In the mood to give back a little…revenge? Sure, we all are at one time or another. And remember: “Revenge, like Sauvignon Blanc, is a dish best served ice cold.”
Or, as my friend Bill Shakespeare said: “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
We’ve all felt a little bit like this, haven’t we? A little “ballpeen hammer justice?” Well, now there is something you can do about it.
Yes, you can don a crazy mask and let the world know that you are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” OK, “Network” really isn’t a revenge film, but the ten selection below ARE, and they embrace it, CELEBRATE IT, and will provide you with 90-110 minutes in the dark to imagine what you would do if you only could…
Time to explore the darker recesses of your inner soul and see how the other half fights back!
10 – I Saw The Devil. 2010. This is an immeidate classic tale of revenge, bloodshed, and…well – more revenge and bloodshed! When his pregnant fiancee becomes the latest victim of a serial killer, a secret agent blurs the line between good and evil in his pursuit of revenge.
ANY time someone blurs the line between good and evil, WE ARE THE ONES WHO BENEFIT. This is a terrifically tense and incredibly INTENSE cat-and-mouse thriller that shows how one man’s obsession with punishing a serial killer can come back to haunt him…
Korean director Kim Ji-woon first garnered a reputation for the thriller “A Tale of Two Sisters” and the spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad, the Weird.” For this film, he puts it all on the line, and then crosses it.
The Korea Media Rating Board forced Kim to re-cut the film for its theatrical release, objecting to its violent content. Otherwise, the film would have gotten a “Restricted” rating in South Korea, preventing any sort of release in theaters or on home video.
As the young cop says to the serial killer he captures – on his own, outside the law: “I will kill you when you are in the most pain. When you’re in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That’s a real revenge. A real complete revenge.”
Naturally, things don’t go as planned – which is just one reason this is one great revenge movie!
I Spit On Your Grave tells the tale of Jennifer Hills, a magazine writer from New York City who retires to a secluded cabin in the woods to write her first novel. There she is brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead by four country boys. BUT JENNIFER IS ALIVE. …and she will exact her revenge on those who left her for dead.
This was also known as “Day Of The Woman”, which speaks to the revenge aspect of the film in a milder tone than “I Spit On Your Grave” does, but the point is the same – Jennifer is going to hunt down those who violated her, and she will exact revenge in the most cruel terms.
This is a grindhouse classic.
8 – Kill Bill 1 & 2 – Talk about blood-splattered goodness!
Four years after taking a bullet in the head at her own wedding, The Bride (Uma Thurman) emerges from a coma and decides it’s time for payback … with a vengeance! Having been gunned down by her former boss (David Carradine) and his deadly squad of international assassins, it’s a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn’t start but is determined to finish!
This film announced the triumphant return of Quentin Tarantino, who offered up Uma Thurman as a modern day killing machine – and in the service of revenge!
I ate dinner at the restaurant in Tokyo where one of the climactic battles was filmed, and they have Uma’s iconic yellow bodysuit, which was of course taken directly from Bruce Lee’s “Enter The Dragon!” Which is, by the way, ANOTHER great revenge flick!
“Kill Bill 1 & 2” are perfect revenge classics – and as you all know, terrific action films as well. Revenge has rarely been so beautifully captured on film.
Growing up mute after a childhood sexual assault, a young girl (played by beautiful cult starlet Christina Lindberg) spends years working on a remote farm. After missing the bus one day, she is picked up by a suave young man who takes her out to dinner, drugs her and forces her into a life of drug addiction and prostitution. After trying to rebel against her captor, Christina has one of her eyes gouged out as punishment (in a scene rumored to have been filmed with an actual corpse). But revenge is coming…in fact, this was originally released in the US as “They Call Her One-Eye!”
Christina Lindberg is a cultural icon – a deserving of so much more credit in this country than she gets…for such a short career in film, she made quite the mark, perhaps never more memorably than in this grindhouse classic!
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.
How to describe “Oldboy.” Ok, how about this: BRILLIANT.
Imagine being imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years – for reasons you don’t know, and then you are released – just like that – and are given 5 days to figure out why it happened. You really don’t want to know more than that, but….about that ballpeen hammer scene: The famous one-take corridor scene was shot in three days. No CGI was used – the scene was shot in one take. Once you have seen the film you will understand…
More trivia: Live octopus were eaten in the sushi bar scene. Eating live octopus in Korea is commonplace although it is usually sliced first. When the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes, the director thanked the octopodes along with the cast and crew.
This is a pure revenge film – and a terrific example of the danger of seeking the truth – which is far worse than what you DON’T know. A classic film.
5 – The Toxic Avenger. In 1984, Lloyd Kaufman unveils a new Superhero, from New Jersey!
The plot is simple – here is what Amazon says: In a town called Tromaville there is a gym where a little dweeb named Melvin works. He’s a geek who gets on all the cool kids nerves. They plan a prank on him that ends seeing Melvin fall out of a window and land in a barrel of Toxic waste on the back of a truck parked outside. But instead of killing Melvin, it turns him into a hideously deformed creature of super human size and strength that develops Troma-zones that make Melvin fight crime when needed. Melvin helps the people of Tromaville and cleans up the town of its crime, while also getting revenge on the kids who caused him to become what he is.
And revenge is sweet – and served up Troma-style! Kudos to Lloyd Kaufman for heading up Troma Studios, keeping independent art alive – and entertaining!
The Toxic Avenger: You fat slob. Let’s see if you’ve got any guts.
[Toxie then punches the mayor in the stomach and rips out his guts]
The Toxic Avenger: Officer O’Clancy, take care of this toxic waste.
4 – Super. 2011. After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills.
James Gunn directs a tight, effectively shocking look at the everyday man who wants to rise up against those who do him wrong!
Rainn Wilson is fantastic as Frank, a short-order clerk who experiences a major downturn after losing his wife (Liv Tyler) to a local mobster (Kevin Bacon). Guided by an anime-inspired spiritual vision, Frank proceeds to don a red suit and adopt the secret identity of the Crimson Bolt, who strikes fear into the hearts of criminals by… hiding behind dumpsters and hitting unsuspecting folks with a big wrench. As his crusade worryingly expands to include jaywalkers and people cutting in line at the movies, Frank receives unwelcome help from an overly bubbly comic-store clerk (Ellen Page) bent on becoming his sidekick.
Writer-director James Gunn does a terrific job with a cast that is up for anything – Liv Tyler, Gregg Henry (Body Double) and Michael Rooker (Henry, Portrait Of A Serial Killer)
And how about this for trivia? Towards the end of the movie when Liv Tyler is in her rehab group session, she is heard stating “f**ked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional”. This is a reference and nod to her rocker father Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) and his 1980’s song “FINE” which is an acronym for the same line.
Lots of great moments, grisly grindhouse exploitation, and heart. LOVE James Gunn’s work and terrific performances by the entire cast!
A rape victim is exacting revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Dirty Harry, on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.
Detective Harry Calahan is one bad ass guy. He shoots first and questions suspects later. He hates crime, and has no problem kicking its ass. But in “Sudden Impact”, Harry can’t get to the criminals fast enough. Someone else is beating him to the punch – and they are punching hard.
What makes “Sudden Impact” so good is that Clint turns the killing over to the victim to exact her revenge – and exact it she does.
Clint’s then-girlfriend Sandra Locke dispenses justice, and exacts revenge in a way that made this one of the most popular films of 1983.
2-Dead Man’s Shoes. 2004. A little-seen but fantastic English thriller about a hotwired ex-soldier (co-scripter Paddy Considine) who returns to his sleepy Irish village to dole out merciless revenge upon the booze- and drug-sodden hoodlums who abused his mentally handicapped younger brother.
Director Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) doesn’t shy away from delivering scenes of gripping suspense and violence, but the end result hews closer to an ambiguous meditation on the nature and effect of vengeance a la Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs than a Death Wish-style grindhouse effort. Speaking of Death Wish…
1-Death Wish. 1974. This is the “Godfather of Payback”…a controversial, 1974 drama that exploited urban paranoia and presents vigilantism as cathartic release. A mild-mannered New Yorker turns violent vigilante after a horrific crime strikes his family, and who runs afoul of the law while taking it into his own hands.
Charles Bronson stars as the vengeance-seeking urban warrior who goes on a punk-killing spree after his wife and daughter are attacked by intruders. Watch for a very young Jeff Goldblum–in this, his second movie–as one of the assailants of Bronson’s loved ones.
This really is the ultimate revenge movie – a horrific crime causes someone to seek revenge against those who harmed his family – nothing will stand in his way – and clearly, this is how we will react – by becoming all-out killing machines!