When I sat down to make this list (in honor of Gina Carano’s upcoming, ass-kicking turn in Haywire), it quickly occurred to me how loosely “revenge” can be construed as an elemental part of a movie. So essentially, I was faced with a mountain of possibilities on which films to include. In the end, the most viscerally satisfying ones of all won out and made the list.
Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the Klingon proverb.
Commando: Hands down, this is my very favorite movie on the list. Why? Because Arnold executes an entire army without reloading, that’s bloody why.
Death Wish: Damn, Charles Bronson was the master executioner of vigilante vengeance.
Gladiator: This film was perhaps the height of Russell Crowe’s baddassery, and deservedly so.
Hard Candy: Remember what Ellen Page does to that guy’s wang? Yeah.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2: Yes, Vol. 1 contained a lot more bloodshed Vol. 2 as far as bloodletting goes, but killing the Crazy 88 in its entirety barely compared to what The Bride (Uma Thurman) did to Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah).
Leon: The Professional: Featuring Gary Oldman in a great villainous role that may very well have inspired Heath Ledger’s turn as The Joker.
Lucky Number Slevin: Yeah, I know Josh Hartnett is kind of a douche, but this is a very underrated movie with impressive turns by both duct tape and Bruce Willis.
Man on Fire: Denzel Washington, with inspiration from a teddy bear, kills all of the things. The Reznor involvement doesn’t hurt either.
Once Upon a Time in the West: Charles Bronson was straight-up vengeance (his specialty as an actor) in this Sergio Leone classic that contained a simple plot but plenty of intrigue.
Payback: Before we all knew that Mel Gibson was a crazed lunatic in real life, he made one hell of an enjoyable crazed lunatic in this movie that successfully combines film noir and comedic elements.
Sleepers: Justice and atonement in Hell’s Kitchen with a side of Kevin Bacon.
The Crow: This is one of my top movies of all time, and Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) simply kills at killing to a great soundtrack. Please don’t let that remake ever happen.
Unforgiven: A thought-provoking film that just happens to be a revisionist western with very untraditional heroes? Yes please.
And a little unexpected bonus number for you…
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Because this one is obligatory, right?
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.