The revenge film is a satisfying one; it provides us with the pleasant opportunity to bask in the glory of vengeance, ass-kicking and score-settling. The male revenge film is especially popular, having produced plenty of great protagonists, including the tall, dark and mysterious gunslinger El Mariachi in Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy, gothic reanimated guitarist Eric Draven in The Crow and the moral professional hitman in Léon.
Cinema has its fair share of females hell bent on achieving revenge, too, and here Roobla presents five pretty awesome examples. This article contains spoilers.
A 14 year old vigilante takes justice against paedophiles and murderers – Hard Candy
Ellen Page portrays Hayley Stark, a feisty and intelligent teenager who meets up with a suspected paedophile, photographer Jeff. She tricks him into taking her back to his apartment, uses the tricks of sexual predators to sedate and restrain him and a day of emotional torture follows.
Hayley isn’t acting out for no apparent reason though, she’s determined to seek justice for the kidnap and murder of a local girl, as the police have failed to do so. Hayley’s revenge is dramatic, emotional and often has spectators worrying about the consequences of her actions, but this 14 year old girl is extremely smart, calculating and organised, and she continuously keeps us guessing.
A skilled former assassin seeks out those who killed her fiancée and unborn child – Kill Bill 1 & 2
Beatrix Kiddo/The Bride (Uma Thurman) is a ruthless warrior who, whilst trying to settle with a normal life and family, gets ambushed at her wedding rehearsal. The church becomes a bloodbath as Bill and his assassins murder everyone in the room and leave Beatrix in a coma for four years. She awakes and devotes her life to killing the five people who destroyed her life.
The Bride goes through hell, from being prostituted and raped whilst in the coma to taking several beatings to being buried alive, but she’s determined and strong. Audiences can’t help but cheer for her, as her vengeance is truly deserved and overdue.
A social outcast and ward of the state pays her rapist guardian a visit – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander, an introverted and alternative but extremely intelligent private investigator who must obtain permission to withdraw her own money. Knowing his word is trusted more than hers, Lisbeth’s sadistic guardian Bjurman blackmails her to perform sexual acts on him so she can afford food and everyday items. When Lisbeth’s computer is broken and she requests money, he attacks, kidnaps and rapes her.
The very emotional and traumatic scene is soon followed by one of the most satisfying examples of revenge in film; Salander tricks the pervert into allowing her into his apartment, tasers and restrains him and then anally rapes him with a sex toy. Lisbeth also threatens him with a video of her rape which she secretly recorded, and then tattoos ‘I am a sadistic pig, a pervert, and a rapist’ on his stomach, to make sure he never touches a woman again.
While her actions are extremely violent and perhaps unnecessary, audiences will cheer Lisbeth on, and revel in the revenge of a disgusting man.
Three women respond to the unprovoked and deadly attacks of a psychopathic murderer – Death Proof
Two stunt doubles, Zoe and Kim, and a make up artist, Abernathy, are test driving an expensive 1970 Dodge Challenger; the fearless Zoe rides on the car’s bonnet whilst holding onto belts. Fellow stuntman and insane killer Mike follows the women and, in fits of hysterical laughter, proceeds to rear end their car in attempts to run them off the road.
His unprovoked acts terrify and upset the women, who fear for Zoe’s safety, but they soon perk up when Kim shoots him and they realise they have the upper hand. Their awesome revenge features Zoe beating the maniac with a pole and Mike’s car is rammed and rolled; the process is complete with a three-way beating. In true Tarantino style, the revenge is hilarious, and has viewers laughing just as hysterically as Mike, we can’t help worrying about the condition of the borrowed car though!
A cinema owner acts out Jewish vengeance on the high ranks of the German army – Inglourious Basterds
Melanie Laurent is Shosanna, a disgruntled Jew in Nazi occupied France. She disguises her true Jewish identity and runs a cinema with assistant Marcel. Her past is troubled and upsetting; her family was killed by the ruthless SS Colonel Hans Landa whilst hiding under floorboards. Shosanna narrowly escapes their bullets, and flees to live with her Aunt and Uncle.
Many years later she’s given a rare opportunity; the Germans will be premiering a film at her cinema, and in attendance will be Hans Landa, all of the highest ranking officers, and the 20th Century’s worst enemy himself, Hitler. She gathers her extremely flammable nitrate film collection and also records a creepy confession. On the night of the premiere, Marcel sets the film alight and the Nazis are treated to the satisfied voice of Shosanna explaining her ‘Jewish vengeance’ while they suffocate and burn in the locked screening room.
A job well done by the resourceful and selfless couple, we can’t help wishing this is how World War 2 should have ended.
With three examples belonging to his films, Quentin Tarantino seemingly dominates the female revenge theme, and we can’t help loving his strong female characters.