The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
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 since JCVD, and while it's a little longer than your average DTV action flick, it's worth it.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1975249/