Aug 28 2013
One time, when I worked with special needs kids, I came back from the school with them, and someone had put a bottle full of piss on my car. Not sure if you know special needs kids, but they found this understandably hilarious. Thing is, I didn’t. At all. I felt it took away from some of my authority in their eyes, and I took it as an act of war. It only took me about an hour to find out who was responsible (and no, it was not a special needs kid, you ass). He was a former employee with us, and even though him and I got along (in a sort of love/hate/love buddy cop way), he was one who liked pulling pranks, and drove by the residence one day when we were picking up the kids and left a bottle of piss on my car as a joke.
Well, I thought it was SO funny, I decided to send a subscription of Barely Legal magazine to his house under his name. Thing is, at the time, he was living with his girlfriend. Oh, and they were living at HER parents house. That, my friends, is revenge. We have not spoken since, and I take that as a massive victory. But if you look, all it did was make me act as much of an ass as him. No one benefited from that, even though, at the time, it gave us both a chuckle. And THAT, my friends, is also revenge. If you hold a hot coal because you are angry at someone, it only burns you. My stupid story aside, these five movies do far better at conveying the true horrors of revenge. And these are five films no one ever talks about, so I am assuming not enough of you have seen these movies. These are the back-alley revenge movies you watch after the mainstream ones.
This is how I look every Monday morning.
This 2010 South Korean revenge movie (my favorite sub-genre) was actually recommended to me on this site from a reader, and much like most recommendations I get here, it blew my mind. Bedeviled is about a woman who goes to visit her friend on an island that is closed off to most of the world, and what she finds is someone who has been broken and dehumanized by the people around her. Some REALLY bad stuff goes down, and one of the women snaps. What transpires next is pure, violent revenge, on every single person on that island who turned a blind eye to the suffering Bok-nam was forced to cope with her entire life.
I know South Korean and revenge movies are synonymous, so this will be the only one on the list, but we can all admit no one can do revenge movies quite like South Korea can. The build up to her actual breakdown in this film is tense and palpable, and only makes the final half hour that much more amazing. It is surreal because you feel yourself routing for her as she is butchering people because of everything she went through. The thing will stand out most to you is the performance of Seo Young-hee as Bok-nam. You can feel her sadness grow into rage, and you can feel that rage boil over. A violent, sad film, but as far as revenge movies go, it is one of the bleakest and best.
” say something about my complexion, I double-dog dare you…”
Wait a minute, is this the first time I am recommending a Western? Well, rest assured, it is not the typical western. More a revenge thriller with Western film influences. There are also some supernatural elements to the movie that add even more to the mix, and make it truly memorable. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself.
Red Hill is a film about a Mexican man who was pretty much wronged by an entire generation of people in a town, and he comes back to exact revenge on them for what they did to his family. What’s interesting is, the movie focuses on a new police officer who just started working the area, and how he is trying to stop this mad man, but slowly, it gets revealed to him why this man is doing what he is doing, and we see that this adds a layer of inner conflict to the police officer’s thoughts on approaching this, which really adds some interesting layers to the story. But what really sells this movie is the “bad guy”, Jimmy Conway. He plays like a Jason Vorhees more than a human bent of revenge. He stalks these people who wronged him, one by one, and makes them pay. It also helps to add to the horror feel that Jimmy is all scarred up and is mute, never saying so much as a word. Well, he does say one thing, actually.
Trust me, see Red Hill. It is a VERY different revenge movie, and an enthralling ride. As pointed out in the comments below, I think I may have just spoiled the entire movie, and I never do that, so sorry.
Lucky Number Slevin
As much as they are both knowing for under-emoting, it really works well with their characters here.
I LOVED this movie. Like LOVED LOVED LOVED loved. I think it is sharp, quick witted, wonderfully written, and wonderfully executed. The irony being that I HATE Josh Hartnett and think him an actor who relies more on standing there and making handsome faces than he does with actual emoting. But oddly, that cockiness really works for his Slevin character in this brilliant film. Honestly, and don’t beat me for this, Lucky Number Slevin is one of the best revenge movies I have ever seen.
Thing is, I can’t tell you why.
To tell you why ruins the ENTIRE film, and the experience of this movie is something I refuse to ruin for anyone. I will say this, take the writing style of Tarantino, throw in the pacing of Aaron Sorkin, and top it all off with a neo-noir, humor-infused story of warring gang lords and the young man that ended up being caught in the middle of that, and you have Lucky Number Slevin. But just trust me, there is revenge involved. Awesome, plot-twisting revenge.
Considering I cannot say too much about the film, here, see for yourself how magical it is:
Every performance in this film is awesome for entirely different reasons.
Girls Against Boys
I thought the cinematography of this scene was killer, terrible pun intended
Okay, I know I am going to catch some heat for this, but that’s not a bad thing. Frankly, you all have been WAY TOO APPROVING in my past few months, so as much as I try hold off on riling feathers, I need to make my peace about this movie. Is it a rape/revenge movie? Yes, and I try to never talk up any other film of this ilk up besides The Woman (because it is SO MUCH MORE than that), but I will openly admit that I think Girls Against Boys is a wildly misunderstood film. If you take it on the surface, yes, rape revenge. But if you actually pay attention to some finer details, you will realize that this is very much the Fight Club of rape/revenge movies. It is about self discovery and needing to kill off parts of your old self in order for your new self to survive.
A girl’s life is slipping off the rails, and she needs to be stronger so she can feel like she is taking control before it completely spins out of control all together and ruins her. In comes the stronger, sexier, more deadly girl to lead her down her road of revenge. It is dark, and on the surface, you may take everything literally, but I didn’t. A perfect example of this is the food thing. The food thing goes hand in hand with the kills in this movie. They kill dudes, and eat indulgent foods, as if laughing at tropes that all the world has thrust upon the female species. It is silly and satirical as much as it is literal. But it is more than what most people are giving it credit for right now.
And if people stopped looking at the “exploitation” label that hovers over it, they would realize, it is anything but that.
” Hey kid, you want to taste the bacon?”
Your brain locked this movie away and refused to remember it, even though DeNiro, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Bacon are just some of the talent associated with it. Why? Because it dealt with little boys being raped. Much like most people avoid the type of rape/revenge scenarios like the one I mention in film above, it is somehow even MORE taboo to the world and the movie going public when it is young boys (even though rape is rape, and should be viewed as uniformly upsetting on all counts), and that is just what Sleepers is. A rape revenge story, only this time with men. The story of some young guys who go to juvie, and while they are there, serving their sentences, a particularly nasty cop (played almost TOO well by Kevin Bacon) takes advantage of them in increasingly unsettling and sexual ways.
Flash forward, the kids are all grown up, they have found the guard, and decide to exact their revenge. Oh wait, I didn’t mention they then use a priest as an alibi? Yes, it is a twisted tale, and one that has many layers (like a cronut), but Sleepers is one of those AMAZING revenge movies no one talks about because it makes everyone so justifiably uncomfortable.
But at its heart, revenge should make us uncomfortable. It is ugly and juvenile, and tends to only perpetuate what was done in the first place, creating an unending cycle. Unless someone leaves a bottle of pee on your car. Then anything goes.
Sorry, but you need to see what set me down the dark road of revenge.
Speaking of going. Go to my site. I got some gold on there this week. Saying “gold” while looking at that bottle off piss is making me nauseous.
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