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EndersGame
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The Bullet Trilogy (John Bannon)

An overview of John Bannon's fantastic "Bullet" trilogy of videos

Background

John Bannon is my hero. Well, maybe not quite, but he's certainly a brilliant magician, with a remarkable capacity for a clever psychological approach to his card magic. And I do enjoy Bannon's card magic immensely! The nice thing about having Bannon as your teacher, is that you're not going to be challenged to become a move monkey, needing to do difficult knuckle-busting sleights that take years to master. Instead he has a more subtle approach, and while he's not afraid to use some sleight of hand, it is usually done in a modest way. He especially relies of psychology and clever construction for effective card magic.

Despite a somewhat minimalist approach, Bannon has proven himself as having the capacity to create very powerful magic. He might not have a careeer as a professional magician, but you doesn't need that in order to make an impact, as the important contributions to card magic by big name amateurs like Alex Elmsley already prove. In today's magic industry, Bannon has certainly made a name for himself courtesy of his high class creations, which he's shared both via his books and via the DVDs he's put out with Big Blind Media. In this article I'll be giving an overview and review of three of those DVDs, which together comprise Bannon's "Bullet" trilogy of videos: Bullets After Dark (2009), Bullet Party (2011), and the most recent release, Fire When Ready (2019).

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Big Blind Media (BBM) is of course the company that keeps producing videos of the highest standard, such as the excellent Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks series, and they are highly regarded for their superb production values, sound, visuals, and camera work. Bannon had produced some videos himself (Impossibilia and Smoke & Mirrors) before joining forces with BBM, but it was only when he began partnering with them that the production quality of his videos went through the roof. In 2009 Big Blind Media achieved what they considered "the ultimate coup", when John Bannon agreed to let them produce his next full length video - his first since way back in 1992. Entitled Bullets After Dark, this DVD would prove to be a big hit and is still a best-seller today.

But the Bullets After Dark DVD would would also become the first of what is know as Bannon's Bullet Trilogy. This series consists of three full-length videos from John Bannon, each taking up two DVDs. The majority of the tricks contained in them were previously taught in Bannon's books and booklets, but the Bullet trilogy of DVDs has certainly help popularize his best work and bring it to a much wider audience. Let's give you an overview of the complete series.

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Vol 1: Bullets After Dark DVD (2009)

This was the very first entry in the trilogy, and was produced in 2009 as a result of John Bannon teaming up with BBM for the first time. It contained a dozen routines, the accompanying description here being the ad copy for each trick.

1. Dead Reckoning: She mentally spells the name of her card-and there it is! Just. Not. Possible. Sophisticated, yet self-working wizardry.
2. Dawn Patrol: He "accidentally" shuffles one card between two face-up Queens. Yeah, right, but you won't believe how-and how fast-this works.
3. Doctored Daley: Presentational judo to knock your spectator off-balance. See what a small addition to a classic magic trick can accomplish.
4. Power Of Poker: One card at a time, she forms two poker hands. He correctly predicts every one of her ten separate decisions. A self-working poker blockbuster, gone mental.
5. Counterpunch: The Dunbury Delusion slams into the Biddle trick. It's not just a card trick, it's a con job.
6. 4 Faces North: Bannon's "Last Man Standing" leaner and meaner. Shuffle the cards face-up and face-down. No way! Only Aces staring upward.
7. Watching The Detectives: Continue your guided tour down the garden path. A sandwich trick from the twilight zone. You won't see it coming...
8. New Jax/Full Circle: Next stop: A highly-engineered, stealth fighter-like transposition. Welcome to the future.
9. Origami Prediction: A mathematical drive-by. Multi-stage prediction with error-correction. Fools you when you see it. Fool yourself when you do it.
10. The Einstein Overkill: Fooled Einstein; might fool you. Einstein didn't get to see the kicker ending. He wouldn't stand a chance.
11. Bullet Train (Iconoclastic Aces - Syncopated Aces - Interrobang Aces): Iconoclastic. Syncopated. Interrobang!? Bannon's unholy trio of ace assemblies. Ahead of their time. A neo-modern classic.
12. The Bannon Triumph: Re-branding Bannon's classic four-packet Triumph routine. You know it, you love it. Or, will love it...

The majority of these 12 tricks were sourced from Bannon's books Dear Mr. Fantasy (2005) and Six.Impossible.Things. (2009). The material is very strong, and tricks like "Power of Poker" and "The Bannon Triumph" (a rebranding of his earlier "Play It Straight Triumph") continue to be regarded among John Bannon's all time best work, and are still extremely popular today. Also included was instruction for a false cut, the "J.B. Flytrap False Cut".

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Vol 2: Bullet Party DVD (2011)

Two years later John Bannon produced the second installment in the Bullet trilogy, once again a two-DVD set given the amount of material. According to Bannon himself, this project started off as a showcase of his two packet tricks (Bannon's terminology for this is "fractal magic"), namely "Mega 'Wave" and "Bullet Party". It was also going to possibly include his revised "Poker Pairadox". But the project grew and grew, and while these tricks remained the chief features, with the addition of more material it quickly became another full length release running over two DVDs. It ended up being a baker's dozen of routines as follows:

1. Bullet Party: A fractal blast. Follow the Ace and ignore the Jokers—if you can—before the bullets start flying. Complete with subtitles.
2. Final Verdict: Four cuts finds four Aces. Spectator does all of the work. No, really.
3. Box Jumper: An illusion. Her card (lost in the deck) changes places with your card (in the card box). Presto.
4. Riverboat Poker: Cardzilla at the card table. Hardcore poker on the Mississippi riverboats. High stakes, low ability.
5. Poker Pairadox Redux: Classic stacker made fractal. Looks and smells like Texas Hold ‘Em poker—but it’s not. Instantly resets. Go all in.
6. Fractal Re-Call (Revised): JB’s popular “Call Of The Wild” wild-card routine fractalized.
7. Mega ‘Wave: Hocus Pocus and Mumbo Jumbo hammer the four-card Brainwave.
8. Fat City Revisited: Fine-tuned card sandwiches. Maximum efficiency.
9. Wicked: Help Dorothy escape from you know who.
10. Bullet Catcher: Cut-the-Aces-from-a-shuffled pack. Fire when ready.
11. Drop Target Aces: Aces, buried alive, return with a vengeance. The future is here.
12. Four Shadow Aces: Classic Ace assembly, shaken not stirred. Smooth and sophisticated.
13. Big Fat Bluff Aces: Aces assemble, change to Kings, then disassemble—or do they? Low cost, high bluff, all fun.

A couple of tricks in this collection of 13 tricks again used material from his books Dear Mr. Fantasy (2005) and Six. Impossible. Things. (2009), but the majority of the content came from his books Bullet Party (2011), along with a few tricks also from Mega Wave (2010). Once again there's also instruction for a false cut, this time the "Crocodile False Cut".

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This was also a time when Bannon was exploring what he called "fractal card magic", which is his term for what most is commonly called "packet tricks". Bannon had strict requirements for his packet trick routines, including that they had to end clean. The year 2008 saw him release three successful tricks along those lines, namely "The Royal Scam", "Duplicity", and "Spin Doctor". The Bullet Party DVD taps into the same theme, and is perfect for fans of packet tricks. It comes with 13 gaff cards that are used for some of the tricks. The two standouts are "Bullet Party" and "Mega 'Wave", but there's certainly a lot of other strong material as well, including a revised version of his older "Call of the Wild" packet trick under the new name "Fractal Re-Call". Not everything in the Bullet Party DVD is about packet tricks, however, and there's certainly more traditional routines with a complete deck there as well.

Vol 3: Fire When Ready DVD (2019)

The final installment in the series took quite a number of years to arrive, because Bannon was busy producing numerous other projects in the mean time. But in the intervening period Bannon had created more magic, and so what we have in this third collection features material not found in any of his previous videos:

1. Proxy Shock: They think of a card. The deck is shuffled. It looks like you miss... then boom! They realize they were just being set up for the sucker punch.
2. Rock The 'Voque: A spectator reads your mind, bit by bit, nailing the card you thought of... and you can prove it!
3. Mundo: All the impact of 'Out of This World', but in a small packet, and with a twist that will fool everyone!
4. Cut & Run: Produce the four Aces from a deck repeatedly shuffled and cut... by your spectator! This is a killer utility!
5. Stealth Aces: A classic Ace Assembly, that combines easy handling with a devious construction!
6. Big Fat Bluff Aces: John's hidden gem. This assembly is a showpiece, and features several astonishing kickers, and will leave everyone reeling - laymen and magicians alike!
7. Blues Alley Jokers: Truly shocking appearance of Jokers sandwiching a selected card.
8. Clean Out Of Sight: Vernon's classic gets the Bannon treatment - a spectator shuffles and thinks of a card, without you touching a thing. Then, following the spectator's intuition, you zero in on a card they've genuinely thought of, and never named. Boom!
9. Question Zero: A borrowed, shuffled deck. A thought of card. Zero questions, maximum bang for minimal buck!
10. Line Of Sight: What does John open his card sets with? Line of Sight. And you will see why! John teaches all the tips that make this shocking moment of mental card magic work, with the pack in the spectators' hands.

This collection of 10 tricks clocks up around 3 hours of video footage in total, and the tricks themselves were again sourced from Bannon's books. The majority come from Mentalissimo (2016) and Lucky (2016). There's also instruction for a utility move called "Hybrid Holdout", where the top stock is controlled with the spectator shuffling and cutting.

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Performance Examples

Since top class production quality is one of Big Blind Media's hallmarks, it is no surprise that they are in the habit of releasing performance videos to help promote their DVD releases. The good news about this is that it means you can check out what some of the effects from the videos look like, to see whether or not these tricks appeal to you. Here are some of the performance videos that showcase some of the tricks from the Bullet trilogy.

From Bullets After Dark (Vol. 1)
Dead Reckoning
Dawn Patrol
Doctored Daley
Power of Poker
Counterpunch
Watching The Detectives
Origami Prediction
Einstein Overkill
]Bullet Train
The Bannon Triumph

From Bullet Party (Vol. 2)
Bullet Party (begins at 49 sec)
Mega 'Wave

From Fire When Ready (Vol. 3)
Proxy Shock (begins at 41 sec)

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More Bannon

Between the publication of the second and third members of the Bullet trilogy, John Bannon has continued to have a solid output. For self-working magic, you can hardly do better than his excellent Move Zero series of four DVDs. If you don't mind some sleights, then don't overlook his Dealing With It set of DVDs (Seasons 1-3), which teaches the excellent routines he published in Genii magazine over the last three years.

Are you a fan of packet tricks? For John Bannon's best work on packet tricks (or as he calls it: "fractal magic"), people often recommend some of the routines that he has released separately, such as like "Strangers Gallery", "The Royal Scam", "Twisted Sisters" or "Duplicity". These are all excellent, but if you are looking for value, I would suggest instead getting the second DVD of the "Bullet" series covered above, namely Bullet Party (2011), as well as Bannon's later DVD Fractalicious (2014).

The Fractalicious DVD came about after the publication of a pamphlet called Triabolical (2011), in which Bannon taught three packet tricks in combination with Liam Montier. All of these were all included in Fractalicious, which also came with some gimmicked cards for performing the tricks within. It taught "Brainiac", "Short Attention Spin", and "Montinator 5.0" from the book Triabolical, along with with "Chop Shop", "Spin Doctor", and two bonus effects, all from his other books. If you love the Bullet Party DVD and enjoy packet tricks, then the Fractalicious DVD is another must have. Both of these videos come with custom gaff cards and a good number of solid routines, some of which were released previously as individual effects (e.g. "Spin Doctor"), so they make good value.

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Recommendation

Everything about the Bullet Trilogy of DVDs is fantastic. Each of the three members of the series is packed with around a dozen tricks, and there's that much content for each that it needs to take up two DVDs. The material in John Bannon's books is highly regarded, but this video series gives you a great way to learn some of his top tricks, carefully selected and taught by the man himself.

You quickly learn what you can expect with John Bannon: card magic that is clever and packs a punch, without requiring you to learn difficult moves or follow complex plots. He typically offers a straight-forward presentation, where all the focus is on baffling your spectator. These videos are top notch, and really show John Bannon at his best. He's picked the cream of the crop from his books, and with his expert instruction you'll quickly be on your way to amazing family and friends.

As for the videos themselves, you won't find better than Big Blind Media when it comes to production. As always, each DVD in the trilogy is set up to make navigating to your favourite tricks a breeze. And you'll get the very best in the business in terms of the sound, lighting, and camera angles.

I can't recommend John Bannon's work highly enough, and I'm only all too thrilled that his partnership with Big Blind Media has been such a success. Even if he doesn't produce a single book or video besides his existing output, he's already left a lasting legacy of fine material for card magicians to enjoy for years to come. And his Bullet Trilogy is easily right near the top of everything he's produced so far. Outstanding, and highly recommended!

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Want to learn more? Visit the publisher Big Blind Media or check their social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube).
Bullet Trilogy: #1 Bullets After Dark DVD (2009), #2 Bullet Party DVD (2011), #3 Fire When Ready DVD (2019)
Other product pages: Bullet Trilogy box set, and other BBM John Bannon titles.

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thekillingjoke33
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Nice in depth review! I agree that the series. I especially think that the bullet party count might be my favorite card count/display of all time.
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