5 – Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) (dir. Park Chan-Wook)
After spending almost 14 years in prison for murder Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) decides to find the man that made her take the blame for this hideous crime as well as the daughter that she’s been missing all this time. This is one of the most gradually growing revenge tales I’ve ever seen. With every act the film builds momentum and gets better and better.
4 – Leon: The Professional (1994) (dir. Luc Besson)
Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is taken in by a professional hitman, Leon (Jean Reno), after her family are massacred by Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Mathilda wants Leon to teach her how to kill so she can enact revenge on a certain very bad man.
3 – Kill Bill (2003/2004) (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
The Bride (Uma Thurman) is beat nearly to death by her former boyfriend, Bill (David Carradine), and the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She survives this beating and comes back for revenge against every last one of them. With Tarantino showing us how much he loves the old west and the Japanese samurai films at the same time you can’t help but love this great tale of revenge. As The Bride travels the world hunting down each and every one of these Deadly Vipers with her fancy new sword, revenge has never been sweeter.
2 – Oldboy (2003) (dir. Park Chan-Wook)
One night Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) is kidnapped and held prisoner in a room for 15 years. One day he’s kindly released. Without knowing who or why he was held for so long he goes out searching for answers, and sometimes he has a hammer with him. This is one of those movies that when you watch it you don’t know what kind of film you’re getting yourself until the end credits are rolling. With one of the most surprising endings in a film, we learn that revenge may not be what it seems.
1 – Memento (2000) (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Leonard (Guy Pearce) is searching for the man who killed his wife. The only problem is he can’t remember who it is. He can’t remember what he did five minutes ago. Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss and he can’t seem to remember anything or anyone that happens in the last few moments. Here is one of the most interesting thriller/revenge films I’ve ever seen. We are given the story as if we are Leonard, remembering the last moment all the way back to the beginning. At first, this method of storytelling can be very jarring to the viewer, but as you get used to it you can’t help but be drawn into the story due to the expert writing and directing.
Are there any revenge films I missed in my Top Ten?
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