The Seven Best Movie Revenge Scenes

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.

  • uncoolaidman

    Wow, I have to totally disagree on the Gangs of New York mention. I thought the ending was the weakest part of the film. Daniel Day-Lewis running through a bit of smoke before getting killed by shrapnel. It’s pretty much the definition of anti-climactic.

    Gladiator deserves a mention, as does Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There are not many villains I hate more than Dolores Umbridge, and her getting carried off by centaurs was pretty satisfying.

  • Lightspeed

    Ricardo Montalban (Khan) starred on Fantasy Island, not Pleasure Island.

  • OptimusDiabetus

    I thought the scene in Kick-Ass where Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) goes in to save her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) was pretty good. Gave me goosebumps.

  • Vince

    Saving Private Ryan – when Corporal Upham shoots the Nazi the squad had released earlier in the film who, despite his declaration of “Fuck Hitler”, shot Captain Miller during the German assault on the bridge.

    War revenge at its finest.

  • Acousticrat

    Man, I was really hoping “Sleepers” would have made it onto this list. Yes, I realize that the article is SCENES from movies, and most of the entire aforementioned movie deals with revenge, but still, the courtroom sequence (at least DeNiro’s performance therein) is worthy of mentioning.

  • DocDoom
  • 1. Screw Eli Roth and his shitty acting and even shittier directing.

    2. Your synopsis of Road to Perdition’s plot is way off. Paul Newman’s character has nothing to do with the death of Hanks’s family. The murders are ordered by Newman’s slimy son, a pre-Bond Daniel Craig. This completely pisses off Newman, but he refuses to give up his son to Hanks because he’s still family. In the end, Hanks’s massacre of Newman and his group isn’t so much about revenge on Paul Newman, it’s just the only way he can get access to Daniel Craig.

  • Steve

    Either Remy should go back and rewatch some of these films (Perdition) and do some minor fact checks (Korean Vengeance Trillogy… you even linked to it under the correct name…), or he just truly loves these movies so much that he made a bunch of factual errors along with his grammatical ones… this was a bit of a mess, but a fun read.

  • Jeff

    Revenge scene in Dragon Tatoo is worth a mention. Rapist pig!

  • Grant

    The Count of Monte Cristo…that’s all I have to say.

  • jeremy m

    Old boy needs to be on this list for sure.

  • GrandWazoo


    Great call. The classics are sometimes still the best.

  • @uncoolaid man, I loved Gangs ending, but respect your opinion. Gladiator ALMOST made it, but great call on Umbridge. She made my skin crawl.
    @Lightspeed, corrected, thank you.
    @Optimus, I loved that whole entire movie, so I agree there as well.
    @DocDoom, your silence is unsettling.
    @Pfunk, Fair enough, Nazi lover. No, I am kidding. And regarding Perdition, you and quite a few others seem to agree that I was off on that one, so I will concur I was off on that one. BUT, that end scene is still f*cking awesome, either way.
    @ Steve, I’ll take “sloppy read”. Been called worse.
    @ Jeff, good call, but I avoided rape-revenge movies or I would have had a list filled with exploitation films from the 70’s (which, come to think of it, would have been better received.)
    @Grant and Grand, I agree but that seemed an easy out.
    Looking back, I should have taken the easy outs.
    Guys and gals, been working my ass off on my site and this stuff, and about four other jobs, so sorry if this list was not as “tight” as some others. But I am so exhausted I am puking out of my eyeballs, so cut a brother a little bit of slack, I beg of you.

  • Eileen

    DEFINITELY an amazing list! Love this article! I must say one more honorable mention you missed, but it’s totally cool. The Crow 😉 Need I say more? lol 🙂

  • Diablo

    I must admit that I could not enjoy “Inglorious Basterds” for a couple of reasons. Mike Myers sticks out like a sore thumb. I do not understand why he was there and his impression of Montgomery was retarded. It wasn’t even over the top bad…it was just bad. Pretty much the entire cast of Inglorious Bastards made zero sense to me. Brad Pitt sort of worked…BJ Novak didn’t. Every single scene he was in, he played it like he was on the set of The Office. Pretty much the only casting decision that stuck out to me as really working was Christoph Waltz.

    But I am rambling. The “revenge” scene you are speaking of really bothered me as a former member of the military. That isn’t a revenge scene…its a fucking war crime. Its not even established if he is a Nazis or part of the Waffen SS. At best, he is a low level officer who is given the option of being savagely beaten to death or handing over Intel that will get more of his fellow soldiers killed. Reverse the uniforms and that dude is the films hero.

    Sorry but I do not understand why Inglorious Basterds is popular.

  • eLTeezy

    @Vince – Are you fucking kidding me?! Upham was the biggest piece of shit pussy in that movie. The revenge shouldn’t have had to even take place. AND he let Adam Goldberg get stabbed to death in what has got to be one of the hardest to watch scenes of the movie! God I hate Upham…

  • James

    Dead Man’s Shoes, the scene in Sonny’s house. If the reason this scene isn’t on the list is because you haven’t seen the movie, go see it – it’s awesome.

    Also, why did you have to censor the word ‘rape’?

  • GrandWazoo


    Then you simply hate Tarantino. His movies aren’t about making sense, having coherent plots, or portraying people the way they would actually act. He grew up on Spaghetti Westerns and Grindhouse flicks, so his style is most like those genres, which are known for all these inaccuracies which you are complaining about.

  • celery

    Man, really?

    I’m not going to lie, I haven’t seen Lady Vengeance, but the omission of the end of I Saw the Devil here is borderline criminal. That film was the most gruesome, thrilling, shocking, satisfying revenge ride I can imagine.

  • Zaggnita

    *Clutches chest in pain* Why is it that Kill Bill vol. 1 and 2 aren’t mentioned? I mean…the basis for these movies, is revenge. When you hear the title…KILL BILL you instantly think of revenge.
    Not to mention that the ending for the second volume is…the best ending for any revenge movie.

  • trashcanman

    Nice call with Lady Vengeance. Chan-wook Park is the goddamn vengeance MASTER. Even when he does a rom-com, it ends up being about vengeance (“I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK”). I would advise I Drink your Blood where a dude injects rabid dog’s blood into pastries, I Spit on Your Grave (the original, natch) with it’s castration scene that almost made me vomit, and the chariot death in Ben Hur, which may be more along the lines of comeuppance than revenge, but goddam is it SWEEEEET.

  • meh

    I saw the devil (Any scene). Lone wolf & cub (the part when Itto accuses the crooked officer and then just kills the whole platoon. And the other dozen or so guys who where outside). Ninja Scroll (the first time Jubei kills Gemma). Enter the dragon (the O’Hara fight).

  • Ethan

    Great list, man. I’d never seen it before, but now Lady Vengeance has stuck with me all day long. Absolutely haunting. Keep up the good work.

  • blastor138

    Kirk didn’t kill Khan’s family on purpose. And to be fair, Khan did try to kill him and his crew first. I guess the only thing Kirk was guilty of was nonfeasance by not checking up on the colony he set up on Seti Alpha 5.

  • Jezzer


    Let me make sure I have this right: Tarentino’s bad movies are actually good because they’re inspired by equally flawed source material? By that logic, Uwe Boll’s films are all masterpieces.

  • GrandWazoo


    Did I ever say that? No. I said judging his movies based off of your preconceived notions of historical accuracy, etc, is not the proper criteria. Yes, the scene described is a war crime, but that’s hardly the most inaccurate thing Tarantino has put into his movies. You are allowed to hate Tarantino; I know many people who do. However, it sounded like Diablo liked Tarantino, but hated Inglourious Basterds, and I was pointing out that you should go into a Tarantino movie knowing what to expect.

  • keo

    The Bear Jew scene made that German guy look like the coolest motherfucker on planet earth. That guy had gigantic balls of steel. I think Tarantino is a secrete nazi, he made that guy and Hans Landa look great, everyone in the film looked looked silly compared to the nazi’s. That SS Officer from the bar scene was also amazing, but not being as socially intelligent as Landa cost him his life.

  • Iggy Catalpa

    On the subject of Oldboy (which came up several times in the comments), am I the only guy on earth who HATED Oldboy? I thought it was the most ridiculous movie I ever saw, and I don’t mean that in the good way. The “revenge plot” featured in it was the most asinine thing I ever heard of, so convoluted and unlikely that it was light years beyond believability. (I won’t bother with writing out a long list of the flaws in the plot, anybody could find them by themselves just by watching the film!)

    Honestly, I truly think a lot of people give this movie a pass because it’s (admittedly) a beautifully filmed movie, but that’s about all it has going for it.

  • @Meh, great call about I Saw the Devil.

  • Diablo

    @GrandWazoo I greatly enjoy a lot of Tarantino’s films, though I must admit, I think I differ than most fans as I find “Jackie Brown” to be grossly under-appreciated. Then again, I grew up loving Pam Grier.

    I would highly disagree with you that his films do not follow coherent plots. I would say that “Inglorious Basterds” has a very logical plot and much easier to follow than say “Pulp Fiction”. There are parts of the film I liked. Like all of Tarantino’s films, the cinematography and sound track is exceptional. So to the dialogue and the pacing.

    But back to the point of this topic, which is revenge scenes. I argue that this scene in this film is not a revenge scene at all. You basically have a man who is killed for information. Its not established that he is anything other than an enemy soldier. He is brutally murdered for not turning over information. I find it to be an extremely disturbing scene. Now I understand that not having a background in the military, many people would not see the big deal. That’s fine with me…but even if you look at it from that point of view, its still not revenge. This guy was just some random soldier they caught and tortured.

    @Iggy I totally have your back brother/sister. Seriously I do not understand why that film gets so much accolades. Its good but sometimes I am taken aback where its practically compared to Citizen Kane in some circles.

  • Joe

    Where is the love for the final scene of Mad Max?

    Max adds to the sadism exponentially by giving Johnny the option of being immolated (as Johnny has subjected the Goose to previously) or hacking his own leg off (Saw style) and probably bleeding to death slowly.

    Forget mention, I’ll take that over butt explosives any day. Denzel is a badass, but that can’t make up for an idea that could have been dreamed up by a fifteen year old.

    Extra points because the director spent the rest of his career after the Max Trilogy making movies like Babe and Happy Feet.

  • Troy

    Good list, but c’mon. Where is the end of The Unforgiven. “he should’ve armed himself if he was gonna decorate his bar with my friend” (paraphrase) Number 1 by far.

  • bbear


  • phatsakis

    oldboy needs to be one this 100%

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  • Jacob

    No mention of the Departed and Marky Mark?

  • M. Schneider

    How on earth did “Sin City” not make the cut here?

  • MegaSolipsist

    How did Law Abiding Citizen not get on this list? It’s about a guy who lost everything as was failed by those he trusted, so he decides to get his revenge on the WHOLE F$%^ING WORLD!
    It’s brilliant.

  • ian peter

    why shouldn’t ‘CARRIE’ be included