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Did Payback run away?
October 19, 2008 4:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best one man revenge against the world films ever.

They may have taken his daughter or killed his brother. He's probably bitter, retired or an alcoholic. He can't trust anyone. He might come out of retirement for one more job. The enemy may be an Arab, a Serbian or good ole faceless government corruption. Hero must be able to pull bullets out of self with tweezers, grit teeth, sweat, and appear flawed but irresistable to women much younger than themselves.

So...movies in the mould of Payback, Shooter or Taken, with a dollop of A-Team and Macgyver thrown in for good measure. I expect films like this to be fairly throwaway and far fetched to a certain extent, but I'd prefer recommendations with some sort of script and production values rather than pure Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren VHS stuff. Independent/arthouse with similar themes also appreciated. Who's going to answer the call?
posted by fire&wings to Media & Arts (50 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mr. Majestyk is like that.
posted by Class Goat at 4:47 PM on October 19, 2008


Man on Fire
posted by war wrath of wraith at 4:52 PM on October 19, 2008


The Leo version of Man in the Iron Mask is alright. Not great, but alright. I'd say it's the ultimate revenge story.
posted by piedmont at 4:52 PM on October 19, 2008


"Falling Down" with Michael Douglas.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:52 PM on October 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mr. F is making the grunty film-geek face at the laptop. We assume you've seen all the Die Hard movies and all the Steven Seagal you can handle at this point.

Have you seen Wanted: Dead or Alive? Completely ridiculous. Rutger Hauer as the one-man army and Gene Simmons as the Ay-rab terrist bad guy, "Malak al Rahim." No, really.

(Uh-oh. Mr. F just got up and went over to the DVD cabinet.)

Have you considered John Woo's HK movies? Hard Boiled or The Killer would work, or A Better Tomorrow.

Denzel Washington in John Q fits your criteria as well. No Way Out doesn't exactly, but it is a similar take. See also David Mamet's Spartan, which is more... David Mamet... than the standard Dolph Lundgren Double Feature.

Also, the glorious cheese that is Road House. Sam Elliott's character does, in fact, come out of retirement to come to Patrick Swayze's character's aid, and Swayze's character is a legendary sort of bar-bouncer Patton, organizing the other bouncers and taking on the evil land baron's mooks and so on. If you haven't seen it, you probably need to.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:54 PM on October 19, 2008


POINT BLANK - Lee Marvin in the original adaptation of the Richard Stark "Parker" novel that was also adapted into PAYBACK with Gibson.

ROLLING THUNDER A pair of Vietnam Veterans played by William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones go after some rednecks in film written by Paul Schrader. Not available on (legit) dvd...

GET CARTER The Michael Caine/Mike Hodges original from 1972. Caine's Carter is one of cinema's best mean bastards.

THE LIMEY Steven Soderbergh directs Terrance Stamp in this great revenge film from 1999.
posted by cinemafiend at 4:59 PM on October 19, 2008


The Count Of Monte Cristo has been filmed a lot.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:01 PM on October 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Revengers Tragedy would be your "independent/arthouse with similar themes" and is pretty awesome.
posted by phoenixy at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2008


Also,if you like Jean Paul Belmondo and Ennio Morricone then you will probably enjoy LE PROFESSIONAL.


As for ladies getting revenge:

FOXY BROWN Pam Grier kicks ass and busts heads as she looks fly in the meanwhile.

THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE aka THEY CALL HER ONE EYE - Swedish nymphet Christina Lindbergh seeks revenge after she is forced into prostitution. There is a version that does not contain hardcore inserts. Either way this is very strong stuff.
posted by cinemafiend at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2008


Death Wish
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't believe no one's mentioned Kill Bill yet.

Oldboy is a strange, amazing take on this genre.
posted by mkultra at 5:27 PM on October 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Limey. A very cool, stylish revenge flick. Not as visceral or hot-blooded as others on this list, but I like this one a lot. Directed by Steven Soderberg.
posted by zardoz at 5:29 PM on October 19, 2008


Seul contre tous, by Gaspar Noé.
posted by amusem at 5:30 PM on October 19, 2008


If you haven't already, The Bourne Trilogy [1][2][3] might satisfy the type that's a little smarter of a film, with some awesome gritty fight scenes.

V for Vendetta might be another twist in a more revolutionary way than what you're looking for.

On a less twisty way, there's all the action movies Jason Statham has done, like The Transporter, Transporter 2, Crank

Then there's things like Death Wish, Kill Bill vol 1 and 2, or Carrie that might be spread across your tastes.
posted by miasma at 5:34 PM on October 19, 2008


This is the theme of a lot of 60s era westerns starring Clint Eastwood. Hang 'Em High jumps to mind.

I also enjoyed Desperado.
posted by fshgrl at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2008


"I can't believe no one's mentioned Kill Bill yet."

I was just about to do so! But then again, it's not techinally what the poster was after (he was after, and I quote "one man revenge against the world" films).

Also, let's not forget Rambo: First Blood.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:35 PM on October 19, 2008


Irreversible, if you can stomach it.
posted by mattholomew at 5:49 PM on October 19, 2008


I understand Max Payne (now playing at a theatre near you, and in the 5.99 DVD bin by spring) is just this sort of thing. ("Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a DEA agent (Wahlberg) whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy and an assassin (Kunis) out to avenge her sister's death.")

And for what it's worth the aforementioned Man On Fire is a remake of Man on Fire.

My favourite obsessed hero hellbent on revenge is the sublime To Live and Die in L.A., but that may be outside of your parameters. Maybe you're after more the kind of thing where the trailer contains the lines "one man" or "... in a world he never made."

Bonus point: the dramatic movie trailer line "... in a world he never made" stems ultimately back to an A.E. Housman poem about his closeted homosexuality ("I, a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made."). Puts a different spin on those Van Damme flicks now, dunnit?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:56 PM on October 19, 2008


The Road to Perdition is perfect.
Sin City
No Country For Old Men has elements of what you're after as well.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:58 PM on October 19, 2008


The Park Is Mine with Tommy Lee Jones. The slightly far-fetched tale of a Vietnam vet who takes over Central Park.
posted by dubold at 6:05 PM on October 19, 2008


The Boondock Saints

Not one man, but twins cleaning up a corrupt Boston with a little Irish flavor.
posted by clearly at 6:07 PM on October 19, 2008


As well, the "can't trust anyone" qualifier makes me wonder that no one has mentioned Memento yet.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:13 PM on October 19, 2008


James Bond Quantum of Solace is supposed to be like this.
posted by abdulf at 6:51 PM on October 19, 2008


Straw Dogs and Yojimbo are great. Yojimbo is the Kurosawa movie that A Fistful of Dollars was based on.
posted by ashabanapal at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2008


I Stand Alone
posted by skwm at 7:18 PM on October 19, 2008


Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
posted by wherever, whatever at 7:27 PM on October 19, 2008


Ms. 45 is a female version of what you seek, revenge victims are pretty much randomly males who are merely annoying. I think the best man-against-world movie is still High Noon, a blatant allegory of McCarthyism.
posted by Brian B. at 7:40 PM on October 19, 2008


Oldboy is part of a trilogy (unrelated stories though so no need to watch them in any order) that includes Sympathy for Lady Vengence and Sympathy for Mr Vengence. I can't recommend them highly enough. I love the revenge drama genre but these films transcend it.
posted by saucysault at 7:48 PM on October 19, 2008


The Way of the Gun has, if not the "out for revenge against the world" portion of film you seek, it certainly has two total cast-offs, who are in the predicament they end up in of their own choice, but totally unable to rely on anyone else.

Bonus points for lots and lots of violence, and one of the best opening scenes ever.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:06 PM on October 19, 2008


Walking Tall

Hombre

Chato's Land

Billy Jack

Maybe not exactly what you asked for but good movies with sort of good vs mostly evil.
posted by bjgeiger at 8:13 PM on October 19, 2008


The Exterminator (1980)

The Exterminator, Part II (1984)
posted by johngoren at 8:34 PM on October 19, 2008


I Spit on Your Grave.
posted by boy detective at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2008


L.A. Confidential should fit the bill. It put Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce on the map, and maybe Curtis Hanson too. Why has no one mentioned this film yet?

Speaking of Crowe, I assume you've already seen Gladiator, which otherwise fits nicely in your description (eg cutting his Roman soldier's tattoo out of his arm).

And speaking of L.A., Chinatown?

And, uh, Who Framed Roger Rabbit??

Also, Terminator 2?

Same goes for Army of Darkness.

Oh hell, I'll also mention The Fugitive, just because it fits so well--but you've seen it, right?

+1 to Get Carter (the original).
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:26 PM on October 19, 2008


Also maybe Aliens, minus the male part.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:37 PM on October 19, 2008


Not quite totally "trust No One" but otherwise: Mad Max.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 PM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Punisher, for sure, and probably Judge Dredd.
posted by philomathoholic at 10:43 PM on October 19, 2008


ditto The Limey.
Also, I liked I'll Sleep When I'm Dead.
posted by juv3nal at 12:30 AM on October 20, 2008


Dead Man's Shoes is a film about a brother coming home from the army to wreak revenge on the local gang who bullied his brother. Amazing.

For true Fuck-The-World nihilism, you can't beat Escape from L.A., the sequel to Escape from New York, both of which are directed by John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell. L.A. a worse film than the original in almost every sense, but the final minutes of the film show a man who's so tired of the bullshit that he's been put through that he actually-


I'm not going to tell you. Watch it. Watch New York first, actually.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 1:07 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fresh - the ultimate revenge movie, even though the protagonist is only 12. Plus, it's also very well made, the kid is an incredible actor and even Sam Jackson keeps his teeth off a large percentage of the scenery this time.
posted by Sparx at 4:03 AM on October 20, 2008


The Outift
Unforgiven
Johnny Cool.
Lucky Number Slevin
posted by mandal at 4:47 AM on October 20, 2008


The segment of Sin City with Mickey Roarke (as Marv) features a one man wrecking crew of revenge.
posted by elendil71 at 8:22 AM on October 20, 2008


Irréversible.
posted by ceri richard at 8:35 AM on October 20, 2008


Crime killed Batman's parents, so Batman is totally gonna kill crime.
posted by fidelity at 8:48 AM on October 20, 2008


Mad Max pretty much invented the genre. Dirty Harry also good. Cool Hand Luke.
posted by xammerboy at 8:49 AM on October 20, 2008


Some more recs:

The Crow
The Princess Bride
has fun with this idea. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"

-----
A dead Quaker: L.A. Confidential should fit the bill. It put Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce on the map, and maybe Curtis Hanson too. Why has no one mentioned this film yet?

Because it's not a movie about revenge, maybe?
...
And speaking of L.A., Chinatown?
And, uh, Who Framed Roger Rabbit??
...
Oh hell, I'll also mention The Fugitive, just because it fits so well--but you've seen it, right?


Uh.... what? Revenge flicks? Those?
posted by mkultra at 9:01 AM on October 20, 2008


mkultra, watch LA Confidential again. it's totally about revenge. Who was Rollo Tomasi, after all? And Bud White vows revenge against Exley after Exley's testimony puts his partner in jail.
posted by luriete at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2008


A bunch of people have mentioned this already, but The Limey is just unbelievably key.

And one person mentioned Unforgiven, too, which is totally excellent -- it sets itself up to have the same exact structure that the standard revenge-movie has (In your words: He's probably bitter, retired or an alcoholic. He can't trust anyone. He might come out of retirement for one more job. The enemy may be an Arab, a Serbian or good ole faceless government corruption. Hero must be able to pull bullets out of self with tweezers, grit teeth, sweat, and appear flawed but irresistable to women much younger than themselves.), but spends the whole movie struggling with that structure, reflecting on its self-defeating nature, attempting to reconcile the urge for vengeance with the urge for morality.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:06 PM on October 20, 2008


luriete: watch LA Confidential again

Read the post again. LA Confidential isn't about Russell Crowe (or Guy Pierce, for that matter) getting revenge for some Great Wrong. You (and a lot of other respondents, frankly) are confusing specific plot points/minor themes for "what the movie is about."
posted by mkultra at 1:14 PM on October 20, 2008


I didn't think those were minor plot points, actually. I thought they were the primary motivations for the main characters and the only reason they do the foolhardy things they do.
posted by luriete at 4:03 PM on October 20, 2008


Nthing Dead Man's Shoes. Also, I don't think a revenge film is complete without mentioning Léon (aka The Professional). Revenge is a key element but isn't the whole movie.
posted by AdamOddo at 4:42 PM on October 20, 2008


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