child from the clutches of an arms dealer readying the girl for a Sheik who collects blond haired American virgins. It falls onto Gaul to retrieve the kid from a closed down Russian prison, that the villains have converted into a fortress. Gaul is compelled to take the job for the monetary reward and the fact that, “It’s the right thing to do”.
The film opens with an onscreen passage that recounts the selling of a child for 6 Bullets, setting the (appropriate) melancholy tone for this action-thriller. Ernie Barbarash brings vivid direction to the sharp screenplay by writers Chad and Evan Law. The screenwriters have fashioned a compelling tale that is perhaps, too heavy of a subject to be used as fodder for an action thriller. Yet the film works, largely in part to director Ernie Barbarash, who keeps the picture moving at a blazing clip. After the mediocre effort Assassination Games, this is a return to form for both Barbarash and star, JCVD. Outside a mesmerizing opening sequence that is equal parts chilling and brutally violent, 6 Bullets settles into a more measured mood. There is not an abundance of action in the opening 30 minutes. Although Van Damme’s usage of inventive booby traps, mutilation and battery acid, is clever.
In his last few movies, Van Damme has been relegated to the costar in his own vehicles. Assassination Games matched him with Scott Adkins, and strangely both were rendered ineffective due to a lack of on screen chemistry and a bottom-feeding screenplay. Now we have the real screen emergence of Kristopher Van Varenberg, Van Damme’s real-life son. The younger man is a promising new actor who possesses an easy on-screen charm, and I really enjoyed seeing the two generations of Van Varenberg men playing opposite each other. Unfortunately Jean Claude’s daughter, Bianca Bree is glimpsed only fleetingly, while she is attractive, the jury is still out on whether she is a capable actor.
The Sam Gaul character is compelling enough to warrant a follow-up with this tortured character. I can envision this as a franchise-ready series. On the basis of this well produced effort I would gladly take more. 6 Bullets runs 110 minutes, yet never sags under the weight of its heavy story. I believe this effort ranks amongst In Hell, Wake of Death and JCVD as one of the best direct-to-DVD Van Damme films in the last 15 years.
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Joe Flanigan, Kristopher Van Varenberg
Update 18 Sep
6 Bullets 2012 | movie review by David Gilleand, examiner.com
6 Bullets 2012 | movie review, 8 Sep 2012
by David Gilleand
One form of film we rarely see, if at all, is movies on human trafficking, especially those on younger children and teen girls being sold as sex slaves. It’s a hush hush topic, one that most want to ignore as it is a delicate issue not to be taken lightly. “6 Bullets” is a film mixing both martial arts and gun fights to stop the reign of human trafficking
This film stars legendary martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme as Samson Gaul, but the story really revolves around Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) whose daughter (Charlotte Beaumont) is kidnapped and thrown into a ruthless human trafficking ring. They enlist the help of a local butcher and soldier, Samson Gaul (Van Damme) who has a history in helping in these matters. After a successful rescue mission, Samson made the mistake of ignoring the other children that needed his help. His mistake made him reluctant to help the family, but in the end it was the right thing to do.
This film is a heart pounding action film, one worthy of Jean-Claude Van Damme. No, it isn’t exactly what you would expect to find in a search and rescue film. There seems to be no reason but for viewer entertainment for the martial arts scenes thrown in here and there, but it is presented in such a way that really makes no difference of how realistic it is. The story is good. You want to see the family rescue their daughter, but you also want to see the bad guys go down and for the other children captured to be saved. This film does not disappoint.
There are certain factors that you might notice that adds to the film being unrealistic. For instance, the father is also a fighter, a professional MMA fighter, so already you know he will have a few fighting scenes himself. It’s a little much for two martial artists to be in the same film about human trafficking, but somehow it works. The title of the film may be confusing to those who maybe weren’t paying attention when the film first begins. It has a text intro that explains that someone once traded six bullets for a child, and nothing was done to stop it. Honestly other than that, the title held no meaning for what happened in the film itself, other than the general idea of human trafficking.
So those of you who are a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme and the work that he does, you will be satisfied with “6 Bullets“. This film comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Sept. 11!
Van Damme delivers 6 Bullets by Bobby Blakey, examiner.com
Van Damme delivers 6 Bullets, 16 Sep 2012
by Bobby Blakey
Hot off the heels of his great villainous turn in the Expendables 2, Jean Claude Van Damme delivers another straight to video action film 6 Bullets. Over the years some of his films seem to have gotten a bit better in both acting and quality. He still has a lot that get international theatrical release, but still end up on the video shelf here. Will 6 Bullets keep his streak alive after E2 has brought him back to theatrical prominence?
6 Bullets follows an ex-mercenary known for finding missing children is hired by a mixed martial arts fighter whose daughter has been kidnapped, but is still struggling with a failed assignment. For the most part this isn’t one of his better films, but is a decent addition to his filmography. There is plenty of action that’s pretty simple and only averagely executed, but mostly loses some of its effectiveness due to bad editing. Where this film lacks on some of the expected action, Van Damme delivers another character with a wide range of emotions. While still nowhere near the performance of JCVD (note of Joe-Flanigan.info website editor: Bobby Blakey is mentioning the “JCVD” movie, 2008), he really carries the film well giving the character more depth than his normal bad ass persona. The supporting cast including Stargate: Atlantis star Joe Flanigan and both Van Damme’s son and daughter all do a decent job with what they are working with. The story is simple, but does add some clever twists here and there to give it a bit of an edge you may not expect. The foreign setting really helps this movie both visually and size to give it a bigger feel than it may have had being shot here in the US.
While this wasn’t a great movie, it still delivers enough of a kick to entertain the hard core Van Damme fans out there. Over time Van Damme, much like the other action stars of E2 has seemed to really embrace his age and seems to have enhanced his performances a bit more. Worse case, this film will serve as good filler while fans eagerly wait for his next film Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.
6 Bullets Has More Rounds in its Chamber than You'd Expect from a Direct-to-DVD Action Flick by justpressplay.net
6 Bullets Has More Rounds in its Chamber than You’d Expect from a Direct-to-DVD Action Flick, 15 Sep 2012
by Lex Walker
Save for a return to the silver screen in a nostalgia flick like Expendables 2 or semi-parody autobiography JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s status as a cinematic action star has long since downgraded to direct-to-DVD features alongside the likes of Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris. What’s interesting about Van Damme’s films of his twilight years however is that they’re rarely as self-indulgent as some of the stuff his peers have resorted to in their older age. His recent film 6 Bullets might be little more than a retooled version of the Liam Neeson actioner Taken, but it’s actually quite palatable and shows enough restraint as to make the acting and dialogue rise above the expected mediocrity.
After a rash decision during a mission left Samson Gaul (Van Damme) feeling the guilt over the death of two young girls, he retired from the child hostage rescue business and became a butcher. The call to return to his old profession rings when the daughter (Anna-Louise Plowman) of an MMA fighter (Joe Flanigan) setting up his next bout in Europe gets kidnapped by a couple looking to fulfill an order for a young, blonde American prostitute requested by a local mob boss. The girl’s parents turn to Samson to see if he’ll return to the job and find their daughter.
It’s worth noting right off the bat that 6 Bullets isn’t the fan-pleasing, action-happy return to ass-kicking form that many would like from Van Damme. It’s understandable; the man is 52, he’s getting up there, but he’s still capable and we do get a few very quick and brutal scenes of him ravaging thugs. To help fill in the gaps, Joe Flanigan also gets to throw down a bit and it definitely goes a ways towards taking all of the expected action pressure off of Van Damme’s shoulders.
In the end, 6 Bullets is a competently directed and mostly satisfying Jean-Claude Van Damme flick that’s somewhere between better than you’d expect for a direct-for-DVD release but not quite good enough for a theatrical debut. It’s certainly worth the watch for fans of classic action, and maybe the average Joe on a slow weekend afternoon.
DVD Bonus Features
There are none.
“6 Bullets” is on sale September 11, 2012 and is rated R. Action. Directed by Ernie Barbarash. Written by Chad Law, Evan Law. Starring Jean Claude Van Damme, Joe Flanigan.
What's in a name? by The Video Guy on seattlepi.com
What’s in a name? 16 Sep 2012
by The Video Guy
In “6 Bullets,” Jean-Claude Van Damme doesn’t do much more than stand around and look cool.
When Jean-Claude Van Damme comes out with a new movie, it’s a holiday at Video Guy HQ. Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of JCVD’s latest, 6 BULLETS (R, 2 1/2 stars), a perfectly fine bit of B-level action that could have used more … JCVD.
But after watching it, I’m still extremely confused as to the movie’s title. The original name of the movie was “The Butcher,” which is a GREAT name for a direct-to-DVD action flick and a nod to JCVD’s character in the movie. But considering the plethora of bullets spent over the course of the film, I’m not sure why six are singled out.
But I digress. The rather heavy plot for a B-flick revolves around child slavery, not your usual subject matter for which to unleash your aging action star.
JCVD stars as the mysterious Samson, a mercenary out to rescue a young boy kidnapped and used as a plaything by bigwigs in Moldova. Samson gets his kid, but torches the rest of the place, including other young abductees hidden in the walls (?) by the bad guys.
This haunts our guy to no end, as he sees the dead girls after finishing his stint at the shop. He spends his nights drinking himself into a stupor, and Van Damme’s weathered face is the perfect vehicle for this tormented man.
Unfortunately, a large majority of the film is given to former “Stargate: Atlantis” star Joe Flanigan, who plays a mixed martial artist whose teenage daughter is kidnapped shortly after he arrives in Moldova for a comeback fight. Fayden and his wife beg Samson for help, who reluctantly agrees.
I’d like to say the film then turns into a showcase for Van Damme, who was downright electric in “The Expendable s 2,” but too much time is spent with the Faydens and then, when the action does heat up, it’s gun-oriented rather than showing off Van Damme’s physical capabilities.
I remain fiercely loyal to JCVD, having seen all his films since he disappeared from cinemas. This is on the upper end of that scale, but I know that with the right material, he could shine again.
6 Bullets (US - 2012) review by Mark Tinta, on goodefficientbutchery.blogspot
On DVD/Blu-ray: 6 BULLETS 13 Sep 2012
This overlong and needlessly convoluted Romania-shot thriller is essentially a TAKEN knockoff for Jean-Claude Van Damme, and it’s not one of his stronger DTV efforts. Long past his action star heyday, Van Damme has built an exemplary second career in the world of DTV and for many, his recent turn in THE EXPENDABLES 2 was their first exposure to the Muscles from Brussels in years. He’s never stopped working, and believe it or not, he’s very quietly turned into a surprisingly solid actor who deserves another shot from Hollywood (I’ve said many times that he’d make an excellent Bond villain). Van Damme is very good in 6 BULLETS, but the flabby story could really use some tightening. There’s really no reason–other than an unsuccessful attempt to fool people into thinking it’s not a blatant TAKEN ripoff–for the film to have two tough-guy protagonists when they could’ve easily been streamlined into one credible character. Van Damme is Samson Gaul, a butcher and part-time mercenary haunted by a botched job where he rescued a nine-year-old boy from an Eastern European sex slavery/human trafficking ring but inadvertantly caused the deaths of four abducted girls in the process. He sees a shot at redemption when American MMA fighter Andrew Fayden (STARGATE: ATLANTIS’ Joe Flanigan) begs him for help in finding his own teenage daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont), who’s been taken from a hotel in Moldova. They spend much of the remainder of the film working separately to track down the human trafficking ring (who, of course, are in cahoots with the corrupt local police), Gaul with his consulate official son Selwyn (Van Damme’s son Kristopher Van Varenberg), and Andrew with his wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman). Because the backstories of both Samson and Andrew need to be established, it takes director Ernie Barbarash (CUBE ZERO, STIR OF ECHOES 2, Van Damme’s ASSASSINATION GAMES) over 30 minutes to get things rolling, as we have to slog through scenes of a depressed Samson hitting the bottle and having visions of the ghosts of the dead girls. Sure, these scenes, hokey as they are, allow Van Damme to show his range and he acquits himself well, but why bother splitting the hero into two characters, especially when Andrew’s MMA skills never come into play anyway? All this does is take what should’ve been a compact, 90-minute action flick and bloat it to just under two hours, with a really badly-paced finale that doesn’t do it any favors. 6 BULLETS is mostly silly and there’s a few unintended laughs (like Samson’s ability to stage complicated, SAW-like booby traps in seconds, and a Moldovan newspaper headline screaming “American MMA Fighter’s Daughter Kidnapped”), but its biggest fault is that it wastes a strong performance by Van Damme, who, unlike many of his EXPENDABLES 2 co-stars, has allowed himself to age naturally and uses the lines in his increasingly craggy, weary, and weathered face to his advantage. JCVD and THE EXPENDABLES 2 were a good start, but will somebody give this guy a serious role in a serious film? (R, 115 mins)
Update 19 Sep
DVD review: 6 Bullets by blogcritics.org
by The Other Chad, 18 Sep 2012
Directed by Ernie Barbarash and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, 6 Bullets is a turgid variation on Taken that lacks zip, suspense, or compelling characters. This direct-to-DVD feature is the second collaboration between Barbarash and Van Damme, the first being Assassination Games (2011). Incidentally, both films were family affairs for Van Damme, as his son, Kristopher Van Varenberg, and daughter, Bianca Bree, play supporting roles.
Samson Gaul (Van Damme) is an ex-mercenary whose specialty is locating kidnapped children. He’s haunted by a deadly mistake he made, however, leading to a crisis of confidence. When professional mixed martial artist Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) and his wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman) travel to Romania, their 13-year-old daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont) is taken. Her captors have plans to sell her as a sex slave. Based on reputation, the Flanigan’s believe there’s only one man who can rescue Becky: Samson Gaul.
The problem with 6 Bullets, besides not being particularly original, is its deadly slow pace. There’s no good reason for this thrill-free thriller to drag on for 115 minutes. For some reason, the filmmakers were intent on making a humorless, brooding film that has none of the adrenaline of the far superior Taken. And although Van Damme tries to make Samson a hero worth rooting for, he never really makes a connection with the audience. Part of that is connected to his relative lack of screen time. Flanigan (mostly a TV actor, he played John Sheppard in Stargate: Atlantis) is really the star here.
This is really by-the-numbers filmmaking. The Expendables 2 put Van Damme back on the big screen with a juicy role. It’s kind of depressing to see him mope his way through something like this after that comeback performance. He doesn’t even really get all that involved in the action, except to shoot guns at the generic bad guys responsible for trafficking underage girls. Maybe his next outing, the comedy Welcome to the Jungle, will allow him a better opportunity to display some charisma. At least his daughter, actually credited as both Bianca Bree and Bianca Van Varenberg, provides a little eye candy during her too brief performance.
The DVD is bare bones, containing just the movie. Anyone looking for insights into why 6 Bulletswas made in the first place will be sorely disappointed.
Update 20 Sep
6 Bullets review by terrorhook.com
Back again today with a fairly positive review for the Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer, ’6 Bullets’.
by Rick L. Blalock, 17 Sep 2012
6 Bullets : Release Year – 2012
Overall Rating : 6.5/10
Directed By : Ernie Barbarash
Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Expendables 2)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate : Atlantis)
Supplied By : Sony Pictures
Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock
Date Reviewed : September. 17, 2012
Veteran mercenary Samson Gaul knows that in the heat of battle, every bullet counts. He retired from combat when his actions resulted in the deaths of helpless victims, but now he’s the last hope for a desperate father. Mixed Martial Artist, Andrew Fayden knows how to fight, but alone he’s unprepared to navigate the corrupt streets of a foreign city to find his kidnapped daughter. Together, these warriors will stop at nothing to tear apart a vile network of criminals that preys upon the innocent.
In the film, 6 BULLETS, former world MMA Champion, Andrew Fayden comes to the country of Moldova(a former part of the Soviet Union), hoping to secure a deal for his comeback fight with a Euro promotion. The family checks into a hotel, their happier times are derailed when Andrew’s 14 year old daughter Becky is abducted. When Andrew’s own search for Becky, along with that of the Police fails, Andrew and his wife Monica, seek an alternative. This is when they track down Sampson Gaul, and ex-mercenary, with hope that he could be the man to locate and retrieve their daughter. But there is only one hitch. Ever since Gaul botched his last rescue mission, he’s quit that line of work, and is now working as a local butcher, and turning to copious amounts to help cope with the memories that still plague him. But, eventually, Gaul finds himself assuming the position, as he embarks on a journey through Russia’s corrupt underworld, where children are being sold into slavery. In this slave trade, virgins come with a high price tag, especially blonde American ones. to which description, Becky Fayden fits ideally. In the end, Gaul as well as his son work along side Becky’s parents as they attempt to rescue her.
6 BULLETS is a new film, which I requested a month or so ago to review for the site, without knowing much about it. I initially hadn’t even taken a look at its synopsis either. The one thing that I needed to know about the film was that it stared Mr. JCVD himself Jean-Claude Van Damme. I have always been a fan of Jean-Claude, starting with his beginnings in NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER. I have enjoyed a lot of his catalog, and while I do acknowledge that he has made a few “bad” films in his time, I always go into one of his newer efforts knowing that, out of all of the “old action stars”, Van Damme is one of the few that is still capable of making films that are half the budget of his biggest films, yet are still entertaining. As we found out with his decline to star in the first EXPENDABLES film, Jean-Claude, these days works a film, if he himself believes in the character that he plays. And with approaching films in this way, he has produced, over the last couple of years, some pretty decent direct-to-video films – film’s such as UNTIL DEATH, THE SHEPARD : BORDER PATROL, and ASSASSINATION GAMES, all films which I happened to enjoy.
Here in 6 BULLETS, Van Damme is back in another character driven film. In the film, he is “Samson Gaul”, a guy we once was the best Mercenary agent to call upon when it came to locating missing children. But this all changed after his last mission to rescue a young boy, resulted in the deaths of a few others.dove him out of the business, and into the business which his family was truly known for, butchery. He reluctantly works the day job to get by, but he is still traumatized by the events that ended his previous career. He is haunted by the spirits of 2 dead female children, who drive him to drink. Gaul, gets a wake up call of sorts, when he is asked to return to his old ways, by the parents of a girl, who has gone missing. Story wise, one might be quick to notice that 6 BULLETS bares a striking resemblance to the Liam Neeson starring film, TAKEN, which has since become sort of a cult hit with fans. I love TAKEN, and as a fan who has seen it more than once, I can almost surely say that without a doubt, that 6 BULLETS was definitely inspired by it. The plot outlines, are almost identical, with changes throughout for obvious reasons. But this is not to say that 6 BULLETS is a blatant copy of the Neeson film, as 6 BULLETS is more concentrated on Van Damme’s “Samson Gaul” character, rather than the slave trade which the film’s villains are involved. 6 BULLETS within itself, has as much to do with Gaul’s story of redemption, as it does with the search and rescue of Becky Fayden. So, yes, for people who enjoyed TAKEN, this is almost the same story, with a few things added in, so therefore, I think they will like it. If you are a fan of Van Damme, this also helps matters. I felt that Van Damme did a great job with his character in that he makes him believable, and at times, even sympathetic. On the action side of things, Jean-Claude Van Damme, now at 51 years of age, still has it – and it appears that he does most of it himself, without aid of a double. This truly can’t be said about people Steven Segal anymore, who’s put on the pounds (he’s always wearing a jacket or trench coat to hide it) , and in recent years, his efforts has all included body double/stunt double work. While the hand-to-hand combat isn’t in abundance here, the fight scenes that the film does have contain great choreography, which with, Van Damme proves to his that he can still high kick with the best of ‘em.
THe overall acting is surprisingly good. 6 BULLETS is definitely would i’d call a B-movie, but the actors in the film help make the film what it is. We have Joe Flanigan, who portrays an ex-MMA champ in Andrew Fayden. As an MMA fighter, i’m not entirely convinced by Flanigan, but in the role of concerned father, he works out good for the film. The same can be said for Anna-Louise Plowman, who is Andrew’s wife “Monica”. They work well together in creating a parental dynamic. As Becky, the couple’s daughter, who is abducted(then essentially becoming the center of the film, we have Charlotte Beaumont. This was my first time hearing of this young Actress, but personally, I felt that her performance was among the film’s best. Unlike TAKEN, they actually got someone to play the part, who was the correct age(this was one of the only problems that I had with TAKEN), and she acted naturally in the role. Also among the cast are Van Damme’s own children, Kristopher and Bianca. Kristopher actually has a supporting role, playing the son of Van Damme’s character, so their interaction of course comes natural. As an actor though, although he has a few roles under his belt, on screen, he still comes off as being green(aka new), to the whole thing. It’s still early in Kristopher’s career, so we can hope that he will only improve as he moves along. Bianca has a small role as a young lady, who lures Becky in. So, in other words, he character sets the story in motion. While it’s a smaller role, for a fan, it’s kind of fun to see almost the full Van Varenberg clan all in one place.
I enjoyed 6 BULLETS for what it is. It has a solid story considering that it’s low budget, and its performances are good. My main, and only real complaint in regards to the film as a whole, is that I felt that it ran a little too long. It’s nearly 2 hours in length, and because of this, there were times where the film seemed to drag. I believe that it would’ve suffered no damage had the film been trimmed a little.
3/10 Acid in the face, a few stabbings, gunshot wounds, along with other wounds, their are also a few burned and mutilated corpses.
4/10 The score is a mix of suspense and action.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I liked 6 BULLETS well enough. Is it Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best? No. But truly speaking, there’s really nothing that bad about it, really, unless one considers a low budget to be a hindering fault. 6 BULLETS felt very much like an old school action film, the kind that Van Damme fans are used to seeing him in. As I mentioned, it’s a lot like 2008′s TAKEN. 6 BULLETS may not have it’s overall star power or budget, but here, Van Damme leads the charge quite nicely, making his film worth while. It’s another keeper from Van Damme. All I can say is bring on the next one!
source (no actual permalink to the article, you’d probably have to manually search the terrorhook.com website for this entry by its name ’6 Bullets’ in the pages index)
6 Bullets aka The Butcher review by cityonfire.com
by HKFanatic, 20 Sep 2012
6 Bullets (2012) Review aka The Butcher
2011′s “Assassination Games” was anticipated as the beginning of a possible comeback for Jean-Claude Van Damme: it paired the aging action star with hot newcomer Scott Adkins and managed to secure decent theatrical distribution in the United States, a first for Van Damme since 1999′s “Universal Soldier: The Return.” Fans were doubly disappointed, then, when “Assassination Games” turned out to be a lukewarm effort. Most viewers cited the lack of action as a major flaw of the film, which Scott Adkins would later explain was the result of the filmmakers being pressed for time.
Thus, expectations weren’t exactly high when it was announced Jean-Claude Van Damme would reteam with the director of “Assassination Games,” Ernie Barbarash, for his next film “The Butcher” – even though Van Damme promised he’d been hitting the gym for the role and that fans would notice a ‘physical difference’ in him. Now Sony has unceremoniously delivered the movie to DVD under the new title “6 Bullets.” The physical difference Van Damme spoke of seems to be the many scenes of him without a shirt on (and he’s still looking buff). Although the generic title doesn’t help its case, “6 Bullets” is actually a step above “Assassination Games” and many of Van Damme’s other recent direct-to-video outings such as “Second in Command” and “The Hard Corps.”
The setting remains the scene – a drab Eastern European country – and Barbarash maintains the same dour, color-drained look as “Assassination Games,” but this time around there’s a good deal more action and Van Damme seems invested in his role. Van Damme’s son, Kristopher Van Varenberg, returns as well – although he’s been criticized for delivering stiff, unnatural performances in movies like “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” and “Dragon Eyes,” Kristopher actually acquits himself rather well here. It likely helps that Kristopher is playing the role he was born to play: Van Damme’s character’s son! But the duo have a warm familial bond that shows onscreen and adds some much needed humanity to what is otherwise a very dark film.
The story of “6 Bullets” offers a twist to the familiar plot of “Taken.” An MMA fighter (Joe Flanigan) and his wife are in Moldova for a big match when their 14 year-old daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers. Desperate to find their daughter in a country where they don’t speak the language or know the local customs, they turn to Van Damme’s Samson Gaul. Van Damme plays a tortured mercenary with the soul of a poet – the kind of role he practically invented. His character is haunted by past mistakes but is the best at locating and extracting missing children.
The real issue with “6 Bullets” is that the film’s dreary look and depressing human trafficking plot mean that there’s not much of the usual escapism or, well, entertainment value that you’d expect from a Van Damme action movie. As good as Van Damme is at playing the melancholy ass-kicker, scenes of underage children being held in captivity and bodies burned by acid baths almost make one nostalgic for JCVD’s wise-cracking “Time Cop” days. Regardless, “6 Bullets” is one of the better direct-to-video movies of recent years and still miles ahead of Steven Seagal’s regular offerings. The 115 minute runtime could have easily been trimmed to a much tighter 90 minutes, but if all you want is to see Van Damme filet a few bad guys with a kitchen knife and shoot a rocket launcher at a jeep, you’ll go home happy.HKFanatic’s Rating: 6/10
Update 23 Sep
6 Bullets (a J!-ENT DVD Review) by j-entonline.com
by Dennis Amith, 7 Sep 2012
6 Bullets review
Since the release of “JCVD” back in 2008, there has been an increase of quality in the work of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s action films.
Sure, he has been in bigger budget films recently with “The Expendables 2″ but his direct-to video films from the upcoming “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” to “Assassination Games” are not only showing that Van Damme still has it! But also, that even though he’s older, he can still kick a lot of ass and is still an effective action hero.
Here we are with his latest direct-to-video film “6 Bullets” and since “JCVD”, I have to say that this is probably his best direct-to-video film yet.
Playing the character of Samson “The Butcher” Gaul, Van Damme is calm, cool, still in great shape and the amount of damage his character creates is still very high and impressive. But what makes the film so exciting is the fact that it does focus on a storyline that still resonates strongly with audiences is foreign abductions of children.
Yes, we have seen it before with the Liam Neeson “Taken” films but this is a Van Damme film, we watch to see how his character takes on the multiple enemies and this time, he’s not alone. Not only does Van Damme’s son Kristopher Van Varenberg also stars in his film, playing his son Selwyn, we also get to see the abducted daughter’s family get some piece of the action.
Last time I have seen Joe Flanigan was on “Stargate: Atlantis” and while he is tattooed up and playing former MMA fighter wanting to make a comeback, his wife Monica (played by Anna-Louise Plowman) also shows that she is not the woman to frak with, as she has no problems shooting anyone with a gun and crunching balls (I mean this literally). These two family members are not the banal, helpless family who stay at home. These two parents will do whatever it takes to find their daughter and that was quite interesting to see. Sure, it does get a bit farfetched towards the more action scenes, but It’s a Van Damme film!
But for a film budgeted at $10 million and still a small budget independent film, director Ernie Barbarash and his crew was effective in using their locations to make the film energetic, exciting and believable. Also, having watched Chad and Evan Law’s “The Hit List”, their writing was much more improved for “6 Bullets” and the pacing was much better for this film.
As for the DVD, picture quality and audio quality were very good as one can expect from an action film on DVD. But there are no special features which is disappointing. Would have loved to see an interview with Van Damme and the cast or even an audio commentary included.
But overall, “6 Bullets” is definitely one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s better action films to be released on direct-to-video and definitely his best film to come since “JCVD”. “6 Bullets” is an exciting popcorn action film and yet, another film that continues to show that Jean-Claude Van Damme still has it and can still kick a lot of ass! Recommended!
J!-Ent rating: 3.5/5
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“6 Bullets” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital. For DVD, picture quality is good. Considering it’s a lower budget independent film, location shots were well-selected, lighting was very good and for the most part, everything looked good as one can expect on DVD. It would have been nice to have a Blu-ray release and seeing this film in HD but for the most part, colors are natural, black levels are deep.
Audio was very good, as one can expect from a film with a lot of guns and explosions, good use of the surround channels and LFE. Dialogue is clear and heard no problems during my viewing of the film.
The show is presented in English SDH and French subtitles.
There are no special features included on the “6 Bullets” DVD.
JCVD in Six Bullets by Silver Screen Slags.com
published on 23 Sep 2012
Fresh from his big screen appearance in The Expendables 2, Jean-Claude Van Damme continues to surprise fans with another high-octane straight to DVD feature, Six Bullets. Director, Ernie Barbarash (Assassination Games, Ticking Clock) knows what it takes to make a decent Van Damme film, with Six Bullets proving to be one of the Belgian stars’ most enjoyable features in recent years.
Van Damme plays Samson Gaul, a reformed mercenary turned rescue expert coaxed into rescuing the daughter of down-on-his-luck professional fighter, Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan). Soon Fayden and Gaul are caught up in a world of Government corruption and brutal sex trafficking.
Barbarash and Van Damme impressed in their prior collaboration Assassination Games and fortunately, Six Bullets sticks to this winning formula. Ever present are the slickly choreographed action scenes and stunts that we would expect from a Van Damme vehicle, where he reminds us that he is the quintessential action star. Opening with Gaul on a tense undercover rescue mission, Six Bullets features a striking array of hand to hand combat, shoot-outs and motorbike escapes, remaining fast paced and slickly produced throughout.
Whilst Six Bullets does stick to a simple narrative (showing some parallels to 2008′s Taken), writers Chad and Evan Law include enough surprising plot twists to keep the story feeling fresh and exciting. Time is also taken to establish a moral background to Gaul – he is a man haunted by the guilt and regret of previous failed rescue missions, determined not to let the same happen again. This allows Van Damme to remind us that he is equally as convincing giving an emotive, developed performance as he is during a more action based role. This is arguably his strongest direct to video turn since 2008′s stellar JCVD. When Van Damme is not at the forefront of the action, Joe Flanigan steps in, proving to be a convincing tough guy and completely likeable action star.
It’s also particularly enjoyable to see Van Damme working with his children, Kristopher and Bianca Van Varenberg. Both of whom are charismatic additions to the cast of Six Bullets.Not all of the supporting turns are matched with the same success, but this is nothing new in the straight to video world.
Six Bullets excels through its tense atmosphere and exciting action sequences, skillfully handled by director, Ernie Barbarash. Jean-Claude Van Damme continues to show us that he is one of the coolest, most watchable action stars working today. This is definitely one to look out for, action aficionados.Rating: 4/5Six Bullets is released on October the 1st. You can order it from Amazon UK.
DVD Review '6 Bullets', by mediamikes.com
by Mike Gencarelli, 7 Sep 2012
DVD Review 6 Bullets
Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 0 out of 5 stars
Especially after seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme kick some ass in this summer’s “The Expendables”, I am gung-ho to watch him in just about anything I can right now, so this release is completely welcomed. Honestly, the film is quite decent for a direct-to-DVD release. Jean-Claude Van Damme even get in a few decent roundhouse kicks. The cast is also rounded out with Joe Flanigan from “Stargate: Atlantis”. But overall, “6 Bullets” packs some good action and one hell of an intense plot.
Official Synopsis: Veteran mercenary Samson Gaul (Jean-Claude Van Damme) knows that in the heat of battle, every bullet counts. He retired from combat when his actions resulted in the deaths of helpless victims, but now he’s the last hope for a desperate father. Mixed Martial Artist, Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan, Stargate: Atlantis) knows how to fight, but alone he’s unprepared to navigate the corrupt streets of a foreign city to find his kidnapped daughter. Together, these warriors will stop at nothing to tear apart a vile network of criminals that preys upon the innocent.
Fans of Van Damme are going to jump all over this release for sure. I am not sure why though Sony decided to skip a Blu-ray release for this, which is basically the norm these days, especially for an action film. If you prefer digital this film was also release in various VOD formats, so for $3.99 you honestly can’t go wrong. Though if you are looking for any special features, you will be disappointed since this is completely bare-bones.
Editor’s note: amazon.uk offers the Blu-Ray disc version, up for release on Oct 1st
Update 2 Oct 2012
DVD Video Review: 6 Bullets, by dvdtalk.com
by Ian Jane, 26 Sep 2012
Directed by Ernie Barbarash (the man who directed Cube: Zero) and written by Chad and Evan Law (who also did uncredited script work on the recent Dolph Lundgren movie, One In The Chamber), 2012′s 6 Bullets stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a mercenary named Samson Gaul. When we meet him, he’s working deep undercover on a mission to save a young boy from some slave traffickers. He saves the boy but two young girls die in the process, and at the behest of his friend Inspector Kvitko (Steve Nicolson) – the only honest cop he knows – he retires to leave the police work to the police.
Some time later, an MMA fighter named Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) shows up with his wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman) and twelve year old daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont) in tow. Shortly after the Fayden’s arrive at their hotel, Becky goes missing and it doesn’t take them long to figure out that she’s been kidnapped. They talk to a man at the American embassy named Selwyn Gaul (Kristopher Van Varenberg – Van Damme’s real life son) who recommends they talk to his father, Samson, who now lives a peaceful life as a butcher. Of course, they approach him and he initially resists, telling them instead to go to the police but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he’ll soon change his mind. When he does just that, he and Becky’s parents cleverly track her down to an abandoned soviet era prison and decide to bring the right to the kidnappers. Unfortunately for Becky, things are more complicated than that and this plot runs all the way up to a high ranking internal security officer named Stelu (Louis Dempsey) who plans to use the young woman to cut a deal with a Middle Eastern man who has a thing for blonde American virgins.
While 6 Bullets (a title that has absolutely nothing to do with movie at all) is about twenty minutes longer than it probably needed to be, it atones for that by remaining reasonably entertaining throughout. Those expecting much in the way of creativity or originality might walk away disappointed, as this borrows a bit from movies like Taken and, well, whatever ‘bad ass retires and comes out of retirement to help people’ film you’d care to name but there’s definitely some fun to be had here for the action movie fan. There are moments where the film’s modest budget definitely shines through (the shot showing the aftermath of the explosions Gaul cases in the opening scene being the most obvious one) but Van Damme is decent enough here to carry the picture.
Which leads to the performances. Van Damme’s fans will dig what he does here. It’s nothing he hasn’t done before but he does it well, occasionally brooding over his past but lighting up in the action scenes and showing off some impressive moves while taking on all comers. He doesn’t have a whole lot of chemistry with Flanigan and Plowman, in fact that don’t have a whole lot of chemistry with one another, but once they grab a handful of weapons and head out to take Becky back, it doesn’t matter. We can even look past the fact that Flanigan’s character says he’s never used a gun before but turns out to be an instant marksman when it comes time to fight. Young Charlotte Beaumont is decent enough in her part but the film never really calls for her to be as terrified as you’d expect someone in her situation to be, so we’re maybe not as sympathetic as a story like this would hope, but she does fine with the material she’s been given here.
Ultimately the movie more or less deals almost entirely in clichés but it’ll give Van Damme fans what they want, even if there are a few stretches where JCVD isn’t really on camera that much. The fight choreography and shoot out scenes are done well even if the movie does depend too heavily no close up shaky cam shots. There are no surprises here at all, but this is a completely serviceable popcorn film, fun to watch and it won’t make you think – good escapism, really, no more and no less.
6 Bullets arrives on DVD in a nice looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that keeps the director’s gritty aesthetic in check. Color reproduction is fine, though the film isn’t the most colorful looking picture you’re ever going to see given that much of it takes place inside an aging prison, while black levels remain strong and stable throughout. There aren’t any problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues and the image is clean and perfectly satisfactory from start to finish.
An English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track provides ample boom for the action scenes while still managing to deliver perfectly audible dialogue. The levels are well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to complain about at all. Bass response has some good kick to it and the effects and score are both punchy enough to work. An optional French language track is also included in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and optional subtitles are offered in English, English SDH and French.
Aside from a few promo spots for other Sony releases and the standard menu and chapter stops that you’d expect to find on a DVD, this disc is completely barebones.
6 Bullets really doesn’t bring anything new at all to the action movie genre but it does what it does quite well, offering some decent suspense, some solid fight scenes, a couple of good shoot outs and just enough style. This isn’t Van Damme’s best, it’s not even the best of his recent DTV outings, but it is entertaining and recommended for fans, and if Sony’s disc is barebones, at least it looks and sounds quite good.
Van Damme Treads Familiar Territory in 6 Bullets, by filmophilia.com
by Erlingur Gretar, 29 Sep
He also knows his target group very well. And that’s why there’s nothing particularly surprising about his newest film, 6 Bullets, which has just been released on video. Not that I’m complaining.
Van Damme is playing yet another One Man, now an aging but still terrifically cut ex-mercenary, sent straight into the plot of Taken to retrieve the kidnapped daughter of a rich American MMA fighter. Although the father’s profession suggests it, there is no clear hint of any double team action in 6 Bullets.
While he did show up for The Expendables 2 this summer, a half-send up, half-exploitation of the hard-knuckled action genre, there is nothing self-deprecating or sarcastic about 6 Bullets. Van Damme is all business, all serious and unforgiving, and I for one think that might be a good thing. As long as the action is executed well enough and JCVD is badass enough, it should give fans of old-fashioned One Man action a good 90 minutes of entertainment. It won’t reach far outside the core fan demographic, but if Van Damme looks okay with it, I’m okay with it.
6 Bullets is out already.
Update 12 Oct
Six Bullets sees JCVD teamed with Joe Flanigan, by impactonline
By Mike Leeder, 10 Oct 2012. Good review, except for the unfortunate mistake about Stargate Universe!
Six Bullets sees Jean-Cluade Van Damme teamed with Stargate Universe’s Joe Flanigan. One of JCVD’s biggest fans and occasional collaborator, Mike Leeder assesses the result…
Here’s Six Bullets - a movie that features a kidnapping in Europe and a father trying to get his daughter back… but as much as we love Taken it wasn’t the first movie to feature a similar plot and it won’t be the last! Here, Jean-Claude plays Samson Gaul, a highly skilled soldier turned mercenary who until recently specialised in rescuing kidnapped children – he was the best in the business and the police were even prepared to turn a blind eye to his activities until his most recent job went wrong: a child was saved but several more were killed when things went wrong. Gaul seems intent on trying to find redemption in the bottom of a bottle and focusing his mind on something, anything but the events that haunt him.
Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) is an American MMA champion hoping to restart his career with a major fight in Eastern Europe, but his hopes for a comeback are thrown into disarray when his daughter Monica is kidnapped. When the law is unable to help, and his own attempts at finding her lead him into nothing but trouble, he turns to Samson Gaul who might just find the redemption he needs in rescuing the girl.
The Van Damme come back continues here, his recent return to the big screen in The Expendables 2 caught a lot of people’s attention, and Six Bullets (previously calledThe Butcher) serves as a very impressive DVD premiere. Jean-Claude is no longer the fresh faced idealistic hero from Bloodsport and Kickboxer. He’s lived an eventful life, and experienced the best and worst aspects of success and he brings that real world experience into play with his character Samson Gaul within the film. Gaul is a hard man in a tough world, struggling to deal with his own demons, riddled with guilt and self-doubt and trying to drown his sorrows in the bottom of a bottle or three. A job went wrong badly, and it’s left its mark on him, he’s pushed away his family, his friends and turns down the initial request to save the daughter, as he’s scared of what might happen, who might get caught in the crossfire, scared of the prospect of being haunted by another ghost of someone he couldn’t save. It’s a strong turn from Jean-Claude as an actor, there are moments when his performance really hits the nail and moves you, proving once again that with the right director he’s still a force to be reckoned with as an actor as well as a screen fighter. One scene between him and the character being played by Kristopher Van Varenberg really showcased how strong an actor JC can be: they’re having an argument about the mess Jean-Claude as made of things, and it ends with Jean-Claude in tears and you really feel for his character and the personal hell he’s found himself in. And yes, we know that in the end, he has to step up and take action, to heal himself in the blood of battle.
Joe Flanigan, a fan-favourite from the acclaimed Stargate Universe makes a believable MMA champion; complete with UFC style tattoos and suitable gruffness that hides his true feelings for his daughter and those around him. He also handles himself well in the action scenes, and I would be interested to see him in further action offerings. Jean-Claude’s two eldest children, Kristopher Van Varenberg and Bianca Van Varenberg (Bianca Bree as she’s also known) also appear in the film. Certain critics seem to have an issue with Jean-Claude’s children appearing in his films, but both acquit themselves well here. After playing the victim in Assassination Games (as the comatose wife of Scott Adkin’s character) Bianca gets to play the bad girl as one of the people involved in the kidnapping of Flanigan’s onscreen daughter - only to get herself in over her head. Bianca looks great, having the best of her father and mother (Glady’s Portugese) in terms of looks, and seems to be enjoying playing the bad girl. She’ll soon be seen battling alien invaders in the UK in the upcoming UFO which also features a cameo by her father. Kristopher Van Varenberg gets what is probably one of his best roles so far, playing the estranged son of Van Damme’s character, and their interplay at times reflects elements of their real life interaction and gives a glimpse at what Kristopher could really be capable of as an actor.
Now, the film is dealing with a dark subject human trafficking, so yes it’s a project that’s dark in tone and context – it’s not going to be laced with snappy one-liners and jokes. The film’s well-paced by Barbarash; it’s an intelligent serious thriller that proves once again that Barbarash is a director to keep an eye on. He knows how to make the best of his budgets, get the most from practical locations, as well as give his cast the right direction and allow them to breathe life into their characters and doesn’t underplay the action. I particularly like the dark tone of the opening as we’re introduced to the world of child trafficking, it’s disturbing as we’re drawn into a dark world but without seeing anything that could be considered voyeuristic, and he knows what to show and what to leave to the imagination. He gets a great turn from Van Damme, giving him several scenes that stretch him as an actor, as his character struggles to deal with his own demons and so much more.
Action-wise, while we’d love to see Jean-Claude letting rip with some of his exquisite kicks to full effect once more, the tone of the film wouldn’t suit that kind of action, it’s down and dirty and it’s nice to see elements of Silat being thrown into the mix. There are several solid action sequences, some of which are very violent but all work within the framework of the film. The film’s tech credits are good and the soundtrack enhances the film without becoming intrusive. The script by siblings Chad and Evan Law is one of the best for a Van Damme film in a long time. (We’ll be talking to the writers about the film shortly and their experience working on the project)
Six Bullets gets the thumbs up from Impact. It’s a very solid DVD thriller and a great slice of the new and improved Van Dammage, and we’ve been looking forward to seeing for a few years. Here’s to more projects from all involved and we’d love to see a further collaboration or two between Van Damme and Barbarash, they’re currently batting two for two and with a bigger budget and a bit more time we know they could unleash the ultimate Van Damme movie we’re waiting for….
Six Bullets is rated 15 and is released by StudioCanal. It hit shelves this week…
Six Bullets: Ernie Barbarash gets Ballistic, interview with director Ernie Barbarash by impactonline
Interview by Mike Leeder, posted on 10 Oct 2012.
Van Damme’s latest project is Six Bullets. Mike Leeder caught up with director Ernie Barbarash for the following skip-chat about the JC project…
Impact: How would you pitch Six Bullets/The Butcher to a prospective viewer?
Ernie Barbarash: Best Damn Movie Ever! – OK, for real now… I guess it would be something like: A retired mercenary with deadly skills and a hell of a guilty conscience helps a family navigate the sex trafficking underworld to find their kidnapped daughter. I’m not great at log lines…
Impact: It’s your 2nd film with Jean-Claude Van Damme, how would you describe the working relationship the two of you have? Will there be further collaborations; you seem to know how to play to “JC’s” strengths
EB: I really enjoy working with JC. He’s a terrific and often underrated actor whose commitment to doing good work despite tight budget and schedules is really crucial to the success of these lower budget independent films. JC gives it his all and I think he appreciates that I give him honest feedback and that I work day and night to make the movie the best it can be despite limited resources.
I originally come from directing theatre and I think that’s where I learned to really collaborate with actors in a very serious and practical way – in a way that they can feel that they’re really part of the creative process and not just pawns in the director’s scheme. I feel that it’s important to really take actors’ suggestions seriously and try to make many of them work if you expect them to listen to your ideas in return. In terms of further collaborations, yes, we’re trying to put together another project – it’s an excellent script but it’s a bigger budget movie so it might take longer than usual to set up.
Impact: The film was originally called The Butcher during production but retitled to Six Bullets, can you explain the relevance of the original title, and which do you prefer?
EB: Actually, the film was originally called Six Bullets, then after Jean-Claude and I reworked the original script we renamed itThe Butcher since that seemed to us to be more relevant since we had the idea that his “day job” was a butcher —- and of course, in his darkest hours, that’s how his character thinks of himself because he was responsible for the deaths of innocents, and his skills are those of a killer, not a detective, etc. His “friend” the detective once actually says to him ”Stick to what you know, Butcher” – so it all seemed to make a lot of sense… However, the distributors who’d pre-bought the film apparently hated the new name so we had no choice but to go back to the original Six Bullets. Personally, I think The Butcher is much more effective since it has a lot more to do with the story – but sadly I don’t finance the movie so I didn’t get my way on this issue.
Impact: The film has a ‘Taken’esque feel to it, was this something you were aware of, did that film have any influence upon this movie?
EB: Of course we were aware of the similarities – and we both loved the movie, HOWEVER, we never set out to copy it — the script that came to us already had the kidnapping aspect (as do many other movies) — I think the fact that we shot in Europe instead of America also gave it a similar feel. Human trafficking – or let’s call it what it is – modern day slavery – is a worldwide epidemic facing us today – really a cancer that you think should have been eradicated by the 21st century… and my wife and I donate money to groups that combat human trafficking so in that way it was personally a very interesting and important topic for me to explore in the film. One of the reasons we made JCVD’s character a gun-for-hire instead of just making the lead the father character Joe Flanigan played was that we did want to make it different enough from Taken.
Impact: How would you describe your approach to film-making? What was your strongest memory from the making of this film, and what would you say are the strongest moments in the film that stand out?EB: Wow. My approach to filmmaking… Not sure you have enough space to write about “everything” I guess in a general way I think that my job is to give ”the fifth dimension” to the story – to really bring it to life visually, to figure out the metaphor, to figure out how it’s relevant – to figure out its rhythms and energy… I always feel a little weird talking about my own “process” since it sounds so pretentious and really I always feel like I’m still always learning – and this is my 10th movie in 8 years… Maybe I should focus on the most important first step – at least to me – I always work the story first – to make sure that there are enough surprises, enough turns, enough going on really. Audiences today are much more story-savvy than all those audiences for whom the old screenwriting books were written – and of course they’ve seen the trailer so they know basically what the story’s about so you can’t spend too much time on the setup. On the other hand, you also have to spend ENOUGH time to set up the people in the story – especially your hero to understand his or her inner problem – to understand what makes him or her tick…
Also, it’s incredibly important to have characters who really have an internal problem that is intertwined with their external problem. Without an internal problem, a character is just a person going through the motions. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you need to start prepping the best possible script. It sounds very cool and romantic to say that “oh – we saved the movie in the edit room”. 99.9% of the time, that just doesn’t work. The old adage stands: “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” A lot of films get ruined because they’re rushed into production before the script is ready…
Strongest memories from the making of the film… Let’s see – meeting JCVD in Thailand and Vancouver to discuss the story, the script, the characters… Shooting in Jilava Prison in Romania – a real working prison – and we shot in the old “Soviet and pre-Soviet” section of the prison – some seriously horrible spaces there where you can just imagine all the tortured souls that were imprisoned, tortured and died there… And JC, being super generous, went around signing autographs for prisoners and even having a long, positive talk with them that I heard many found very inspiring… Shooting the opening sequence knife fight with the help of our brilliant stunt coordinator Diyan Hristov from Bulgaria, as well as JCVD’s friend Fred Maestro, the Silat master with all of his personal crazy hidden weapons he showed us every chance he got… And of course I really enjoyed working with the cast from the US, the UK, Romania and the Romanian crew and my great collaborators, DP Phil Parmet, editor Pete Devaney and my partners in crime – producers Patrick Newall, Justin Bursch and Brad Krevoy. As always there were challenges but as they say “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Impact: The film sees Jean-Claude playing a troubled soul; your 2 movies with Jean-Claude have been very ‘dark’ do you want to do something that is a little lighter in tone?
EB: You’re right – darkness always seems to find me – and a part of me certainly craves it — but yes – I would LOVE to do a comedy. It’s funny; I used to direct a lot of comedies in the theatre – Moliere, Shakespeare, Neil Simon, Ken Ludwig… But in film, as a practical matter of getting financed or getting hired, people often just want you to repeat what you’ve just done – everyone tends to put you in a box and that’s all they want from you – if they want comedy they’ll go to the proven comedy guys but I’d very much like to get over that hurdle. Hell, I’d love to do a comedy with JCVD! We both know he’s got a great sense of humor and it’s really time he did his “Kindergarten Cop”, if you know what I mean…
Impact: How did you find working with Joe Flanigan, and Jean-Claude’s children Kristopher and Bianca on the movie?
EB: All the cast on this movie were great actors and terrific people. I’ve read a few reviews that criticize some of the acting and I just can’t agree with that. Joe Flanigan was a real joy to work with – a consummate pro. The thing about actors who’ve done a lot of TV, especially TV with action elements is that they can work fast, they make strong choices and they can adjust on the spot to anything that comes their way. And someone as talented as Joe – well, I sure hope that I can find more projects to work on with Joe.
It was great to work with Kris and Bianca too. They’re both growing a lot as actors — and I’m very proud of the fact that we crafted bigger roles for them in this film than Assassination Games. There’s no other way for actors to get ahead and develop – they need material that they can really sink their teeth into. I’m glad Kris could actually play JC’s son – they look so much alike and they have a very similar spirit… and I LOVED creating Bianca’s bad girl role – especially as she played a victim in Assassination Games. I think she did a great job – and it’s funny – I remember pitching the idea to JC in a coffee shop in Vancouver last year - “let’s make Bianca a bad guy! She’s in league with the traffickers!” He loved the idea and we were off and Bianca really embodied that role incredibly well.
I also think the rest of our cast did a great job – Anna-Louise Plowman as Joe’s wife built a terrific performance, Charley Beaumont as the kidnapped daughter was awesome and a real pro despite her age, Steve Nicolson as the Moldavian detective was masterful and Mark Lewis as Bogdanov the mob boss and of course both Uriel Pollack and Louis Dempsey as the two key villains NAILED it and I can’t imagine the movie without any of them.
Impact: What’s next for Ernie B?
EB: I’m not quite sure yet. I’m attached to a number of projects that are all waiting for either the cast or the final piece of financing to fall into place. I’ve just written a book adaptation for Lionsgate that’s about to go into production in November and having just finished another family movie just a short while ago I’m actually looking forward to a bit of a break to spend time with my family and to maybe even write a few ideas that have been racing around in my head with no time to land on paper!
Update 11 November
Six Bullets Review, by AVForums.com
Editor’s note: You’ll find below a 2623 words review
focusing mainly on Van Damme’s whole acting career,
with the review of the movie itself
being a relatively small portion of it.
Don’t lose your patience,
just scroll down to the italics text in case.
Six Bullets Review
Written by Cas Harlow
published 11th November 2012
As a long-term Seagal apologist it pains me to say it but the portly Buddhist fighting cupboard could only dream of making a film as good as Van Damme’s latest, Six Bullets. The film isn’t even that good – by conventional, mainstream standards – it just happens to rank amidst the crème de la crème of straight-to-video actioners. Boasting a reasonably coherent and unusually twist-laden story, some well-developed characterisations, halfway decent performances and – most importantly – several impressive action set-pieces, Jean-Claude Van Damme has successfully managed to capitalise on his recent, atypically villainous (and reasonably well-praised) Big Screen Expendables 2 performance by delivering to fans a solid DTV action-thriller that engages for its unusually substantial near-two-hour duration. And with another, even darker and more impressive-looking Universal Soldier sequel around the corner, it seems that the Muscles from Brussels is committed to the kind of comeback that escaped Seagal some time ago.
Samson Gaul is an ex-foreign legion mercenary-turned-missing-children-specialist, whose latest assignment goes drastically wrong when his actions leave four children amidst the casualties. Traumatised by this horrific turn of events, he retires from action and takes up work as a part-time butcher and full-time drunk, but when a visiting American couple lose their teenage daughter to sex traffickers, it’s up to Gaul to pull himself together and get back into the game.
For years Van Damme has been struggling in the same DTV mire that has plagued numerous other 80s action relics ever since the bubble burst in the mid-nineties. Seagal, Lundgren, Snipes – and even Stallone – all trod this same unstable ground at various points in their careers and the majority of them still enjoy residence there. Indeed, if not for Stallone’s valiant efforts to bring old school hardcore action back into the fore (Rambo 4, Rocky 6, and the Expendables movies, not to mention his upcoming Bullet to the Head, which looks excellent), I doubt if any of them would have even had a chance of returning to the Big Screen.
Van Damme had really been through the ringer, both professionally and privately. Behind the scenes he would suffer from broken down relationships, horrific custody battles, drug abuse issues and worse. His movies would often reflect this, with some of his absolute worst efforts being plagued by body double work which made you wonder whether he was even still capable of the one thing that fans expected from him: action.
Ironically, Van Damme had always wanted to break away from dumb actioners. Sure, he probably understood that the shift was only going to be a slight one – his aspirations were not unrealistic; he just wanted to do intelligent actioners rather than dumb ones. He wanted to have better characters to play; a better script to work with. He wanted to act.
What? Van Damme? Act? You’re having a laugh! No, I kid you not. If you have any doubts – which you undoubtedly do, given his track record: he’s more famous for playing two dumb characters in a movie than one single character with a brain – then I highly recommend you push the clever satire JCVD to the top of your Lovefilm rental list. Aside from being a decent drama-thriller, it’s got one of the most heartfelt, genuine scenes in it – arguably the most sincere piece of dialogue ever delivered by any of his counterparts (up to and including Stallone); a true bit of touching ‘acting’ even though, in reality, Van Damme didn’t have to act, he just had to tell his side of the story.
Anybody who has seen JCVD – anybody who has watched that scene – will realise that Van Damme is capable of far more than just doing his trademark splits or high-kicks or spinning kicks or any other damn type of kicks. Hell, I reckon if you had him do any of his movies over again, only in his native French language, you would be shocked by the noticeable improvement in his performance. JCVD was not enough though, and so, despite it being a desperate last cry from Van Damme to be taken seriously, the man would still struggle to escape the DTV pit of cannon-fodder actioners.
Thankfully, he had a few high cards up his sleeve. Perhaps not aces, but good cards nonetheless. Universal Soldier: Regeneration is, without a doubt, one of the best DTV movies that I have ever seen. Although it doesn’t have the budget, or the cheesy over-the-top entertainment value, of the original Universal Soldier, it makes up for that in understated menace and chilling atmosphere. It’s a brutal, punishing movie and, even playing a seemingly soulless UniSol, Van Damme managed to bring a striking amount of tragedy to the role – the same role which, well over a decade earlier, was pure mainstream fluff for action audiences to lap up.
He’s also been working on a labour-of-love project for several years now – The Eagle Path (or whatever they finally decide to call it) – a film which he not only stars in but wrote, edited, produced anddirected. I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see if it’s actually any good but it’s certainly something he has invested in. He also finally agreed to participate in Stallone’s ensemble Expendables franchise, taking a villainous role in the sequel and proving himself to be one of the absolute highlights in an otherwise pretty mediocre follow-up (indeed he was so good that Stallone is trying to coax him back for the third movie to play the twin-brother of his ill-fated villain from Expendables 2!). He has also filmed another action-thriller with director Peter Hyams, the man who is probably most famous for doing the Connery High Noon-in space, Outland; Capricorn One, and the sequel to Kubrick’s seminal 2001, 2010. Hyams has also given us two of Van Damme’s most successful ‘golden era’ actioners – the original Universal Soldier (he would go on to serve as DOP on Universal Soldier: Regeneration, with his son John Hyams directing) and Sudden Death. Reuniting Van Damme and Hyams on the upcoming Enemies Closer (yes, another one which will probably have a last-minute name-change) looks like it could also be something special. Even before then we’re going to get Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning, which has already had rave reviews on the festival circuit (no, not Cannes). I simply can’t wait for that one.
So what does he offer us in the meantime? Six Bullets – formerly titled The Butcher (which would have worked just as effectively) – is actually a reasonably good DTV offering. It may not quite have the moody atmosphere, violent brutality or cool stylishness of Universal Soldier: Regeneration, but, aside from that, it’s the best actioner Van Damme’s done in almost a decade (since his Wake of Death / In Helldouble-header). Ironically, what lets it down is not the story or the performances, but the style and direction – if this had been shot with the same gusto as Wake of Death (or US:R), it would have probably been shouted about a great deal more; with the same cries of theatrical release coming from fans who, for once, wouldn’t have been completely delusional.
Story-wise it may not seem like much, but Six Bullets actually appears to have had a fair amount of thought put into it. The entire plot resembles some kind of bastardised hybrid of Taken and Man on Fire – which is far from a bad thing – only, here, almost every time you expect it to go in one direction, it shifts off-target slightly and throws you off-track. It’s far from commendably original, but it does have a nice fresh feel around the edges – it starts with Van Damme’s character establishing himself through a huge action-scene where bodies fall and things blow up, and makes you think you’re watchingjust another Van Damme film; but then it throws a spanner in the works (in a good way) and suddenly has him mess up. It repeats this formula a couple of times and, before you know it, you’re actually enjoying the innovation. Of course, in the meantime, as Van Damme’s character is getting put through the ringer, the man who spent a considerable portion of JCVD pleading to be given an opportunity to act gets to do just that.
It may not be JCVD-quality, but it’s sure as hell a lot better than you’d expect from Van Damme or (m)any of his brethren. He broods and convincingly drowns his sorrows in alcohol; he’s literally haunted by the mutilated bodies of the girls he got killed – he’s a tortured anti-hero who has more depth and character to him than a dozen high-kicking half-wits from the likes of Double Impact and Maximum Risk. It’s undoubtedly the best acting performance of hisaction career, and, considering he is in the best physical shape he’s been in for well over a decade, it’s one of the best action performances he’s given in quite some time too. Now if only he could combine this kind of more multi-dimensional character and subsequent stronger performance with a production that actually valued his talent, and delivered in terms of direction, style and, I’m afraid to say, production value.
Unfortunately, for all the positives to Six Bullets, it still resides firmly in the low budget DTV category. It may well bethe best of the best when it comes to DTV offerings, but there’s still nothing here that could truly warrant a theatrical run – it’s just not quite up to scratch in that regard. Sure, what more do you expect when the movie was made for about a tenner, but still even some of Van Damme’s other DTV efforts have arguably had more atmosphere and style to them – and for similar budgets (as mentioned, Wake of Death, and his latest Universal Soldier sequels) – and it really lets down the rest of the great production, which otherwise boasts decent spurts of drama, plot twists and some thoroughly impressive action. Certainly it’s a noticeable step up from Assassination Games, his last DTV outing (which was also far from bad – no coincidence that it was by the same director as Six Bullets), but there’s still something lacking.
Even the supporting cast don’t really do the film any favours, despite some valiant efforts. Stargate Atlantis’s Joe Flanigan showcases both some decent charisma and a competent fight skills, but is underused as the distraught father of the missing girl, whereas Holby City’s Anna-Louise Plowman is no stranger to DTV action vehicles (having played in Seagal’s atmospheric, above-average The Foreigner) but doesn’t convince as the distraught mother, despite some nice character twists. Van Damme also really should stop drawing his ‘acting’ children into his movies – his son, Kristopher Van Varenberg, has featured in almost a dozen of Van Damme’s flicks, and simply hasn’t progressed as an actor (possibly because he simply can’t act). Here he actually plays Van Damme’s character’s son – which is fine – but he doesn’t convince at all as an embassy worker with any kind of clout whatsoever. Van Damme’s daughter, Bianca Bree, is more effective as the villain’s sex-slave-turned-moll, although her character development is particularly awkward at the end, somehow magically becoming a goodie despite them not devoting the time required to make that a logical twist. Certainly a better calibre of supporting cast would do these Van Damme films no end of good, and perhaps further enable the man to showcase the underrated acting skills that he does have.
When it comes to just the pure action, I doubt many will be disappointed – there’s a slew of decent action sequences, from the excellent opening stealth-attack (it doesn’t really ever get as good as this again) to the double bar-fight; from the assault on the mobster’s secure estate to the painful meat locker attack (where we are reminded, once again, that Van Damme is in shockingly good shape) and the bazooka-wielding climax. Of course it’s all limited by budget, but there are still a few semi-decent explosions, some nice shootouts and a fair amount of fisticuffs all from Van Damme himself, who definitely tries to give a level of experience and expertise to his character beyond just the usual one-on-one kicking. It’s just one of the refreshing aspects of the production, which tries so valiantly to escape its DTV origins, even if it never succeeds in such regard.
If you’re a Van Damme fan, this is undoubtedly one of his better recent efforts, further cementing the fact that he is genuinely making an admirable attempt to not only stay in shape for his action sequences but also play better characters in better stories, and provide better acting performances within. I’d be surprised if Van Damme fans didn’t rank it as an 8/10 – or higher! – whereas those with no real opinions either way when it comes to the high-kicking 80s expendable would probably flip the rating and give it a 5, deriding it for its poor production value and unremarkable direction. Still, the answer lies somewhere in-between, and Six Bullets remains a competent little low budget actioner that keeps the embers glowing in the hope that Van Damme will only further ascend in this twilight-of-his-career attempt at a comeback.
Movie score : 7
Update 22 Nov
6 Bullets, by filmcriticsunited.com
By Christopher Armstead
Apparently you haven’t truly received your Action Hero Stripes until you’ve saved a defenseless little girl and while Jean Claude Van Damme has kicked much ass and saved many a damsel in distress in his lengthy, albeit erratic film career, he finally gets to do what Denzel, Seagal, Liam, Staham, Bin Won, Reno and a few others I can’t think of have done… and this is save a defenseless little girl from an unfortunate end by bad people. Even though his character has no real connection to this little girl other than she’s the next job, but whaddayagonnado. The name of the movie is ’6 Bullets’ which has little or nothing to do with this movie because JCVD uses way more than six bullets to send his enemies straight to hell. Way more.
Samson Gaul (Van Damme) is the toughest, most unforgiving retriever of stolen children ever and on this day he has rescued a little boy stolen into prostitution. Samson Gaul also likes to watch stuff blow up real good and when he blew up these evil child peddlers place of operation, he forgot about the other little kids in the joint, and now Samson Gaul is sad.
A few months later we are introduced to ultimate fighter Andrew Fayden (Joe Flannigan) who is in Moldavia with his shrew of a wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman) and his cute as a button fourteen year old daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont). Stuff happens in between, but to cut to the chase Becky gets herself Taken.
Andrew and Monica need to get their daughter back and they get word that the toughest, most unforgiving Child Retriever on the planet just happens to run a butcher shop down the street so they ask him to step in. Unfortunately Samson is all damaged and stuff, which we know because burnt up dead girls are always standing around his butcher shop staring at his miserable ass, and as such if it’s not at the bottom of a vodka bottle, he’s not interested in retrieving it. Eventually, however, his son Selwyn (Kristopher Van Varenburg) shames his old man into taking the gig. Selwyn, we know, works at the embassy. What we don’t know is what he does at this embassy, but he’s one of those valuable characters in movies who knows how to use a computer real good and thus can make things happen.
Now Samson is on the job and that’s bad news for a lot Eastern European bad guys. Horrible news for these cats. Trouble is that Samson being on the job might not be the best news for little Becky either because Samson is a little reckless in the way he goes about his business. I’m just saying is all. But either way it goes, you can best bet that hordes of mindless, faceless Eastern European henchman are going to pay dearly.
Allrightythen… so ’6 Bullets’ was directed by Ernie Barbarash, who also took care of JCVD along with Scott Adkins in his previous action epic ‘Assassination Games’ and the both movies come off about the same, that being entertaining if not flawed cinematic action fests. JCVD, fresh off his outright theft of ‘The Expendable 2′ where he was privileged to play the heavy, was solid in this as well. As we’ve pointed out before Jean Claude might not be the best actor of our legion of Straight to DVD Action Heroes, but he does take the most chances with the roles he’s given and we appreciate him for this. In fact, with the exception of our villains, all of the acting performances in this film were above board. Joe Flannigan as an aging MMA fighter I’m not too sure about, no matter how many tattoos they put on my man, but Van Damme’s kids Kristopher Van Verenbererg and Bianca Van Varenberg put in good work, and Anna-Louise Plowman was convincing as the concerned, bitchy mom. I did enjoy the one scene when Samson passed her a gun, which she automatically knew how to handle because ‘her dad was army’. My dad was army too, so does this mean I can genetically disassemble, reassemble, cock, load and shoot a gun even though I’ve never touched one before? I’m gonna buy one and find out if this is true. How exciting!
However, while ’6 Bullets’ was an okay-fine action movie, I think it would’ve been even better if it had some better villains. Say like Van Damme in ‘The Expendables 2′. Making your villains kidnappers of children who sell them into prostitution and then kill them when they are done with them is about as bad as it gets by description, but the actual actors still need to sell us on the fact that they are reprehensible, which would’ve gotten the audience really motivated into seeing them die some horrible deaths, and that just didn’t happen here. These villains were about as convincing as Boris and Natasha from those Bullwinkle cartoons with their cartoonish levels of badness, thus we didn’t get nearly as much joy we should’ve gotten out of Van Damme mowing down hordes of Eastern European henchman lackeys. I mean it was enjoyable and all, just not as enjoyable if we really hated these villains.
But ’6 Bullets’ is a functional, solid Van Damme vehicle that gets the action job done leanly and efficiently. There’s always room for improvement in these movies it seems, but this one still better than most.
Update 26 January 2013
6 Bullets, review by Mitch, thevideovacuum.livejournal.com
6 Bullets (2012) ***
29 December 2012
Let me just get this out of the way before I begin this review. I did not have high hopes for this one. The shitty DVD cover along with the generic title didn’t help. Not to mention the awkward quote in the beginning of the film that purports to explain the title. (They never attribute the quote to anyone. Was it supposed to be said by Jean Claude Van Damme’s character? Who knows?) Let’s just say it did not give me confidence.
Then in the opening scene we see Van Damme wearing a terrible disguise. This didn’t do much for me either. But then there’s an awesome scene where he unleashes gallons of whoop-ass on some Moldovan underage sex traffickers, rescues a young boy from slavery, and blows up their compound. Man, that scene rocked.
But right when you’re still floating on the high of that scene, they pull the rug from under you. Van Damme’s policeman buddy calls him back to the building and shows him the corpses of some dead girls. You see, these slavers hide their underage girls in the walls of the building when they think they’re being raided. When JC started kicking ass, they got nervous and tuckered the gals away. Since Van Damme was the one who blew the shit out of the place, he’s basically responsible for killing them.
Well, let me tell ya, Van Damme gets so upset over this that he quits the rescuing-kids-from-sexual-predators business. He starts seeing the crispy corpse ghosts of the girls everywhere he goes so he crawls inside a vodka bottle to make them go away. He also opens up a butcher shop to make a living (and probably keep him in vodka). When an MMA fighter’s daughter gets kidnapped by slavers, he turns to Jean Claude for help.
Let’s just say Van Damme doesn’t keep his butcher’s apron on for very long.
Goddamn, 6 Bullets is the best DTV JCVD has ever made. It has a very Taken kind of feel to it and the action scenes, while brief are very brutal. The film is a little on the long side (nearly two hours), but that’s because it takes its time to fully flesh out Van Damme’s character. He sees dead people (Hey, if Bruce Willis can do it, why can’t Van Damme?), is filled with self-doubt, and he has a turbulent relationship with his son (played by Van Damme’s son Kristopher). This is definitely his best DTV era performance.
After co-starring in the decent Dragon Eyes, and the greatest movie of all time, The Expendables 2 (I haven’t even seen Universal Soldier yet, but I hear great things), 2012 will probably go down in history as The Year of Van Damme.
Update 16 June 2013
Several audience reviews (mostly good) on rottentomatoes.com.
6 Bullets (2012) review on mattmovieguy.com
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
6 Bullets (2012)
Obviously any Jean-Claude Van Damme DTV flick is something we’ll want to get to here, whether it looks good or not, so this one was going to happen one way or another; on the other hand, many of his recent ones have involved him in small roles, leaving us frustrated with the lack of Van Damme, especially when he’s been so good since JCVD. Let’s hope this one goes against the current trend. Also, our friend at The Video Vacuum has reviewed this one too, so you can go there for a second opinion.
6 Bullets has Van Damme as a former mercenary who has etched out a career for himself in Moldova rescuing rich kids kidnapped by white slave traders. This works out when an aging MMA fighter played by Joe Flanigan comes to Moldova to start a comeback, and his is daughter kidnapped. But there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and Van Damme’s going to have to pull out all the stops if he hopes to bring this girl home alive.
I really liked this. I had a few complaints, but overall I thought it was really good. The story was nuanced and compelling, and Van Damme turned in another great performance. The action was there, and when it isn’t, we had Van Damme anchoring some great dramatic sequences, plus there was the tension of finding the girl underpinning the entire thing. It had its poor moments too though, like how the girl’s mother just happens to know how to use a gun, something that would be funny in a Sasquatch movie on SyFy, but here adds a level of fatuity that undermines everything else they were going for. In fact, in terms of writing, the mother character was much more inconsistent than the father, which made the film uneven in spots. Those are minor issues in an otherwise solid movie though.
This was some great Van Damme. He had some great action scenes, especially at the very beginning, but also, as I mentioned above, his dramatic sequences worked well too. This is the kind of thing that can easily look silly in an action film– and we’ve seen it look pretty silly before– and it’s not like from a writing standpoint that this stuff is Oscar nominee caliber stuff, so Van Damme is pulling that kind of quality out of it. I also think there’s something to be said for creating a character for Van Damme that allows him speak English as a second language, instead of trying to graft him into the role of a native English speaker. It makes him sound less silly, and allows us to take him more seriously, which is necessary to make a movie like this work. In that sense, the writing was top notch and aided Van Damme in his performance.
One thing this movie brought up was the issue that some children are worth more than others, yet all of them are human. All of this effort is taken to save this one American girl, while throughout, Eastern European girls are captured and forced into sex slavery. At the end, the issue is even put to us directly, when the leader of the gang that has the daughter, offers an exchange for one of the sex slaves that Van Damme and the parents have saved. The mom is down with the switch, even knowing it means this girl’s death. Fortunately Van Damme steps in with a solution to their problem, which leads to an end to the movie that worked much better than the classic Van Damme defeating the head baddie with his fists– perhaps another example of how Van Damme has grown as an actor.
Van Damme’s son, Kristopher Van Varenberg, plays his son in the movie, and it worked much better than it sounds like it would. It sounds like it should’ve been really indulgent, which would’ve made it unbearable to watch, and fortunately it wasn’t anything like that. I don’t know what their relationship is like in real life, but in the film they made work the fact that a father who’s an ex-mercenary and a son who works at the embassy in Moldova would have a complicated relationship. Actually, they had the best chemistry in the film, and I think their scenes together were the best.
I did have one major problem with the film, and if our buddy Kenner at Movies in the Attic is still reading this, he’d tell me it’s because I’m too squeamish with these films, and it’s nothing the film makers did wrong. Regardless, I’ll proceed, and you can be the judge. At the end of the film, 6 Bullets goes classic faux-dark or faux-grit-and-edge, and cuts the daughter’s finger off. It’s not shown on-screen, but it still happened. I have always had a problem with this, because, especially in an action movie, it’s the easiest way to graft a fake sense of darkness into an otherwise schlock DTV actioner. This movie didn’t need to go there, didn’t need to spend that nickel, and it did it anyway. Come on movie, you’re better than that.
And I’m not kidding, it is better than that. I rented this on Netflix on DVD. I’m sure you can get it at RedBox too. Wherever you get it, it’s worth checking out. This is some great Van Damme, perhaps his best sinceJCVD, and while it’s a little longer than your average DTV action flick, it’s worth it.
Update 24 August 2013
6 Bullets Movie Review, budomate.com
6 Bullets Movie Review
23 September 2012
Van Damme is back…, but is he better than ever?
The story of the 6 Bullets movie is similar to Taken with Kiam Neeson, but too far from it in the way of filming and acting. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Samson Gaul, the an ex-mercenary who can find pretty much anyone anywhere. He’s known for finding missing children, and has been doing it successfully for many years, until one operation went wrong. After some time he has to help a former MMA fighter to find his kidnapped daughter.
As always Van Damme takes his children on board of his new movies, now Christopher Van Varenberg plays the insider of the U.S embassy and Bianca Bree plays villain Amalia.
Despite having a budget of around $10 million, and running for 115 minute runtime which could have easily been trimmed to a much tighter 90 minutes, 6 Bullets shows a pretty good acting skills of Van Damme, what I was really enjoy to see, he does not do a lot of martial arts fights in the film, but when he does it looks in the typical Van Damme’s style.
Joe Flanigan adds a good on-screen support for Jean Claude, and despite it is a really easy to imagine him as an ex MMA fighter, he looks really good in the fight scenes and this is definitely a step-up for him after Stargate: Atlantis tv series.
The action and the story presented in the film are just too big to be put within one city and moreover 6 Bullets has a really boring soundtrack what makes movie looks cheap and sleazy.
… Van Damme to his credit has improved with age for sure.