The urge to take revenge is a visceral reaction to feeling hurt or wronged, but most of us don’t act on it because intellectually we know that it won’t make things better. Therefore, it can be liberating to watch someone else take revenge on a screen. Here are my five favourite revenge flicks.Dalkomhan Insaeng (A Bittersweet Life)
South Korean action (2005)
The original title translates as ‘the sweet life’. Lee Byung-hun plays a gangster who unintentionally starts an irreversible war with his gang after refusing to follow his boss’ orders to kill his mistress. It’s stylish and bloody and everything a revenge film should be but what makes this film special is Lee’s outstanding performance. He’s also in I Saw the Devil (2010), another excellent revenge film. He does revenge extraordinary well.Thriller – en grym film (Thriller: A Cruel Picture)
Swedish exploitation film (1973)
The first Swedish film I write about is of course an exploitation flick from the 70s. It’s also known as They Call Her One Eye and Hooker’s Revenge. Madeleine is sexually assaulted as a child and is so traumatised by it that it makes her mute. One day, she gets kidnapped after accepting a ride from a man called Tony and he forces her into heroin addiction and prostitution. Madeleine decides to train as an assassin to take revenge on those who have wronged her. When this film was made, porn was being liberalised in Sweden which explains why there are hardcore porn scenes edited into it. Quentin Tarantino loves this film and drew heavily on it for Kill Bill (2003/2004).Death Proof
American action exploitation horror film (2007)
Quentin Tarantino’s part of the double feature Grindhouse. Stuntman Mike uses his “death proof” stunt car to murder young women by causing car accidents. One day he messes with the wrong trio of women and they come after him. The stuntwoman Zoë Bell (who doubled for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill) plays herself and performs her own stunts. Rose McGowan is one of my favourite women and she’s always a joy to watch. To me, this is Tarantino’s purest film. It’s gritty in the style of 70s exploitation films that were shown in grindhouse theatres and the film was intentionally damaged to make it look like that. The story echoes Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965). The other part of Grindhouse is the zombie flick Planet Terror directed by Robert Rodriguez. The films are joined together by brilliant faux trailers that evoke the old exploitation drive-in classics.Chinjeolhan geumjassi (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance)
South Korean suspense thriller (2005)
Part three of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy. After spending more than 13 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of a little boy, Lee Guem-ja goes after the man who was really responsible. This is a dark film about revenge, emotional pain and how time can actually deepen wounds, so Park’s usual black humour is very welcome. His use of symbols and metaphors is wonderful, and the way that light and colour is used makes this film visually stunning. Also, watch Oldboy (2003), part two of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy.The Crow
American fantasy action (1994)
On Devil’s Night, Eric and his fiancée Sarah are attacked by a crazy gang in their flat. Sarah is raped and murdered, and Eric falls through a window to his death. A year after their deaths, a crow brings him back from the dead so that he can methodically exact revenge on the gang members one by one. The Crow is most known for being the film that Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, was killed during the making of. Despite what stubborn rumours say, his death is not in the film. The soundtrack is beautiful, featuring The Cure and a Nine Inch Nails cover of Joy Division’s Dead Souls. This film is the wet dream of every 90s goth.
How about you? Do you have any favourite revenge films?