Vengeance is served hot, cold and everything in-between (and in a few different languages as well) in this collection of revenge-themed flicks now available for instant gratification on Netflix Instant.
Takashi Miike's adaptation of Hideo Yamamoto's manga finds the prolific director in one of his more violent and outlandish modes (to say the least) in this tale of a young man named Ichi, a psycho maniac dressed in a rubber stuntman suit prone to unstoppable fits of rage. By halfway through the film (though perhaps even sooner), everyone -- Yakuza mobsters, prostitutes, cops, you name it -- is pretty much on a mission of revenge against everyone else, with Ichi in the middle, cutting through everything with the razors hidden in his shoes. If you like this kind of stuff, Ichi the Killer is a stark raving insane treat; if a movie that has a scene where someone hanging from the ceiling by metal hooks is being tortured by having spikes shoved into them and later being covered in boiling oil isn't your thing, stay as far away as possible. No, really.
Oh, beware the scorned male ego, especially if that scorned male ego belongs to Ray Winstone. While it doesn't quite pack the same punch as Sexy Beast (also written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto and starring Winstone and Ian McShane), 44 Inch Chest features great British actors delivering crackling dialogue whilst they engage in an emotional tug of war that can't possibly end well for anybody -- in other words, it's a pleasure to not only watch but listen to. Winstone plays a car salesman who discovers his wife (Joanne Whalley) has been cheating on him with a French waiter; soon, his pals -- including John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane and McShane -- have convinced him to kidnap the "Frog" and subject him to a series of mental and physical abuses. There's not much point to all this hullabaloo, but it's a total blast.
Forget what you may have heard about this final installment in Chan-wook Park's unofficial "vengeance trilogy" -- Lady Vengeance is a terrific film, filled with the director's usual visual flair, technical prowess and stark characterizations. In fact, the only thing really "wrong" with it is that it's just not as good as its predecessor, Oldboy -- which, unfortunately, might be enough of a distinction for fans to condemn it as a "disappointment." For the record, we love every minute of the vengeful quest of "Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja," a recently paroled and seemingly reformed female convict who's out to destroy the scumbag who framed her for the murder of a young schoolboy. Suffice to say, she doesn't remain "kind-hearted" for very long.
This tale of hot lusty passion and almost unimaginable cruelty serves as a warning to anyone who might be considering canoodling with a powerful man's trophy wife. Kevin Costner plays a retired Navy aviator who accepts an invitation to spend some down time in Mexico with his old pal, an elderly crime boss (Anthony Quinn) who happens to be married to a raving beauty played by Madeleine Stowe. Before too long, the two youngsters are makin' love on the sly, but when the cuckold finds out, well... things get really, really ugly. Revenge is so dirty, nasty and grimy that you'll feel like taking a half dozen showers after watching it -- and watch it you should, as it's one of director Tony Scott's most underrated films.
Ingmar Bergman's disturbing revenge tale set in medieval Sweden won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1961 -- and went on to inspire Wes Craven's oft-banned grindhouse thriller, The Last House on the Left, as a father, a devout Christian, is driven to murder when his young daughter is raped and killed by three herdsmen. While Bergman's gorgeous and genuinely unsettling film may at first glance seem relatively spare and simplistic compared to some of his more ambitious works, The Virgin Spring actually has a lot on its mind in regards to the questioning of religious faith, sexual innocence and justice. It also managed to get banned itself due to the rape scene -- in Fort Worth, Texas, of all places.