I wish I could tell you I’m a “turn the other cheek” type of person, but I’m not. If you wrong me or the people I care about, sooner or later I’m going to get my retribution. I promise all my payback is both legal and non-violent, but you can’t say the same for many of the films that play on our movie screens. Revenge has always made for entertaining cinema where the audience, whether they want to admit to it or not, relates to the character that is seeking to even the score. There’s a reason they call it a revenge fantasy. Let’s take a look at the four films where our heroes and villains are out for blood that we the audience, can’t get enough of.
Braveheart may seem like a war movie when the credits finally roll, but the root of the whole story is revenge. The pompous English and their rapey laws allowing English Lords to sleep with the peasant wives of Scotland caused William Wallace (Mel Gibson) to hide his marriage. Could you blame him? Unfortunately, the secret comes to light and Wallace’s wife is executed in a public display. This causes Wallace to see red and in turn begins his quest to kill every Englishmen he sees. Wallace uses swords, axes and even a mace to carry out his violent retributions. Wallace may have started a revolution that led to Scotland’s freedom, but the basis for his war was they killed his wife. More proof that people love revenge. Braveheart took home the Oscar for Best Picture.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)
I have always envisioned Kill Bill as one movie that had a year long intermission. So if you have a problem with me technically putting two films in one spot then too bad. My list, my rules. Tarantino’s revenge flick pitted a former female assassin who was left for dead on her wedding day by her ex-team of assassins. The Bride as Uma Thurman is referred to, hunts down all her former teammates turned enemies with an array of very sharp objects. Vol. 1 was more samurai with Vol. 2 having a western theme in my opinion, but both are revenge films first. Kill Bill is not just seen as a story of revenge, but also a tale of female empowerment with Uma Thurman taking the lead as our sword wielding heroine. Plus I love the fact that through all the decapitating and dismemberment, the final showdown comes down to Pai Mei’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. Try saying that five times fast. Nobody does revenge like Mr. Tarantino.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Here’s my inevitable Anti-Critic pick. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the best of the Trek franchise and revenge is the key point to its greatness. Only the revenge is not perpetuated by our main character. Instead the vengeance comes from our villain, the great chest plated Ricardo Montalban as Star Trek super soldier Khan. In this film, it’s the actions of our hero Admiral James T. Kirk that caused Khan’s blood lust. Kirk marooned Khan’s band of genetically engineered warriors and is blamed for the death of Khan’s wife. When Khan is freed from the dead planet of Ceti Alpha V, he makes a B-line right for Kirk. Khan’s vengeful actions lead to one of the biggest scenes in Star Trek lore where (spoiler alert) Spock sacrifices himself to save the crew from Khan’s detonation of the Genesis experiment. All that revenge makes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan the best Trek film ever. KKKKKHHHHHHAAAAAANNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!
Poor General Maximus. The noble Roman played by Russell Crowe lead the empire to victory over the Germanic warlords and was set to rule Rome with the helping hand of democracy from the Senate. Unfortunately, the Emperor’s jerk son Commodus played by the scene stealing Joaquin Phoenix isn’t a fan of the Emperor’s retirement plan. Commodus kills the Emperor, Maximus’ family and attempts to kill Maximus, but fails. Maximus is forced into slavery where he becomes an unwilling gladiator. Maximus finds out his skills and his revenge soaked psyche allows him to move up the ranks in the deadly sport. This lands him in Rome’s coliseum in front of the man who destroyed his life. Maximus defies the Emperor and becomes a hero to the public. Commodus stacks the odds against the Spaniard, but he slashes down the competition again and again. Maximus finally gets the Evil Emperor one on one and takes him out before succumbing to his wounds. The guy goes from death’s door to becoming a star gladiator that takes out his sworn enemy on the biggest stage in the world. There’s nothing left for Maximus to do, but die and take home the Oscar for Best Picture.
So what four (or maybe five if you’re cheating) Revenge Movies do you think should have made the list? I can already hear cries for the overrated Death Wish or the poorly made The Last House on the Left. Follow me on Twitter @CW44CouchPotato and become a fan at facebook.com/CW44CouchPotato and let me know your picks.