23 Awesome Revenge Flicks

Oldboy (2003)

The Crime: A forgotten memory is pivotal in the motivations behind the capture and torture of Oh Dae-Su, an alcoholic Korean family man. When he was a teen, Dae-su witnessed fellow student Woo-jin having sexual relations with his sister. His discovery soon becomes a rampant, tragedy-baiting school rumour.

The Revenge: Essentially, Woo-jin locks Dae-su in a hotel room for 15 years, then programmes him so that when he meets a young woman who is in fact his grown-up daughter, he falls head over heels in love with her. Ick.

The Awesome: Oh Dae-Su turns out to be anything but a weak old man by the time he escapes imprisonment, handing out smackdowns like they’re buy one get one free. Then there’s that amazingly twisted punishment. Shudder.

Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2 (2003)

The Crime: After turning tail on her assassin comrades, The Bride attempts to lead a normal life. Sadly, what should have been the happiest day of her life – her wedding – turns into a blood bath when former boss Bill learns of it and sends his posse to dispatch the traitor and her beau.

The Revenge: Having awoken from a coma, The Bride decides to exact her revenge by taking out every one of her ex-colleagues on the way to killing Bill. In as bloody a fashion as possible.

The Awesome:
An anti-heroine for our times, the sheer joyful pizazz with which The Bride carries out her dirty work is jaw-dropping - from intimate kitchen confrontations all the way to facing the Kato-mask-wearing Crazy 88s. And winning.

Death Wish (1974)

The Crime: New York architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) finds himself tipped into a war on crime when his wife is killed and his daughter raped by street vagrants.

The Revenge: Taking to the streets, Kersey soon revels in his vigilante actions as he takes on the criminals and makes them pay.

The Awesome: Charles Bronson’s defining moment is his greatest, as he plays a mild-mannered chap turned killing machine. Effortlessly iconic.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

The Crime: A gas station manager and his two unemployed buddies take a fancy to writer Jennifer Hills, who has rented a nearby cottage in the countryside in order to write her first novel. But instead of wining and dining her, they repeatedly rape her both in the woods and then in her vacation home, leaving her for dead.

The Revenge: Surviving, Jennifer makes it her mission to kill each of the men who violated her, seducing and tricking her way through the lot of them until they're nothing more than sticky messes - and not the good kind.

The Awesome: The film’s original title, Day Of The Woman , is fitting. Proving that a woman can possess just as much of a steel nerve as any man, Jennifer’s bloody vengeance is a morality-warping gender role-reversal that is shamelessly exploitative for entertainment's sake.

Cape Fear (1962)

The Crime: Rape again. Except rapist Max Cady has served his time, having spent eight years behind bars. As soon as he’s released, though, he finds lawyer Sam Bowden – who he holds responsible for his conviction – and threatens his family.

The Revenge: When Bowden and his family take a trip to their houseboat in Cape Fear (would you really go somewhere with a name like that knowing a psycho's after you?), Sam expects Cady will follow them and alerts the authorities. Unfortunately, Cady slips through their nets and holds the Bowdens hostage on their boat.

The Awesome: A cat and mouse battle of wits, Bowden and Cady’s final confrontation on the riverbank crackles with emotion.

Scream (1996)

The Crime: For Sidney Prescott, it's not so much that she committed a crime as the fact that she's related to the wrong person. Her mother Maureen Prescott was a bit of a harlot in her time, having an affair with Billy Myers’ father and causing the breakdown of his marriage.

The Revenge: Billy kills Maureen, and frames Cotton Weary for the murder. Then, a year later, the seriously psycho teen goes on a murderous spree, targeting Woodsboro teens and offing them if they can’t answer his movie trivia.

The Awesome:
Billy’s motive is only partially logical. His murdering of Maureen makes sense, but the killing spree a year later smacks of an individual gone barmy (perhaps because he has too many horror pop culture references buzzing around his brain). “We all go a little mad sometimes…”

Desperado (1995)

The Crime: El Mariachi used to dream of becoming a travelling musician. When he gets mixed up in a revenge plot masterminded by Mexican criminals, he falls in love with bargirl Dominó, who gets killed in the crossfire. Now, having avenged her death, Mariachi's after a man named Bucho who killed his family…

The Revenge: Bent on revenge, Mariachi tracks Buchi to a small town and proceeds to rip it apart in order to root out the drug runner.

The Awesome: El Mariachi is just about the coolest Mexican we’ve ever seen. His reputation precedes him (‘The Man In Black’), while even his armoury has style – those sleeve-guns are the mutt's nuts.

GoodFellas (1990)

The Crime: Though Martin Scorsese’s epic isn’t about one revenge plot in particular, it’s a multi-stranded peek at the mob in which vengeance for wrongdoing is always on the cards. Take the bit where hot-headed Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) kills Billy Batts for bringing up his past as a shoeshine kid.

The Revenge: A whole eight years later, Tommy finally gets his comeuppance. Tricked into thinking he’s going to be ‘made’, he’s shot in the head and killed.

The Awesome: Vengeance always pays up. Even though nearly a decade has gone by, Tommy still has his past catch up with him. What a film.

Taken (2008)

The Crime: Retired CIA Agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is hoping to spend most of his free time with daughter Kim. But his plans are scuppered when Kim takes a trip to Paris, and is kidnapped.

The Revenge: “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you,” swears Bryan, heading to Paris and using his CIA skills to track down those responsible.

The Awesome: He may be a pre- A-Team Liam Neeson best known as the ‘mourning one’ from Love Actually , but that all works to the Brit’s advantage as he shatters preconceptions. Death by electric shock? Unforgettable.

V For Vendetta (2005)

The Crime: Fascist dictatorship Norsefire have taken over Britain and rule with an iron fist. Exerting their totalitarian power, they off people by the truckload in concentration camps and will stop at nothing in enforcing their rule.

The Revenge: Revolutionary V opposes the government, and sets about attempting to raze their regime to the ground. Despite giving his life, he successfully manages to blow up Parliament.

The Awesome: Sole survivor of an experiment that saw four dozen prisoners given injections of a compound known as Batch 5, V developed advanced strength, endurance and ability to withstand pain. Now that’s a superhero.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.