Revenge is a sort of insane thing to think about. I mean, when you see it brought to fruition on film, it is sort of awesome. But when you think about what was required in the first place to make revenge necessary, in those terms, revenge sucks. Revenge usually means something really bad had to happen to someone good at some point. Something that would make the revenge not only justifiable, but enjoyable to watch.
When putting together this list, I decided to leave all the full on r*pe-revenge exploitation movies from the seventies out of the mix, mainly because the stuff you have to endure as a viewer before getting to the revenge is just not material I can recommend to anyone in good faith. But all of the films on this list, I can and would recommend to anyone.
Inglorious Basterds: Bear Jew
Is there a Bear Jew action figure yet? If there isn’t, there NEEDS to be. So many things make the baseball bat scene in this film amazing. First of all, Bear Jew is horror director Eli Roth, who did both Hostels and Cabin Fever. For some reason, that makes me like the character even more. Plus, he makes a Ted Williams Red Sox reference, and being from just outside of Boston my whole life, that made me smile even wider.
And on top of all that, the lead up to his entrance, and then the power of the entrance itself:
So beautifully ominous, coming through the darkness, ready for the kill.
What makes this so great is that most people hate different things, but in the case of Nazis, everyone agrees: They suck! So to see a Nazi, who is stoic and proud of who he is right up to the final moment, get his skull smashed in with a bat was far too gratifying a moment for most to be comfortable with. I, on the other hand, was completely comfortable with it.
I just think the pacing and cinematography of the scene are just too perfect for words, but I am trying to use them anyway. And then, when it finally culminates, and the Nazi is looking Bear Jew right in the eyes, and Bear Jew lifts that bat, that you think to yourself:
There will never be a home run better than this one.
The sound the bat makes when it connects with the skull is my ringtone.
If only all pinatas were Nazis. Life would be good.
Man on Fire: Bomb in the Butt Scene
Anytime I need to remember just how awesome Denzel Washington is, I watch this movie. Outside of a Western movie, you never see a lead with this much grim determination in his heart on getting this girl back. But it is not that that fuels his rage. It is the belief she is dead, and that he let her down. That he failed her. This was also the last time Dakota Fanning blew my mind as a tiny actress with a mind blowing emotional range.
I tried plugging my controller into this picture to try to play it, it looks that cool.
The idea of the film is that Denzel is the bodyguard of Dakota Fanning as he has been hired to protect her, and some unfortunate things happen around them, and she gets taken. From that point Denzel is on a mission. He decides to find her and basically violently kills anything that stands between him getting to her.
And though he has quite a few brutal revenge scenes in this movie (the fingersnipping scene being one), it is the bomb up the ass that really does it.
Yes, he shoves a bomb up some guys ass and then walks away as it explodes behind him.
There is so single slow motion walk away in movies that is more badass than this one right here.
I am sorry, if anyone was in that scene other than Denzel, I would have been like “that was lame” but Washington sold the scene, a hundred percent. Also, this film has one of Christopher Walken’s best lines of all time in it:
“He’s about to paint his masterpiece”
Though the original is a great film, revenge movies in general don’t get much better than the Man on Fire remake.
Pulp Fiction: Gimp Revenge
Ah, who can forget that scene?
I was seventeen when I saw this is theaters, and we literally CHEERED during the revenge scene.
Though the whole movie is a dark and vast mosaic of a story, it is when they stumble into the pawn shop that stuff goes from “Neo-Noir-Crime-Caper” straight into “grindhouse”, and ironically, they would both be genres Tarantino has confessed love for, so it kind of makes sense, but cinematically speaking, I did not see it coming.
It gets dark, and feel very “Deliverance” for a bit, but then, before things get too twisted to unsee, one hero gets a second chance and bounces. And even though they are enemies up to that point, Willis’ Butch character will NOT leave the Marsellus to be raped by a bunch of deviants, so he chooses his weapon:
I watch the movie today and I still wish he went with the chainsaw, but the katana was a Tarantino nod to the karate chop suey movies he loved growing up.
And he goes back to even things out. And the best part? Marsellus is left alone to do what he sees fit because, up to that point and off screen, they did some nameless stuff to him. So the real joy here is the real revenge we never see happen, but we know it had to have been brutal. Marsellus was not the kind of man you messed with. And I am pretty sure that lesson was taught in as vile a manner as possible. Typical Tarantino, though, leaving it to our imagination.
My imagination is sick! Well played, man.
Road to Perdition: Hanks Takes Out Newman
How have I not sung the praises of this film yet on this site before now? I think I was saving it for “best comic books to movies” list I plan on doing, but either way, it HAS to be here. Never before had you seen such a truly dark side to Tom Hanks, and to the same degree, Paul Newman. Especially at this point in his career. The entire film blew me away, and I know so few people have seen it, so I will speak sparingly here, so as to not ruin any of it for you.
Every shot is this beautiful. The whole film is a real gem.
And though I will avoid the major spoiler here, let me give you some idea of the story. Tom Hanks is a hitman working under Paul Newman, who basically runs the town. Newman has very much been like a Father figure to the Tom Hanks character his whole life, and all seems well.
The Hanks character has a family, but does all he can to keep the life they lead a secret to them. Well, one night, his most curious son sneaks in his car and sees him do a hit. And the big man(Newman) finds out about it.
” Dad, these Father and son weekend outings are getting weird.”
Newman then goes to Hanks’ house and has his wife and child killed. But the second child, the one who saw everything, flees with Hanks. And then it is a cat and mouse story, noir style. It is an utterly remarkable film. And that final scene, shot in silence while the rain hammers down, is breathtaking.
This is the revenge scene in the film, so as to avoid having it spoiled for you, I suggest skipping ahead:
Even the final exchange is filmmaking at its finest.
Sometimes, revenge hits far closer to home than anyone would want to think, and even now, while watching some clips and writing about it, it is easy for me to see why this is one of my favorite films.