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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: 6 Bullets

December 2, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
6 Bullets

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #578: 6 Bullets

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to wear a fake beard to infiltrate, well, anything, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-eight I take a look at the low budget Jean-Claude Van Damme starring action flick 6 Bullets, which was released on home video in early September 2012.

6 Bullets

SixBulletsDVD

6 Bullets, also known as Six Bullets and directed by the great Ernie Barbarash, stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Samson Gaul, an ex-badass mercenary turned badass professional rescuer who quits being a badass professional rescuer when multiple kids are accidentally killed after rescuing a young boy from being trafficked by Eastern European mob types. Gaul goes back to being a local butcher, cutting and selling meat in a little village somewhere in Moldova, and just trying to forget it all. Gaul can’t, though, as he’s haunted by the ghastly ghosts of the two kids that were killed. All Gaul wants to do is forget it all.

Several months later, when Becky (Charlotte Beaumont), the daughter of American professional MMA fighter Andrew Fyden (Joe Flanigan), is kidnapped and essentially disappears without a trace, Gaul is called back into service when the local cops are unable to come up with any leads as to Becky’s whereabouts. At first, Gaul tells Andrew and his wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman) to stick with the police because it’s the police’s job to find missing people. And Gaul makes it clear that his heart just isn’t in the rescuing business anymore. Gaul eventually comes around, though, and decides to look for Becky. With the help of his contact at the American embassy in Moldova (Selwyn Gaul, who I guess is meant to be Samson’s son, and is played by Van Damme’s actual, real life son Kris Van Damme) and local inspector Kvitko (Steve Nicolson), Gaul starts plowing through a bevy of criminal henchmen who Gaul knows deal in human trafficking.

After taking out multiple bad guys, Gaul hits a bit of an emotional roadblock when he finds out that the kidnappers murdered Becky when they realized that Gaul and the authorities were in hot pursuit. But did the bad guys really melt Becky in a bathtub in an apartment somewhere in the country? Would main bad guy Vlad (Uriel Emil Pollack) destroy his top prize, as blond American virgins are top prizes in the world of international human trafficking? Gaul eventually figures out the truth, and, after dealing with a massive hangover (Gaul has a bit of a drinking problem), he gets back in the game again. Gaul will destroy the bad guys.

Now, while all of that is going on, Andrew is pissed at how useless he feels during all of this. He’s a professional tough guy in Moldova for a big fight. Why can’t he find Becky and kill the bad guys with his bare hands? Monica feels the same way, too. Why can’t she take matters into her own hands and destroy the people responsible for taking and killing her daughter? When they find out the truth about what really happened, Andrew and Monica throw themselves into the deep end with Gaul. Despite having zero experience taking on violent criminals, they bring the fight to the bad guys, too.

The pacing and tone of 6 Bullets is strange because you expect the movie to be more action packed than it is. The opening sequence, where we see Gaul rescue a young boy, is probably the best action in the movie. We see Gaul stabbing bad guys, shooting bad guys, Van Damme engaging in some martial arts, a guy’s face melts, and there are multiple explosions as Gaul blows up a series of cars as he escapes with the rescued kid. The pace slows down, though, and the movie becomes more contemplative after Gaul finds out about the kids that he accidentally killed and he goes back to being a butcher. It’s a somber situation through and through and Van Damme shows that he can handle rough emotions. Things pick up a bit when Andrew and his family arrive in the country for the big fight and Becky is kidnapped, but then things slow down again whenever Gaul shows up on screen. You’d think that things would pick up and stay sped up once everyone starts looking for Becky but it doesn’t. There are action sequences spread throughout the remaining runtime, but nothing is as fast paced or exciting as that opening sequence.

The human trafficking plot is a bit too convoluted for its own good. I’m still not quite sure why the people who actually kidnap Becky are not part of Vlad’s criminal organization, and the local politics involving the big boss (because Vlad isn’t the full on top bad guy) are confusing. I’m surprised that the script just didn’t have Gaul blasting through the bad guys on his way to finding Becky. That approach would have likely shaved a full half hour off of the movie’s running time (6 Bullets is one of the longer low budget, direct-to-video movies I’ve seen). But then, if the movie had gone that route, it wouldn’t have had time to show Andrew and Monica going through their emotional process. I’m not sure I would have done that if 6 Bullets had been my movie, but I still like how that subplot works. Director Barbarash handles all of this like a pro and makes it function for the audience.

Should 6 Bullets have had more action in it? I know I certainly would have liked to see more gun battles and explosions and a motorcycle stunt or two (Gaul is a motorcycle guy). I’m also surprised that things don’t get nastier when Gaul goes after the henchmen and doesn’t slice them up like so many pieces of meat (Gail is a butcher, after all). And if you have Jean-Claude Van Damme as the star of your movie it would seem to make sense to have him in multiple martial arts fights, kicking people in the face and whatnot. We really don’t get enough of that in the movie. But, at the same time, the lack of those things doesn’t kill the movie. 6 Bullets still works.

The movie’s final action sequence, while not as good as the opening one, is still fairly exciting and filled with cool moments. You will likely wonder why the cops didn’t show up sooner, but then what Gaul and company do is exactly what you expect to see in this kind of movie.

Jean-Claude Van Damme does phenomenal work as Samson Gaul. He nails all of the character’s emotional scenes and shows, just in case you didn’t know, that JCVD can act. Van Damme also does a great job with the action sequences he gets to do. His knife fighting and killing people skills are a thing of cinematic beauty. Why the heck hasn’t Samson Gaul become a character that Van Damme comes back to every few years? There are plenty of people who need rescuing.

Joe Flanigan does a fine job as Andrew Fayden, the concerned father and husband and professional MMA fighter looking for his kidnapped daughter. He doesn’t get to engage in all that much MMA type stuff, but he does get to fight a few guys and breaks a guy’s neck. So that’s cool. And Anna-Louise Plowman is excellent as Andrew’s wife Monica. You don’t expect her to go full on badass towards the end of the movie but she does and it’s beautiful.

Steve Nicolson is hilarious as Inspector Kvitko. Even when he’s trying to exert authority and be all serious (his verbal beat down of Gaul is heartfelt as fuck) that feeling doesn’t last very long. Kvitko is still a guy who would rather be smooth as opposed to strong. Kris Van Damme ‘s Selwyn is a guy who would like to be smooth, too, as that’s what diplomats are all about. He gets to jump into the action a bit, though, and does a good job.

Charlotte Beaumont does a decent job as Becky, the kidnapped teen. Her cat and mouse scenes while in captivity are better than expected. I wasn’t expecting her to be as resourceful as she is and for it to work.

And Uriel Emil Pollack as Vlad? My God, he does a great job at being an absolute piece of shit. You’ll wish Vlad decapitated, that’s how big of a scumbag he is.

6 Bullets isn’t a great action movie. It has elements in that, in a different movie, probably would have annoyed me. I prefer my action flicks straight forward and ass kicking, especially when they star a big deal action star like Jean-Claude Van Damme. 6 Bullets, though, is oddly satisfying in the end and a movie I ended up enjoying enormously. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to check it out. And if you’re a Van Damme nerd and haven’t seen it yet? What the heck are you waiting for? 6 Bullets is something you have to experience. You just have to.

See 6 Bullets. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 32.

Explosions: Multiple, big and small.

Nudity?: Briefly

Doobage: A chilling opening card, a brothel, a man in disguise, drink mixing, a money clip, acid to the face, neck stabbing, serious arm slicing, face melting, steak knife hooey, disguise removal, white sport jacket hooey, motorcycle hooey, multiple exploding cars, a gigantic fire, a weird morning phone call, multiple dead children, talk about a crawlspace, an American family arrives in Moldova, picture taking, a butcher shop, meat cutting, multiple hauntings, vodka drinking, a missing kid, a slow motion police raid montage, a search, strip club hooey, a strip club beat down, a trick clicker pen with a poison needle in the clicker, a really bad surveillance loop, guys with machine guns unloading on a runaway pickup truck, chair bondage, a trip wire, a grenade trap, bed bondage, stomach slicing, stomach carving, passport burning, a guy with a chainsaw and a tub of acid, off screen body melting, face slapping, private drunkenness, back whipping, chain to the back, a “figuring it out” montage, a shootout, super dangerous motorcycle riding, airport hooey, butcher shop torture, testical torture, safe house hooey, attempted escape, cell phone calling, phone call tracing, neck breaking, sniper hooey, a gas grenade, exploding jeep, a heart wrenching story, off screen bloody finger removal, a big switcheroo, a police SWAT team, an impromptu shooting, a happy ending, and silencer hooey.

Kim Richards?: Big time.

Gratuitous: A chilling opening card, Eastern Europe, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jean-Claude Van Damme wearing a fake beard, “[email protected]” on a napkin, Jean-Claude Van Damme killing multiple bad guys with a knife, Jean-Claude Van Damme riding a motorcycle, video taking, Jean-Claude Van Damme working as a butcher, Jean-Clade Van Damme wiping the counter down, Jean-Claude Van Damme experiencing haunting hallucinations, Bianca Van Varenberg, Jean-Claude Van Damme watching a little TV, a local English Moldovan newspaper, Kris Van Damme, Jean-Claude Van Damme looking at an old scrapbook of shit he’s done, Jean-Claude Van Damme drinking vodka and having nightmares about what happened, “gypsies are whores,” internet statistics on human trafficking, Jean-Claude Van Damme disguised as a local deliveryman, smoke grenade hooey, Jean-Claude Van Damme carving “Becky” into a guy’s stomach, Jean-Claude Van Damme threatening to cut out a guy’s eyes, Jean-Claude Van Damme passing out, shirtless, in the freezer next to multiple butcher shop carcasses, skeet shooting, woman knowing how to use a gun next to a man who doesn’t know how to use a gun, a room full of stolen personal belongings, a ”Find My Phone” app, an old henchman that really looks like William Smith but it obviously isn’t William Smith, guns hidden in a cemetery, sudden concern about killing a guy, Jean-Claude Van Damme using a rocket launcher, a random henchman wearing a purple shirt, a big switcheroo, an old woman, and Jean-Claude Van Damme in church.

Best lines: “Modern day slavery is big business. I once saw a child sold for six bullets. And I did nothing,” “Shut up. He’s a paying customer,” “It’s a lot of money for one hour,” “I just want the kid. I will pay more,” “Andrew, I’ve been awake twenty hours,” “Admit it, old people suck with technology,” “That’s the guy they want you to fight? The white guy? He’s a monster!,” “Hey, princess, how did it go with the internet?,” “We’re not here to buy meat,” “You were in the legion!,” “Do you enjoy seeing dead people? Do you?,” “Well, if you don’t help people anymore then all you are is a goddamn butcher. Your grandpa was a butcher. People need me,” “Hey, sweetie, you want to buy me a drink?,” “Come on, I’ve got you,” “Who is guarding the back?,” “It’s the fucking Russians! Gotta be! Get more guys over here!,” “Your retard cousin is drawing too much heat. Shut it down,” “You want to be a lackey for the rest of your life or do you want to make some real money?,” “Her face is gone. Are you sure it’s her?,” “Stick to what you know. Butcher,” “I just… don’t understand,” “A butcher with feelings. Who knew?,” “Who paid you off you lying piece of shit?,” “Private property. Private property,” and “Sorry, boss, we didn’t expect the butcher.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0

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6 Bullets

Jean-Claude Van Damme– Samson Gaul
Joe Flanigan– Andrew Fayden
Anna-Louise Plowman– Monica Fayden
Charlotte Beaumont– Beck Fayden
Steve Nicolson– Inspector Kvitko<
Uriel Emil Pollack– Vlad
Kris Van Damme– Selwyn Gaul (as Kristopher Van Varen)

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Ernie Barbarash
Screenplay by Chad Law and Evan Law

Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Rated R for violence, disturbing images, language, and sexual content
Runtime– 115 minutes

Buy it here