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09.20.2013by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Essential Revenge Movies (Video Edition)

The highly acclaimed PRISONERS opens today and tells the story of a father's attempted revenge on the man he believes abducted his daughter. We can all relate to the feelings of desperation and hopelessness anyone would feel in a situation like this, but we allow ourselves to feel the emotional roller-coaster on the big screen as entertainment. There is a long history of revenge themed movies and here are the ten best in our opinion. If your favorite didn't make the cut, mention it in the Talk Backs below.

HONORABLE MENTION - HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN

It started as a fake trailer for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's GRINDHOUSE and became a full length feature starring the great Rutger Hauer. It is completely over the top, ridiculous, and insanely violent, but it does showcase one homeless man's rampage against those destroying the city he loves. Come for the vengeance, stay for the decapitations.

#10 - THE BOONDOCK SAINTS

While it is not one of my favorites, I do respect the fan-base that has built up around this movie. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery play Irish brothers who kill some mobsters in self defense and decide to clean up Boston from the criminal underworld. A nice performance by Willem Dafoe adds to the vigilante storyline that truly is closer to being a PUNISHER movie than the two authorized Marvel flicks.

#9 - V FOR VENDETTA

This Wachowski produced adaptation of the comic book showed the world the iconic Guy Fawkes mask that has become a symbol for protests around the world. Hugo Weaving plays V, the masked title character who shepherds Natalie Portman through ways to overthrow the totalitarian government. The two work together to give back to the poor and helpless by any means necessary. A fantasy, sure, but also a striking portrait of what could be.

#8 - HARD TO KILL

Mason Storm witnessed something he shouldn't have. The mob took his wife and put him in a coma. Now he is OUT FOR JUSTICE. No, that isn't right. Now he is MARKED FOR DEATH. Nope, wrong again. I got it. He is HARD TO KILL. This Steven Seagal classic takes the revenge tale down the "you kill my wife, I kill every single one of you" route complete with the weakest martial arts moves of any movie, and I have seen THE CRIPPLED MASTERS.

#7 - OLDBOY

The reverse of the revenge tale, this great movie has our main character the one who is being punished and must find out why. Sure, the protagonist must get his own revenge, but it is all about the villain's rationale for seeking revenge in the first place that makes the twist ending for this movie so potent. Get ready for Spike Lee's English remake by checking out the original. It is chock full of double vengeance!

#6 - THE CROW

A superhero vengeance movie! Brandon Lee's death soured this franchise for a long time, but the idea of returning from the dead to avenge yourself and your wife is a powerful storytelling trick. Lee does a great job of playing Eric Draven and makes The Crow both an iconic visual character and an enduring moment in movie history. I hope the reboot does this movie justice moreso than any of the craptastic sequels.

#5 - TAKEN

Liam Neeson has a particular set of skills and he sure as hell knows how to use them. TAKEN follows the standard revenge outline but managed to surprise everyone by making DARKMAN himself show off creative ways to dispatch thugs. They could make dozens of these movies and while they may not be the best written movies, they would be fun to watch just to see Liam Neeson cracking skulls and taking names.

#4 - MAN ON FIRE

Even though they are making it a TV series, Tony Scott's movie will always be Denzel Washington's most badass role. Forget TRAINING DAY, when you watch MAN ON FIRE you know that Denzel's Creasy is not someone you f*ck with. He has forged a bond with Pita, the girl he protects and does anything to get her back, no matter the cost to himself or others. I defy you to watch MAN ON FIRE and not be on the edge of your seat as you root for the bad guys to get blown to smithereens.

#3 - PAYBACK

The title says it all. One of Mel Gibson's best movies, PAYBACK details a shitty criminal doing everything he can to f*ck over the organized criminals who f*cked him over. Brian Helgeland's movie is hilarious and dark but also the perfect homage to pulpy detective stories. Combine that with knowing every character in this movie is a prick and you can enjoy everyone getting screwed over in every which way.

#2 - DEATH WISH

Charles Bronson is the father of revenge cinema. If it wasn't for DEATH WISH, we wouldn't have this list at all. While the series devolved into a gun-spewing action series, the first film was a combination of vigilante justice and good old fashioned revenge. When you think of Bronson, you think of DEATH WISH. And when you think of DEATH WISH, you think of vengeance.

#1 - KILL BILL

A lot of Quentin Tarantino's movies are about revenge, but none as much as KILL BILL. Uma Thurman plays a role reserved for men in a way that we know she could tango with Bronson, Neeson, or any other guy on this list and probably come out on top. Whether it is a swordfight with Lucy Liu, a kitchen knifefight with Vivica Fox, or the Exploding Palm Technique versus David Carradine, The Bride gets her vengeance and it is a damn masterpiece.

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9:55AM on 09/22/2013
Nice list, though of course we all have our own choices that we would put on there. Though since Oldboy's my favorite movie I would have bumped that up to #1. At least top 5!
Nice list, though of course we all have our own choices that we would put on there. Though since Oldboy's my favorite movie I would have bumped that up to #1. At least top 5!
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+5
3:02AM on 09/22/2013
V for vendetta did have a director. Poor guy never gets any credit, and most people assume the Wachovskis directed it. James mcteigue is his name.
V for vendetta did have a director. Poor guy never gets any credit, and most people assume the Wachovskis directed it. James mcteigue is his name.
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+6
3:15PM on 09/21/2013
Pfffff obviously Commando should've been number 1. In all seriousness though there's a lot missing here, and it may be against the grain but I really didn't enjoy the Kill Bill films, though I gave em a try.
Pfffff obviously Commando should've been number 1. In all seriousness though there's a lot missing here, and it may be against the grain but I really didn't enjoy the Kill Bill films, though I gave em a try.
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12:10PM on 09/21/2013
The absence of Gladiator and Count of Monte Cristo (any movie version of it...though V for Vendetta sort of honors it) is a travesty.

The Count of Monte Cristo is pretty much the greatest story of revenge, nay the father of revenge stories, that pretty much most of these films owe their concepts to and it's truly awful to not to include it even in an honorable mention.
The absence of Gladiator and Count of Monte Cristo (any movie version of it...though V for Vendetta sort of honors it) is a travesty.

The Count of Monte Cristo is pretty much the greatest story of revenge, nay the father of revenge stories, that pretty much most of these films owe their concepts to and it's truly awful to not to include it even in an honorable mention.
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1:19AM on 09/21/2013
come on no death sentence
come on no death sentence
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1:18AM on 09/21/2013
a classic
a classic
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1:17AM on 09/21/2013
love this movie popped my revenge movie cherry on this one
love this movie popped my revenge movie cherry on this one
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1:15AM on 09/21/2013
good one but not my fav seagal flick that would be out for justice
good one but not my fav seagal flick that would be out for justice
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3:31PM on 09/20/2013

Umm...

OLDBOY AT #7??!!! INSANITY!
OLDBOY AT #7??!!! INSANITY!
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12:41PM on 09/20/2013

Death Sentence

It amazes me Hobo with a Shotgun is an honorable mention yet Death Sentence isn't mentioned at all?!? Arguably the best revenge flick because it really shows how revenge does nothing for you. For shame.
It amazes me Hobo with a Shotgun is an honorable mention yet Death Sentence isn't mentioned at all?!? Arguably the best revenge flick because it really shows how revenge does nothing for you. For shame.
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12:37PM on 09/20/2013
There isn't a single Clint Eastwood title in this list, which seems kind of sketchy. Personally, I'd also include the 1971 Get Carter, which I suppose has more than a little bit in common with Payback. I'm guessing you didn't want to pick more than one title per actor, which is why we don't have Darkman, Rob Roy, Mad Max, or I Saw the Devil on here. I'm surprised you didn't include one of the El Mariachi movies instead of a Steven Seagal flick. Or maybe you couldn't not include Seagal on here
There isn't a single Clint Eastwood title in this list, which seems kind of sketchy. Personally, I'd also include the 1971 Get Carter, which I suppose has more than a little bit in common with Payback. I'm guessing you didn't want to pick more than one title per actor, which is why we don't have Darkman, Rob Roy, Mad Max, or I Saw the Devil on here. I'm surprised you didn't include one of the El Mariachi movies instead of a Steven Seagal flick. Or maybe you couldn't not include Seagal on here just cuz that's kind of what he does.
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12:31PM on 09/20/2013
This is one of the films that my dad and I watched while I was growing up. Absolutely love this film.
This is one of the films that my dad and I watched while I was growing up. Absolutely love this film.
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12:06PM on 09/20/2013

BULLSHIT LIST

Where the hell is MAD MAX? BRAVEHEART? Hell, Mel Gibson's entire filmography could take up this list. THE PATRIOT, EDGE OF DARKNESS. Revenge is a dish best served... by Gibson!

Where's THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES? STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN? UNFORGIVEN? GLADIATOR? THIEF? Even ROCKY IV could've been an honorable mention.

And BOONDOCK SAINTS isn't even a revenge movie!

At least you got MAN ON FIRE on here.
Where the hell is MAD MAX? BRAVEHEART? Hell, Mel Gibson's entire filmography could take up this list. THE PATRIOT, EDGE OF DARKNESS. Revenge is a dish best served... by Gibson!

Where's THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES? STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN? UNFORGIVEN? GLADIATOR? THIEF? Even ROCKY IV could've been an honorable mention.

And BOONDOCK SAINTS isn't even a revenge movie!

At least you got MAN ON FIRE on here.
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11:26AM on 09/20/2013
[link]
can't forget this revenge scene
[link]
can't forget this revenge scene
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11:24AM on 09/20/2013
Cool list, but you're missing The Horseman. That Aussie movie is fucking brutal. Or what about I Spit on Your Grave or The Last House on The Left.
Cool list, but you're missing The Horseman. That Aussie movie is fucking brutal. Or what about I Spit on Your Grave or The Last House on The Left.
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11:22AM on 09/20/2013

Great list

Still, Memento, Straw Dogs, Gladiator and The Outlaw Josey Wales should have been in there somewhere.
Still, Memento, Straw Dogs, Gladiator and The Outlaw Josey Wales should have been in there somewhere.
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11:15AM on 09/20/2013
This list could use more "High Plains Drifter."
This list could use more "High Plains Drifter."
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11:08AM on 09/20/2013

Love revenge flicks

I'm a big fan of Revenge films, despite the bad reputation they usually get.

I would've added Dead Man's Shoes or Death Sentence here but it's a solid list with plenty of suggestions for me to check out
I'm a big fan of Revenge films, despite the bad reputation they usually get.

I would've added Dead Man's Shoes or Death Sentence here but it's a solid list with plenty of suggestions for me to check out
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+1
10:42AM on 09/20/2013
Speaking of revenge movies --> Darkman!
Speaking of revenge movies --> Darkman!
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10:29AM on 09/20/2013

what?

No Jaws IV: The Revenge?
No Jaws IV: The Revenge?
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10:02AM on 09/20/2013

If it wasn't for DEATH WISH, we wouldn't have this list at all.

And yet, it's # 2.
Long live Paul Kersey!
And yet, it's # 2.
Long live Paul Kersey!
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2:24AM on 09/20/2013
Nobody quite does a bloody revenge fantasy in contemporary cinema like Quentin Tarantino, that's for sure.
Nobody quite does a bloody revenge fantasy in contemporary cinema like Quentin Tarantino, that's for sure.
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2:19AM on 09/20/2013
Pretty much the ultimate cinematic Papa Wolf.
Pretty much the ultimate cinematic Papa Wolf.
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2:18AM on 09/20/2013
A really stylish, involving film with something to say. Yes, it's not an exact scene-for-scene adaptation of the graphic novel, but I did really like some of the changes (such as making Evey a lot more innocent in the beginning). Some of the visuals in this film are totally outstanding, my favourite being the domino sequence that was done for real.
A really stylish, involving film with something to say. Yes, it's not an exact scene-for-scene adaptation of the graphic novel, but I did really like some of the changes (such as making Evey a lot more innocent in the beginning). Some of the visuals in this film are totally outstanding, my favourite being the domino sequence that was done for real.
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