Itís been a big year for revenge movies. This weekend Jodie Fosterís awesome, ultra-realistic vengeance flick The Brave One debuted at number one. Before that Kevin Bacon sputtered in a similar, but inferior movie called Death Sentence. This summer big movies like Spider-Man 3 and The Bourne Identity were big on revenge too. The business of getting even has never been better for Hollywood, whether itís men in tights getting some payback, or suburban soccer moms out to bring balance to the universe by blowing away the bad guys. Forget torture-porn, bring on the vengeance-porn! Hereís my take on the best revenge movies ever made.
TOP 5 REVENGE FLICKS
5. Oldboy (2003)
Korean director Chan-Wook Park lives and breathes vengeance, and in fact Oldboy is part of a trilogy of movies by Park called the ďvengeance trilogyĒ, but itís head and shoulders the best of the bunch. As a movie, Iím not even sure I like it. Itís almost too angry, too amoral, too twisted to get a handle on. But thereís no denying that Oldboy is revenge boiled down to its purest, most vicious, most sickening form. Itís the story of Oh Dae-su, a man imprisoned 15-years for reasons beyond his reckoning. When he escapes, heís hell bent on revenge and begins a rampage of pain to hunt down his persecutors. Where his search takes him is both shocking and rotten, a sickening twist of ultimate, disturbed vengeance. Thereís nothing sweet about this revenge, but itís served cold. Stone cold.
4. Office Space (1999)
Work sucks and so Office Space allows a trio of office workers to live out the revenge fantasies shared by just about everyone and anyone whoís ever had a boss. Pushed too far at his dead end job, Peter Gibbons wakes up one day and decides not to go to work. Itís not that heís lazy, itís that he just doesnít care. As Peter says it, ďIt's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation?Ē There is none, and soon his determination not to show up for work anymore turns into a full scale assault on the corporate world. Whether Peter is cleaning fish at his desk or talking his friends into embezzling millions from his company, Office Space is the ultimate revenge flick for the little guy who just canít take it anymore.
3. Ben-Hur (1959)
Ben-Hur has become the classic standard against which epics are measured, but at its heart the film is one big, sprawling, revenge flick. Charlton Heston plays Judah, a rich Jewish prince in the first century, betrayed by his friend and sentenced to slavery on a galley for crimes he didnít commit. Judah swears to come back and take revengeÖ and he does. Since itís Heston, the revenge is full of angry monologues and fighting. The movieís big chariot race gets a lot of praise for being such a massive undertaking for the time, but itís more than just a cool battle sequence, itís all part of Judahís desperate struggle to get a little payback. Like Gladiator? Take a minute and say thanks to Ben-Hur.
2. Kill Bill (2003 & 2004)
Quentin Tarantinoís whole bloody affair is one massive, brutal, ass-kicking revenge epic in which Uma Thurman plays a wronged bride who decides to track down and murder everyone who had a part in doing her wrong. Like Oldboy, itís an entire film devoted to the vicious pursuit of balancing the scales by bringing payback to the bastards who did you in. For The Bride, sometimes that means hacking off dozens of arms with a samurai sword and sometimes it means listening to David Carradine explain why he loves Superman. The movieís a masterpiece of vindictive violence, revenge, and ruthless kung-fu style repayment. They had it comin.
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek II is more than a Trek movie, itís a masterful film and the only one on this list in which the person out for revenge isnít the hero. Instead, itís the dastardly Khan whoís out avenge himself on Captain Kirk by depriving him of his life. But even that isnít enough for Khan Noonien Sing. He blames Kirk for the death of his wife and for marooning his crew on a hell of a planet. Khan will settle for nothing less than ultimate suffering rained down upon the brave Enterprise crew. Sure, youíre rooting for Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to outwit him and survive, but even at his worst you canít help but sympathize with Khan and his mad quest to hurt those who hurt him by taking away his chance at a happy life. Even his own death couldnít quench Khanís bitter revenge. His last words say it all: ďFrom hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.Ē Revenge is never as cold as when itís served up in space.
The Passion of the Christ - Satan gets revenge on God by tricking the Romans into beating the crap out of his son for 90 minutes. Come on, think about it. Getting revenge on God is pretty sweet.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou - ďNow if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I'm going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to tag along is more than welcome.Ē
The Brave One - Jodie Foster rivals Uma Thurman as one of filmís best female vengeance seekers. Batman beware, Fosterís horning in on your action.
The Bourne Ultimatum - Matt Damon kicks amazing amounts of ass in paying back the bastards who stole his life.
The Princess Bride - Revenge fuels Inigo Montoyaís quest to bring ultimate suffering to the six fingered man. Unfortunately, thereís not a lot of money in revenge.