There is no denying that revenge movies have a certain appeal. From the satisfaction of seeing justice served to the thrill of watching the protagonist overcome all odds, revenge movies are a unique genre that captivates audiences worldwide. In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about these movies, including their key elements and some of the best revenge movies ever made.
Is revenge a genre?
We have divided them into categories such as classic revenge movies, action-packed flicks, psychological thrillers, hidden gems, and foreign films. So whether you’re in the mood for an epic historical drama or a fast-paced action movie, there’s something here for everyone.
Best Revenge Movies: Classics
Point Blank (1967)
In Point Blank (1967), Lee Marvin plays the protagonist seeking retribution against his former partner in crime, using innovative flashbacks and nonlinear storytelling to keep audiences engaged. This classic revenge film sets itself apart with its intense action sequences and gripping plot, making it a fan favorite among those who enjoy the genre of best revenge movies. With its raw brutality and a strong performance by Marvin, Point Blank is a must-watch for any lover of classic revenge movies or thrilling cinema.
In the classic best revenge movies list, another one is Carrie. Sissy Spacek plays Carrie White, a young woman who experiences abuse from her religious mother and bullying at school, in the Brian De Palma-directed film that is based on Stephen King’s book. She eventually unleashes her telekinetic powers in an act of vengeance after being humiliated at prom. This timeless tale serves as a cultural touchstone for its portrayal of bullying, abuse, and the dangers of suppressing one’s emotions.
Death Wish (1974)
Death Wish (1974) follows the story of Paul Kersey, a New York architect who takes justice into his own hands after his wife is killed and his daughter is assaulted. The movie was initially controversial due to its portrayal of brutality and vengeance, but it eventually became a cult favorite among the best revenge movies. With Charles Bronson as the protagonist and intense action scenes in 1970s New York City, Death Wish is an adrenaline-pumping revenge film for fans of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill or John Wick with Keanu Reeves.
Rolling Thunder (1977)
Rolling Thunder (1977) is an intense and gritty film that stands out as one of the best revenge movies of all time. Following the brutal attack on his family and himself by a gang of thugs back home in Texas after returning from the war in Vietnam, Major Charles Rane (William Devane) takes matters into his own hands. Rolling Thunder boasts some of the most brutal scenes ever committed to celluloid while also offering a powerful meditation on violence and survival. Anyone who enjoys unrelenting brutality and gripping storytelling must watch this 1970s cult classic.
The Sting (1973)
The Sting is not just any revenge movie but a classic one that won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. In this 1973 film, two con men seek vengeance against a powerful mob boss by executing an elaborate con with many twists and turns. The various awards it has won over the years show the film’s enduring legacy. The stylish music, sets, and costumes make it an all-time favorite among fans of cinema.
Clint Eastwood confronts the customs of the West, which he and Sergio Leone helped create in the 1960s, in this tale of retribution and sorrow. In the movie Unforgiven, a guy takes on one final mission that ends with the death of his best buddy. The events that follow are less of a wild adventure and more of a reflection on what the West can do to a man and how those last sunsets are truly simply a mirror of bloody towns.
Thrillers are some of the most popular and satisfying best revenge movies to watch. They contain themes of redemption, forgiveness, and morality that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000) is a neo-noir psychological thriller that follows the story of Leonard, portrayed by Guy Pearce. Leonard has anterograde amnesia and seeks vengeance on the person who killed his wife. The movie’s non-linear storytelling keeps viewers on edge throughout its runtime. Memento has won accolades for its complex character development, unique narrative style, and engrossing themes about memory and revenge. It’s no wonder that Memento remains at the top of the list of the best revenge movies.
Oldboy (2003) is a critically acclaimed South Korean thriller about a man seeking vengeance against those who wronged him. The film, which has Choi Min-sik and Yoo Ji-tae in the lead roles, explores the theme of revenge and its repercussions. With its brutal yet beautiful portrayal of violence and stunning cinematography that captures the emotions of the characters perfectly, Oldboy is a must-watch for fans of the best revenge movies. Praised for its brilliant performances by its cast and direction by Park Chan-wook himself, Oldboy has won numerous accolades at international film festivals, including Cannes.
Kill Bill (2003 & 2004)
Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is a two-part thriller starring Uma Thurman, who seeks payback against the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who betrayed her on her wedding day. From impelling battle sequences to an unforgettable score, this cinema classic is renowned for its distinctive visuals and inventive nods to pop culture.
I will find you: Taken (2008)
Released in 2008, Taken is a must-watch for those who enjoy the best revenge movies. The film tells the gripping story of Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent determined to rescue his daughter from the clutches of ruthless human traffickers. With intense action scenes and memorable characters such as Bryan Mills, portrayed by Liam Neeson, Taken has become a cult classic among fans of thrillers. It features well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie. If you are looking for a fast-paced flick with non-stop action and thrilling plot points, then Taken is one of the best revenge films to watch.
Best Revenge Movies filled with Action-Packed Adrenaline
Audiences looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience should check out action-packed best revenge movies. Some top-notch examples include Kill Bill – which features Uma Thurman’s unforgettable performance as The Bride seeking vengeance against her former team of assassins led by Bill (David Carradine) – and John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves as a retired hitman who seeks revenge after gangsters kill his beloved dog. Other great picks include The Revenant, Django Unchained, Gladiator, and Oldboy – which is directed by visionary filmmaker Park Chan-Wook and follows the story of Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), who is held captive for 15 years before being released to seek revenge against those who imprisoned him.
John Wick (2014)
In John Wick (2014), Keanu Reeves stars as a retired hitman on a mission to avenge his dog’s death. With impressive stunts and intense fight scenes, this action-packed film is a must-watch for fans of the genre. The film’s choreography and cinematography have received praise from viewers and critics alike. John Wick is just one example of the many thrilling best revenge movies in cinema history.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Charlize Theron shines in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), a post-apocalyptic film where she rebels against a brutal tyrant seeking vengeance. The movie dazzles with its stunning visuals and pulse-pounding action scenes, which make it an unforgettable experience for fans of the best revenge movies genre. Alongside Charlize Theron’s commanding performance is Tom Hardy’s impressive portrayal of ‘Max,’ a man seeking his own kind of revenge. Mad Max: Fury Road explores themes of survival and redemption in an unforgiving world while telling a thrilling story that keeps you at the edge of your seat.
Gladiator is an epic film that follows the story of a vengeful Roman general seeking retribution against the corrupt emperor who killed his family and took away his power. With its intense action sequences and captivating visuals, Gladiator won several Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe’s exceptional performance as Maximus. It is widely considered as one of the greatest revenge movies ever made. The movie showcases the brutality of ancient Rome while exploring themes like loyalty, vengeance, and redemption in an unforgettable way.
The Crow (1994)
Eric Draven, played by Brandon Lee, comes back from the dead seeking vengeance against those who murdered him and his fiancée in “The Crow (1994).” It’s a dark and intense thriller that deals with love, loss, and redemption. Ernie Hudson as Sergeant Albrecht and Michael Massee as Funboy both gave notable performances alongside Lee. Featuring some of the best action sequences ever filmed in a revenge film, “The Crow” is a must-watch for cinema lovers looking for brutality mixed with emotions.
Best Revenge Movies on Epic Vengeance
Epic Vengeance is the ultimate depiction of seeking retribution through cinema. These movies allow viewers to witness their beloved protagonists take matters into their own hands and deliver justice in their own unique way. Such films often showcase brutality and depict some iconic scenes that have left a lasting impression on audiences worldwide. Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill with its protagonist Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, and Russell Crowe’s Maximus from Gladiator are some notable mentions among the best revenge movies, that gained critical acclaim and won Oscars for their performances.
William Wallace leads a rebellion against the English after they brutally oppress the Scottish people in Braveheart (1995). Mel Gibson and Sophie Marceau give outstanding performances amidst intense battle scenes in this timeless tale of vengeance. The movie’s themes of freedom and justice are globally resonant and earned it five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Braveheart remains an unforgettable addition to the pantheon of best revenge movies.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) is a thrilling revenge film based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas. The protagonist, Edmond Dantès, takes matters into his own hands to seek vengeance against those who betrayed him. Featuring an incredible cast including Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce, this cinema masterpiece explores themes of love and redemption amidst the brutality and payback. Directed by Kevin Reynolds and nominated for an Oscar in Best Picture category, this revenge movie has stood the test of time as one of the best revenge movies ever produced.
Freedom Forever: V for Vendetta (2006)
V for Vendetta (2006) is much more than just another one of the best revenge movies. It’s a visually stunning thriller with an unforgettable protagonist named V. He wears an iconic Guy Fawkes mask which has become one of the most recognizable symbols of rebellion in cinema history. The movie has intense action sequences and a powerful message about individual freedom. Starring Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, and Stephen Rea, V for Vendetta is definitely not your typical revenge film.
Best Revenge Movies: Psychological Thrillers
Psychological thrillers often revolve around the theme of revenge, which impacts the characters significantly. Movies portray different types of revenge, such as physical, emotional, and psychological. This aspect affects the plot and character development as well.
Black Swan (2010)
Black Swan (2010) is a psychological thriller that delves into the dark side of ambition and obsession. Natalie Portman delivers an Oscar-winning performance as a troubled ballerina whose pursuit of perfection spirals out of control. Director Darren Aronofsky uses haunting visuals and an intense score to create a sense of dread that culminates in a shocking finale. With its exploration of psychological torment and themes of vengeance, Black Swan is an unforgettable addition to the best revenge movies list.
The Machinist (2004)
“The Machinist (2004)” is an intense psychological thriller that delves into the theme of revenge. The story revolves around a guilt-ridden machinist who’s falsely accused of causing a fatal workplace accident due to his deteriorating mental health. He sets out on a perilous journey that will destroy his sanity because of an obsession and a desire for retribution against those who have ruined his life. With its intense performances and haunting atmosphere, this movie is among the best revenge movies in cinema history.
Gone Girl (2014)
Based on the best-selling book by Gillian Flynn, David Fincher’s 2014 psychological thriller film Gone Girl. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick Dunne and Amy Dunne, respectively, the film tells the story of a young woman who takes matters into her own hands after discovering her husband’s infidelity. With its brutal depiction of vengeance, Gone Girl joins the ranks of some of the best revenge movies ever made.
Unique Takes on Best Revenge Movies
Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say, and the cinema has plenty of dishes to choose from when it comes to serving up this particular delicacy. Revenge movies can be cathartic for audiences seeking justice and closure. Some of the best revenge films offer a unique take on the genre, such as dark comedies or stories with unexpected twists.
Mandy (2018) is a highly recommended film that approaches the genre with unique elements of horror, fantasy, and action. Starring Nicolas Cage in an Oscar-worthy performance as the protagonist seeking revenge against a brutal cult responsible for killing his wife. Mandy’s stunning visual effects and captivating soundtrack enhance its already intense brutality which is sure to appeal to fans of dark cinema. With echoes of “Kill Bill,” “John Wick” or even Russell Crowe’s character Maximus in “Gladiator”, it’s no surprise that this Revenge movie has received critical acclaim since its release making it one of the best revenge movies of all time.
Django Unchained (2012)
In Django Unchained (2012), a freed slave seeks vengeance against his former owners and their associates. This Quentin Tarantino-directed revenge film set in the American South before the Civil War stars Jamie Foxx as the protagonist and features Christoph Waltz in an Oscar-winning role as a bounty hunter who becomes Django’s ally. With its signature blend of action, humor, and social commentary, this best revenge movies showcases Foxx’s talent for portraying complex characters. This must-watch cinema also brings to life the brutality of slavery and how one can take matters into their own hands.
Blue Ruin (2013)
In Blue Ruin (2013), the protagonist seeks vengeance for his parents’ murder in a unique way that focuses on the emotional toll that revenge can have on an individual. This critically acclaimed revenge thriller offers strong performances by lead actors paired with stunning cinematography and a haunting score that intensifies the tension. The film’s unexpected twists keep audiences engaged until its conclusion. With its avoidance of cliches and expert direction from Jeremy Saulnier, Blue Ruin (2013) is among the best revenge movies in cinema history.
Best Revenge Movies in Foreign Films
Foreign language films that showcase the theme of vengeance delve deep into the complexities of morality, justice, and the human condition. Be it an intense drama or a gripping action thriller; these movies bring a novel perspective to revenge stories. Chan-wook’s period thriller ‘The Handmaiden’, these foreign films offer viewers an immersive cinematic experience filled with unexpected twists and turns.
I Saw the Devil: Watch on Amazon Prime
The riveting thriller, “I Saw the Devil” (2010) by renowned Korean director Kim Jee-Woon, unleashes the savagery of retribution. When a cruel bus driver kills someone, a committed secret agent’s husband launches a persistent investigation to find the culprit. The hero continually catches and releases his prey, extending the agony, so this story takes a bizarre turn. This demanding movie, which has a two-and-a-half-hour length, tests both its characters and viewers. Get ready for a challenge that tests the limits of retaliation with this gut-wrenching flick, amoung the best revenge movies of all time.
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Immerse yourself in Shane Meadows’ unrelenting revenge thriller “Dead Man’s Shoes,” with its compelling narrative and raw intensity. The film’s gritty, raw tone evokes the experimental movies of the 1970s, particularly Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs.”
Paddy Considine gives a standout performance as Richard, paying reference to classic figures like the unthreatening yet coerced into violent antihero from “Straw Dogs” and the disintegrating war veteran Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver.” Considine portrays both empathy and explosiveness as he pursues retribution in this disturbed ex-soldiers trip, which is set in his hometown in northern England.
As Richard’s quest for retribution progresses, get ready for an engrossing fusion of emotional depth and intense action. You’ll be riveted until the very end thanks to Meadows’s excellent storyline and Considine’s outstanding performance.
Lady Snowblood (1973)
Lady Snowblood (1973) is a masterpiece of Japanese cinema that tells the story of a young woman seeking vengeance against those who wronged her family. This movie, which Toshiya Fujita directed and starred Meiko Kaji in the lead role, is well-known for its stunning cinematography, exciting action, and strong feminist themes. With its complex characters and brutal depiction of violence, Lady Snowblood has inspired countless revenge stories in cinema and television, from Kill Bill to John Wick. Anyone looking for a thrilling tale of vengeance should not miss this unforgettable classic.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (2016) is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith. This Korean film tells the story of a pickpocket’s elaborate plan against a wealthy heiress she has been hired to serve. With its unique setting and complex characters, this erotic psychological thriller is one of the best revenge movies, exploring themes of guilt, redemption, and revenge in an unforgettable way. The Handmaiden (2016) has received critical acclaim for its cinematography, direction, and acting performances.
Revenge on TV
Revenge cinema has always been popular among audiences who seek catharsis through brutal acts of vengeance. Complex protagonists taking the law into their own hands is a common theme in movies and TV shows alike. Breaking Bad and Revenge are two such examples of TV shows that delve deep into the psyche of their flawed protagonists. Kill Bill and Gladiator, directed by Quentin Tarantino and Ridley Scott respectively, are some of the best revenge movies that showcase the protagonist’s journey towards redemption through unforgettable violence. Through its complex characters and plot twists, Park Chan-wook’s South Korean film Oldboy explores themes of guilt, retribution, and redemption.
I am the Danger: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Breaking Bad (2008-2013) is a must-watch TV series about a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who turns to the production and sale of meth after being diagnosed with cancer. Through its exploration of complex characters and gripping plotlines that touch upon themes of family and revenge on those who have wronged Walter White. Breaking Bad has garnered critical acclaim and won numerous awards including Primetime Emmy Awards. It is truly one of the best TV series out there.
Emily Thorne’s quest for vengeance makes Revenge (2011-2015) one of the best revenge TV shows you need to watch. This critically acclaimed TV series with its exciting plotlines, complex characters, and strong performances from Emily VanCamp and Madeleine Stowe will keep you glued to your screen. The show brilliantly explores themes of power, betrayal, and redemption while providing viewers with an engaging storyline. So if you’re looking for some thrilling content that packs a punch without being too brutal or graphic, Revenge is the perfect show for you.
Revenge movies have been a staple in cinema for years and for good reason. They allow us to live vicariously through the protagonist as they seek justice and redemption. From classic revenge movies to psychological thrillers, there is something for everyone. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and watch our list of the best revenge movies of all time.