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Comparing the 10 Most Successful Revenge Movies of All Time to the 10 BEST Revenge Films

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | October 7, 2012 | Comments ()


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Over the weekend, Taken 2 took the box-office crown with $50 million, one of the highest grossing October weekends of all time. It was also one of the more inexcusably awful movies in recent memory, and it makes very little sense given the time they had to work on a sequel, the talent involved, and the money at stake. It's not as though the original Taken was particularly high-brow, but Neeson and Luc Besson had an opportunity to turn it into a legitimately decent franchise had they bothered to improve on the original instead of replicating it, dumbing it down, and packing it full of thin characters and implausible situations. Neeson is better than this.

It won't stop Taken 2 from entering the top ten among the highest-grossing revenge films of all time, however, although it's not likely to have the kind of legs that would make it a shoo-in for a trilogy. I suspect it'll end up with around $110 million, around $35 million less than the first one, which is itself the third most successful revenge film of all time.

Given the popularity of revenge themes, how satisfying a good revenge flick can be, and the opportunities for enjoyable violence, I suspected there'd be more $100 million revenge films on this list, but I suppose the American public is not as compelled by those themes as some of us (nor the violence).

Here are the 10 most successful revenge films at the box office, using only films categorized as "revenge" by Box Office Mojo.

10. Braveheart -- $75 million

9. Man on Fire -- $77 million

8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- $78 million

7. Payback -- $81 million

6. Mystic River -- $90 million

5. The Italian Job -- $106 million

4. Taken 2 -- $120 million (est.)

3. Taken -- $145 million

2. Quantum of Solace -- $168 million

1. Gladiator -- $187 million

Again, using only the films listed as "revenge" films by Box Office Mojo, here's my unofficial ranking of the ten best revenge films of all time and their box-office grosses in North America.

1. Oldboy -- $707,000

2. Kill Bill 1/2 -- $70 million/$66 million

3. The Crow -- $50 million

4. Braveheart -- $75 million

5. V for Vendetta -- $70 million

6. Desperado -- $25 million

7. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- $78 million

8. Gladiator -- $187 million

9. Commando -- $35 million

10. Hanna -- $40 million

----

Meanwhile, last week's top movie, Hotel Transylvania, dipped just 38 percent to $26 million and landing in second place, bringing its total to over $75 million after 10 days. The success of Hotel Transylvania is also part of the reason why Tim Burton's well-reviewed Frankenweenie failed to make much a dent in the box office, as the stop-motion film only mustered $11.5 million at the box office, guaranteeing that it will be another unsuccessful Tim Burton outing following last summer's Dark Shadows.

The good news, however, is that Pitch Perfect -- which expanded nationally this weekend -- landed in third place with a solid $14 million, bringing its total to $21 million, and ensuring it will likely end its run around $50 million. Pretty great for an a capella competition film with no bona fide Hollywood stars (I caught it this weekend, myself, and agree with Joanna's review: It's outstanding, and awesomely fun).

Looper put up another $12 million in its second weekend, and it looks headed toward $75 million, a solid gross for a complex sci-fi time travel film with a $30 million budget.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • evil homer

    Why no dead man's shoes?, that is a desperate oversight, it makes my top ten revenge flicks easily

  • iamjames

    How is 13 Assassins not on your top 10 best revenge movies?

  • googergieger

    Miike's Harakari is more revenge than that movie.

  • Idle Primate

    I vote The Sting for best revenge flic of all time

  • Idle Primate

    i dont really understand what mojo means by revenge, looking at some of the titles. Braveheart? yup he showed them by being publicly castrated and disembowelled. Commando? wasn't that a rescue mission to get the daughter back? mystic river? italian job?

  • Alyson McManus

    I am sorry but Oldboy is a terrible movie.

  • Cdil

    Thank you! Why is it so popular? And mostly among men. Considering its twist (which is not in the original manga) this is disturbing. As for its themes, fight sequences e.t.c. nothing too special or original for 2003.

  • Paisley Poppins

    The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

  • ,

    "Looper" got my money this weekend. First time I've been teased out to the theater in months, and something happened that I'd like to ask the rest of you if this is a "thing":

    I went to a theater in a mall, had something to eat in the food court beforehand right up to the posted starting time of the movie, 1:15. I figured I could go straight to the ticket counter and be in the theater by 1:17 and miss a couple commercials. But there was no one at the ticket counter. There was a sign directing ticket-buyers to the concession stands. I looked at the four concession stand lines and each was 8-10 people deep. OK, I'll pick one and the line will move fairly fast, I'm sure. I am hopelessly naive. Everyone in the line needed to buy something else (sometimes two or three somethings -- nobody gets popcorn without a drink), and after 10 minutes when I finally got to the front of my line, the guy there held up some $20s, said, "I need to get change," and disappeared through a door. I waited about a minute (it's now 1:27) and then remembered the other theaters three miles down the road had "Looper" at 1:45. "Fuck this," I said, and went there instead, where the ticket-seller in the ticket booth greeted me with a smile and I was inside in 30 seconds.

    Now I understand why a theater chain might do this (fuck you anyway, Carmike). You're already in a concession line to get a ticket, you might say, "I wasn't going to eat anything, but what the hell, give me some Snowcaps," and the theater makes a sale it might not have otherwise.

    But what a fucking annoyance to spend 3-4 minutes waiting for one of the pack of teen girls in front of me to get her ticket, popcorn, bottled water, box of candy ... It seemed like fucking forever.

    If this is a trend, it's one more reason I believe the movie theater will be dead in my lifetime.

    I did rather enjoy "Looper."

  • Idle Primate

    sometimes during the day, slow time, rather than pay an extra cashier, they just sell tickets at concession--though usually there wouldnt be a crowd. its not to sell candy--or they would do it all the time; its simply cost savings during the day, and better than some theatres that have just stopped showing matinees altogether

    of course waiting to the very last possible minute to go buy a ticket is just tempting fate. when i get to a theatre i buy my ticket and then go pass the time

  • chanohack

    Is Memento not a revenge movie?

  • TheDeadBurger

    In a way, no. It's more of a serial killer flick with a revenge backstory. Leonard killed the original John G. years before the movie begins (or ends, I suppose).

  • letsspoon

    THANK YOU.

  • BWeaves

    I spit on your grave.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I guess Rob Roy doesn't count because he didn't know his wife was raped? Because Tim Roth getting sliced in half is pretty effin amazing. As is Liam Neeson in a kilt.

  • Idle Primate

    while revenge isnt the theme of the whole film, the way a charles bronson film is, Rob Roy is the first thing popped in my head at the idea of revenge

  • idiosynchronic

    Butter has an revenge subplot. :-)

    Seriously, go watch it. I'd compare it very favorably with Waitress - the plot may be predictable, but the cast and dialogue are tight and fun.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ok, but you are confusing me on a Monday morning by reversing the list on your picks. I was really surprised for a moment that you thought Hanna was the best ever revenge flick. I don't really think it's a best anything flick (it's a perfectly fine B- movie)

  • Carlito

    He listed Hanna as tenth. Oldboy was his number one. The orders were reversed between the two lists if the numbering is to be believed.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Your reading comprehension isn't so great on a Monday, either, I guess - since the point of my comment was that I noticed he reversed the order, and only briefly though Hanna was #1.

  • It

    Where is Almodovar's "The Skin I Inhabit"?

  • Garferty

    The Crow is a terrible film. Like The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, the film's morbid infamy is the only thing really going for it - and is also one of its major problems. (Many of Brandon's character-developing scenes were lost, leading to those lame mask-wearing flashbacks.)

  • opiejuankenopie

    You are wrong.

  • TheOtherOne

    No Garferty is dead on. The fact that Brandon Lee died while filming that piece of garbage only makes it worse.

  • Stillnadine

    Iglorious Basterds?

  • I fucking loved Hanna. An ethereal fairy tale featuring a kick-ass Saoirse Ronan - what's not to love? Also Eric Bana in Beard & Snow.

  • Valerie

    I don't totally "get" why Hanna is a revenge flik though.

  • Sirilicious

    Hanna was brought up a soldier with the only goal to kill her mothers murdress.

  • celery

    I Saw The Devil. You must not have seen it if you didn't put it on the list, which is weird because I always feel like Pajiba generally knows about awesome Korean movies. That taxi scene is one of the craziest things I've ever seen. I started off horrified and then laughed so hard and then wanted to puke but kept laughing.

  • pajiba

    "using only the films listed as “revenge” films by Box Office Mojo."

  • almond

    Hanna? Really? That movie had so much potential and it was such a mess that I came away from it disappointed and slightly nauseous.

  • Renton

    Braveheart, really?
    Gibson's accent is awful, and they couldn't even be bothered to film the main parts in Scotland. (Ireland was cheaper.)
    My Scottish beard rankles at it's inclusion!

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Not to speak of the gorram awful movie.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    Kickboxer.

  • Aaron Schulz

    ha the crow being best anything, well ill give it damn good soundtrack

  • Orleanas

    I don't care what critics and others say, Taken 2 offered me what I expected: mindless, kickass action with sexy mothereffin' Zeus, Liam Neeson. Anyone going to see this film with high expectations most likely did not see the first film, for nothing led me to believe that Taken 2 was warranted. For all the Pajiban putdowns, Taken 2 kept me more engaged than Looper, which I had looked forward to seeing and was somewhat diappointed by.

  • Strand

    Taken 2 was a deep-fried dog turd next to the original. This is from someone who saw the first movie on opening night with no prior hype or reviews and thought it was one of the most pleasant surprises in recent memory.

    The sequel played everything straight instead of embracing the tonal mess of the first movie. There were no moments of levity but there were more than a few clunkers. Where was the creativity of the first movie? (French guy hit by bus, electrocution, shooting the wife) and the choreography was awful eg. Liam Neeson vs the fat Albanian guy at the end was just slow and uninspired. Cut 20 minutes from the Maggie Grace character, put in my randomised murder and it would have been a decent movie.

  • Blake

    Who makes up these lists? Where is Once Upon a Time in the West? For a Few Dollars More? Unforgiven? Or The Bride Wore Black? All are classic revenge films.
    Of the 52 films listed only Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Kill Bill 1 & 2 would make it on my list. HM to Man on Fire (check out The Man from Nowhere).

  • Idle Primate

    nice additions

  • Slash

    I agree with the first part.

    I actually liked "Payback." It's one of Mel's most enjoyable films.

  • Utopian

    Don't forget The Chaser, googer. But yeah, any one of those are better than Desperado. I imagine it is not on the list.

  • googergieger

    Would you consider that revenge or more straight up thriller? I mean I guess the way he carries after the killer and such but I don't know. I wouldn't consider Memories of Murder a revenge flick and that follows the same beats more or less. Have you seen The Yellow Sea? Same dude that did The Chaser. A bit more revenge oriented and one of the bloodiest flicks I've ever seen period. Though granted a bit long.

  • Natallica

    Take out "Commando" and put "Inglourious basterds" in, and we're fine

  • Idle Primate

    are either revenge films? basterds is war satire, isn't it?

  • Natallica

    What Shosanna Dreyfus wanted to get against Hans Landa looked like revenge to me.

  • Idle Primate

    ah yes.

  • googergieger

    Oldboy, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Bittersweet Life, Lady Vengeance, I Saw The Devil. Koreans know how to do revenge right. Hell movies in general right. I even love their crappy soap operas.

    Anywhoots, good on you for ranking Oldboy number one D-Ro. Nothing is even remotely close to that movie. Though Mr. Vengeance gives you a much more emotional punch than it probably. Oldboy is still the most powerful, though.

  • What I would give to be able to go back in time and watch Oldboy for the first time again. Anyone reading this who is subsequently going to go watch it for the first time is someone of whom I am deeply envious.

    and i'll 2nd all of your Korean revenge flick suggestions

  • I've been saving up my Korean revenge flicks for a really bad day.

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