I don’t know about you but I do enjoy a juicy revenge film. Let me just state, I’m a firm believer that the best way to get revenge on a person who has done you wrong is to get on with your life and focus on you. But who hasn’t fantasised about kicking the shit out of that high school bully? Obviously, that isn’t the best course of action but at least we get to enjoy some violent poetic justice through film. Here is my list of top 10 revenge films.
10. 7 Days (2010)
This Québécois film, based on Patrick Senécal’s novel titled “Les sept jours du talion”, is directed by Daniel Grou. It tells the story of Dr Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault), who captures and tortures the man who raped and murdered his young daughter. It’s quite simplistic plot wise, but effective. 7 Days is a slow burn, with minimal dialogue and no soundtrack, it results in a very uneasy and atmospheric film. This film is not necessarily enjoyable for the justice served but more for the realistic inner turmoil Hamel deals with as he submits his victim to torture.
9. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Probably the most elegant of revenge films on the list, The Count of Monte Cristo, directed by Kevin Reynolds, is based on the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel) is falsely imprisoned for 13 years, a victim of politics and a jealous “friend”. After learning many skills under the tutelage of Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), Dantes plots his escape and revenge. After discovering a long-lost treasure and upon his return to Marseille, Dante assumes a new identity to reclaim the love of his life and seek vengeance on the man who imprisoned him.
8. Death Proof (2007)
There are many Tarantino films I could have picked for this list, many I have thoroughly enjoy such as Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, and Kill Bill. But there is something about three strong women (Rosario Dawson, Zoë Bell and Tracie Thoms) kicking the shit out of a murderous stuntman (Kurt Russell) that I enjoy best.
7. The Last House on the Left (1972/2009)
Whether it’s the original Wes Craven classic or the Dennis Iliadis remake, the story of the daughter avenged by her parents is definitely one you can cheer for. The Craven directorial debut was a much more positively received rape-and-revenge film compared to the latter release of I Spit on Your Grave. The assumption that the parents would be helpless is completely turned on its head with a revenge ploy that couldn’t be more well deserved.
6. Hard Candy (2005)
One of Ellen Page’s earliest main roles and directed by David Slade, Hard Candy details an underage girl seemingly being groomed online by paedophile Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson), once she is invited into Jeff’s home her true intentions are revealed. Page’s character Hayley sedates and “tortures” Jeff as revenge for his suspected involvement in her friend’s disappearance and for his paedophilic proclivities. To this day Hard Candy is one of my favourite Ellen Page films.
5. Oldboy (2003)
Chan-wook Park tells the story of Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi), imprisoned for an unknown reason for 15 years, once released he wishes to exact revenge on the mysterious kidnapper. On discovering the grim truth of his situation Dae-su Oh comes to learn that he is a victim of a very complex revenge ploy himself.
4. The Crow (1994)
Directed by Alex Proyas and starring the late Brandon Lee, The Crow tells the story of Eric who rises from the dead to avenge his raped and murdered partner Shelley (Sofia Shinas). After seeking out the gang members responsible, Eric, with the help of police officer Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) finds himself taking on the head of an underground criminal organisation. The Crow is a much-loved film and I’m sure myself and many others are glad that Entertainment Media Investment Corporation could digitally complete the film for release after Brandon Lee’s tragic passing. It also features a fantastic soundtrack, if I do say so myself.
3. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Paul McGuigan’s slick and ingenious revenge thriller stars Josh Hartnett as Slevin, a victim of mistaken identity who finds himself dragged in the middle of a feud between two crime bosses who claim he is indebted to them. With the help of delightful and quirky Lindsey (Lucy Liu), Slevin must figure out how to trick them before they take what is owed. LNS ends on a pretty tasty twist which left me quite impressed.
2. Harry Brown (2009)
Directed by Daniel Barber. When ex-serviceman Harry loses his wife, it takes a bunch of thugs murdering his only friend to tip him over the edge. You get to watch Michael Caine kill a load of chavs, do I need to say anymore?
1. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Shane Meadows does it again with the stunning Dead Man’s Shoes, a dark and bleak story of Richard (Paddy Considine), who goes about seeking to avenge his murdered mentally handicapped brother. This film is difficult to stomach but beautifully told. Violent, nauseating, visceral yet moving. Very few films can evoke such a spectrum of emotion. I can honestly say this film blew my mind but it is unlikely I can watch it again for a good long while.