Best revenge movies (or stories)
November 4, 2018 2:29 PM   Subscribe

That’s what I’m looking for. I’ve already got Kill Bill (meh) and Old Boy (fuckin’ good) on the list. Special double bonus points if the characters have some depth, or if it’s a lady (or ladies) getting that revenge, especially if it is extended, deliberate revenge campaign. I’m in a mood. Get at me, vengeful MeFites!
posted by schadenfrau to Media & Arts (79 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
9 to 5!
posted by lunasol at 2:36 PM on November 4, 2018 [20 favorites]

John Wick, Django Unchained, Mad Max: Fury Road (phenomenal), The Prestige (revenge with a twist: they are both avenging themselves on each other), Carrie (one... very significant... moment of revenge), The Princess Bride, Memento, Munich.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Shooting, Lady Vengeance, and maybe Léon the Professional. Oh, and Harakiri.
posted by kickingtheground at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2018

Not a lady lead - but The Count of Monte Cristo. Revenge at its finest.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

True Grit!
posted by mochapickle at 2:46 PM on November 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

Blue Ruin
posted by bluecore at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you like Old Boy, watching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance might be good. Neither is an easy watch, but they both have things to say about revenge movies. If you can find the miniseries of Lives and Loves of a She Devil, that’s worth a watch. Fingersmith is all about ladies, and, while it’s not about revenge exactly, there is revenge in it....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Limey
Witness for the Prosecution
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Harakiri for sure--last I checked, it was tied with Seven Samurai as the top-rated Criterion film at IMDb. Under the heading "(or stories)" I also enjoyed Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie.
posted by Wobbuffet at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2018

True Grit!

Seconded, particularly as a book rec! Really delightful narration.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:02 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

First Wives Club?
posted by BoscosMom at 3:06 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Since you mention stories, it would be remiss not to note "The Cask of Amontillado."

Wolf Hall, both book and mini-series, involve an extended, multi-year revenge plot, though they're about a lot more than that. (I think the mini-series actually features it more prominently.)

Unforgiven, of course.
posted by praemunire at 3:08 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

The recent and very amazing Mandy.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 3:10 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by FencingGal at 3:10 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Real Genius
posted by ugf at 3:18 PM on November 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

Teen movie: John Carter Must Die

posted by hepta at 3:20 PM on November 4, 2018

Chirin's Bell is a Japanese children's book about a lamb who seeks to avenge his mother, who was killed by a wolf. But since he's not strong enough to do that yet, he asks the very same wolf to take him in as an apprentice and teach him how to become a wolf. A translation of the book is here, and it was also adapted into an excellent 45-minute-long animated film.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:23 PM on November 4, 2018

"John Wick" (they really shouldn't have killed his dog!) and "Dead Pool" (they really shouldn't have kidnapped his girlfriend) came right to mind. I realize flibbertigibbet already recommended "John Wick" so my rec is just a 2nd.

I am surprised nobody mentioned "Salt" (talk about a strong lady getting revenge). And Sarah Connor gets really annoyed in "Terminator 2".

"The Equalizer" is all about revenge.

You also asked for revenge stories. There is the 3rd episode of the 3rd season of Star Trek Next Generation "The Survivors" where a very powerful being was not happy with how his wife was treated.
posted by forthright at 3:29 PM on November 4, 2018

The Last Seduction has a female lead and a gleeful revenge.
posted by lasagnaboy at 3:44 PM on November 4, 2018 [6 favorites]

Titus Andronicus
Oresteia (Agamemnon)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:50 PM on November 4, 2018

In Damage the woman is not the revenger or the revengee but it's still a powerful movie.

It's been awhile since I've seen it but I believe Blood Simple is a revenge movie.
posted by bendy at 3:53 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I Spit On Your Grave
posted by Grandysaur at 4:02 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by fritillary at 4:08 PM on November 4, 2018

Ms. 45
posted by rhizome at 4:13 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thelma and Louise.
posted by chocolatetiara at 4:24 PM on November 4, 2018

Double Jeopardy
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2018

Maybe Revenge?
posted by matcha action at 4:32 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

The novel Fingersmith, mentioned above, was the basis of Chan-wook Park's (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) film The Handmaiden. Beautifully shot and definitely about women getting revenge. A bit difficult to watch in some scenes because of violence, so be warned.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ocean's 8. I had to watch it twice to catch everything. Worth it.
posted by yoga at 4:41 PM on November 4, 2018

Or, if you're into tv series, maybe Revenge. (Unrelated to the movie of the same name matcha action linked to.)

It lost coherency in subsequent seasons, but I rather enjoyed the first.
posted by Pryde at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2018

I'd forgotten it even existed until I thought about this but She-Devil.
posted by dilettante at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Gone Girl.
posted by orange swan at 5:13 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Inglorious bastards has a lady get revenge.
posted by Coffeetyme at 5:18 PM on November 4, 2018

Haywire. And it's badass: "A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission."
posted by unknowncommand at 5:38 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Buried Alive, an early work by Frank Darabont, has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.

It appears that there is no legitimate way to get it in the US.
posted by Hatashran at 5:38 PM on November 4, 2018

7 Khoon Maaf, where a woman gets revenge on all of her varyingly abusive husbands. Lots of fun!
posted by gaybobbie at 5:44 PM on November 4, 2018

Hard Candy - easily my favorite film in this genre. Still gives me chills just thinking about it.

If you want something serialized, the TV show Damages is pretty great and very under-appreciated.
posted by jacobian at 5:54 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I Saw the Devil
posted by anansi at 6:02 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by McCoy Pauley at 6:06 PM on November 4, 2018

”The Girl Most Likely To” was a made-for-TV movie from 1973 that starred Stockard Channing (and Ed Asner). It's about a unnatractive college student who's humiliated by a series of men, gets into a terrible accident, awakens from a coma to find that the reconstructive surgery has turned her into a bombshell...then exacts revenge. It looks like it's available on a popular video hosting site. It's not very violent, so maybe won’t scratch your itch.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:14 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lady Snowblood - inspiration for Kill Bill, with female lead.
posted by sizeable beetle at 6:14 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dead Man’s Shoes
posted by holborne at 6:28 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's a list I found while looking for the exact title of the Farah Fawcett movie "The Burning Bed." female revenge movies. Some have already been mentioned here but there's some new ones, too.
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:08 PM on November 4, 2018

there's some new ones, too

Oh yeah. People dismiss it as trashy, but I really like "Enough," and have since I saw it in the theater. For me it pushes all the right buttons.

How about The Celebration?
posted by rhizome at 7:27 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Sting should fit the bill, depending on whether you think a con job is sufficient revenge.

Sleepers - great cast, TW for abuse.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Steve Martin and Michael Caine try to one up each other in scamming an "heiress," who gets the upper hand.

Trading Places - Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Lee Curtis in an early 80s comedy, two millionaire brothers turn Aykroyd's life upside down for a bet, making Murphy unexpectedly rich. Murphy, Aykroyd, and Curtis team up to get revenge.
posted by jzb at 7:32 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Can't believe I forgot The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
posted by kickingtheground at 7:33 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pulp fiction !
posted by pintapicasso at 7:53 PM on November 4, 2018

No-one has yet mentioned The Bride Wore Black?
posted by crush at 8:04 PM on November 4, 2018

Thriller: a cruel picture(1973) A young girl seeks revenge against people who forced her into child prostitution. Very violent.
posted by permiechickie at 8:18 PM on November 4, 2018

Payback is the original John Wick. It's pretty good, better than John Wick really.

Sleeping with the Enemy is good and creepy with a satisfying payoff.

Revenge, the French movie, is kind of harrowing but it does what it says on the tin. And with style.

Jennifer's Body is a pretty good movie that was unfairly maligned, imho.
posted by fshgrl at 8:25 PM on November 4, 2018

Memento, for sure. Great movie.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:30 PM on November 4, 2018

It's not the best movie out there, but it definitely fits your bill: The Other Woman.
posted by sardonyx at 8:30 PM on November 4, 2018

The Book of Essie.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:47 PM on November 4, 2018

Since Payback came up, it's one of two film adaptations of Donald E. Westlake's (writing as Richard Stark) The Hunter, the first novel in the Parker series. The first was Point Blank in 1967, and the novel itself (as well as its numerous sequels) is well worth a read. Parker's elaborate, multi-stage revenge on those who wronged him is a thread that runs through the first 5 or 6 books in the series.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 9:47 PM on November 4, 2018

(this is the best thread, I had no idea we were all so blood thirsty)
posted by schadenfrau at 10:17 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

There was a short-lived TV show called Vengeance Unlimited, in which Michael Madsen ran a business in which he would get revenge for people. The price was always the same: $1 Million or a favor. Most people naturally paid with the favor, so he always had a willing army of former clients who would help him out just to get his scary self out of their lives for good. There are some episodes on Youtube. It's dated, but it works well enough. It's 1990s prime-time TV, so it's not bloody revenge, just a lot of comeuppance for corrupt bastards.

Alfred Bester's book, "The Stars, My Destination" is a terrific New Wave (1950s) science fiction revenge story, partly modeled on "The Count of Monte Cristo," with rockets, human teleportation, cargo cults in space, and a rhyme that'll stick in your head for the rest of your life. It's known in the UK as "Tiger! Tiger!" for reasons that are IMO odd but make a kind of sense from an element of the story. It's quite an adventure.

"Get Carter." I was not blown away by the remake, but the original Michael Caine movie is pretty good.

The newest "Death Wish" is glib fun, but the original is nicely edgy (spot Jeff Goldblum as one of the punk thugs).

The original "Mad Max" is a pure revenge/vigilante movie. "The Rover," is a 2014 movie in the same mold: Australian revenge-on-the-road movie set at the twilight of our civilization.

Seconding the recent movie "Revenge." The whole movie is medically unsound, including in the sheer amount of blood onscreen (the production once had to stop for the day because they ran out of fake blood), but who cares, it's a great ride.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:31 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I lay there on the fourth day plotting his death. Compiling assets in a list in my mind, I found relief in the planning...a loose floor board, a red knit blanket, a high window, exposed beams, a keyhole, my condition...

I remember my thoughts then as though I am reliving them now, as though they are my present thoughts. There he is outside the door again, I think, even though it’s been seventeen years. Perhaps those days will forever be my present because I survived so completely in the minutiae of each hour and each second of painstaking strategy. During that indelible time of torment, I was all on my own. And, I must say now, with no lack of pride, my result, my undeniable victory, was no less than a masterpiece.

I loved Method 15/33 as a revenge novel because I knew from the second paragraph that our "helpless" 16-year-old, abducted, pregnant victim is going to overcome, not just satisfactorily, but magnificently. Unlike most revenge tales that painfully linger on the suffering and trauma of the victim for like four-fifths of the narrative just to get to the tiny good bit where revenge happens, this book is one of my much preferred "you don't know who you're messing with" stories that allowed me to relax and savor the revenge plotting and "competency porn" (as the kids these days are calling it :P) of our unusual heroine.
posted by taz at 2:28 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Revenant
posted by seebee at 4:36 AM on November 5, 2018

A Company Man is one of my favorite revenge movies. Very prettily shot and so, so bloody.
posted by snaw at 5:19 AM on November 5, 2018

A Shock to the System

A middle aged ad executive (Michael Caine) is passed over for a promotion he was certain was his. Michael then murders those responsible in ways that look like accidents. A black comedy, with large helpings of drama and suspense.
posted by Homer42 at 6:41 AM on November 5, 2018

In Order of Disappearance

Nils son is murdered by a street level drug dealer. The cops won't investigate. Nils works his way up the organization to take revenge on the top man. Enough violent deaths to please a Tarentino fan, tempered by what one reviewer called "a sharp sense of pitch-black Scandinavian humour".
posted by Homer42 at 6:51 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Now that I know about A Shock to the System, thanks to Homer42, I need to watch it -- but it also just reminded me of one of the classics, Kind Hearts and Coronets, which is thematically similar: the scion of a noble family which ostracized his mother after she married below her station, takes his revenge by murdering all of the relatives who stand between him and the dukedom. It is most notable for the fact that the hero's victims are played by Sir Alec Guinness. All eight of them. But it's also a great movie.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:00 AM on November 5, 2018

Hard Candy (2005)
posted by zengargoyle at 7:28 AM on November 5, 2018

If you loved Old Boy, you need to stop everything you're doing and watch

I Saw the Devil
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2018

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
posted by zoetrope at 7:56 AM on November 5, 2018

A Shock to the System is my favorite Michael Caine movie! Definitely seconding that recommendation!

He was your superior, wasn't he? No, he was my boss.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:16 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought Peppermint was fine, and apparently only the audience agrees with me.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 10:25 AM on November 5, 2018

I was trying and failing to think of Peppermint with my earlier comment. I saw it and I thought it was a decent if by-the-numbers genre movie, with a couple of good action setpieces. Jennifer Garner's not had a lot of action roles since Elektra and The Kingdom, but she still knows how it's done, and how to do it well. It's satisfactory, but undistinguished. It will only disappoint you if you expect a classic.

A cursory read of the top 4 reviews (that is, top-rated reviewers-- all four panned this movie) indicates that their biggest beef is with the racial optics of a white suburban (for an LA value of suburbs) housewife turned vigilante against Mexican gangsters who murdered her family, followed by a general beef with the tropes of vigilante/action movies in which people heal bullet wounds with self-surgery, and the like.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2018

Does Friday the 13th count as a revenge movie? They shouldn't have let her son drown...
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:32 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ruthless People! For a funny double revenge movie, this one is great.
posted by annieb at 3:17 PM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Manon of the Spring scores high in all categories! (stands on its own, but ideally viewed in tandem with the preceding Jean de Florette)
posted by veery at 3:42 PM on November 5, 2018

The Dressmaker! Woman returns to the rural, backwards Australian town of her childhood; unravels a bunch of secrets and then exacts revenge all while wearing extremely glamorous clothing.
posted by quercus23 at 9:56 PM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

52 Pick-up, very good Frankenheimer blackmail/revenge thriller. With Roy Scheider; John Glover plays a great, creepy villain.

The Long Kiss Goodnight could qualify as a revenge flick. Geena Davis plays a suburban homemaker with the world's worst case of amnesia; she gradually starts to remember her past as an elite assassin when former colleagues come back to settle some scores. Needless to say, tables are turned, much havoc ensues. Also stars Samuel Jackson. A great Renny Harlin/Shane Black joint.

+1 on Payback
posted by Bron at 8:52 AM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

And yet another one I'd forgotten about (book this time): The Traitor Baru Cormorant
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:43 PM on November 6, 2018

Wild Tales
posted by stevanl at 4:33 AM on November 7, 2018

Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price and Diana Rigg! Theatrical critics deny his character a schmancy award, and obviously they must pay, and pay, and pay....
posted by pepper bird at 9:56 AM on November 8, 2018

Not a full length movie, but BBHMM is quite satisfying nonetheless.
posted by dizziest at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2018

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