6 Bullets (2012)
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Jean-Claude Van Damme/Samson
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.