Vengeance (2009) Poster

(2009)

User Reviews

Review this title
30 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
Take the Revenge
samuelding857 November 2009
It is not very often nowadays that you will get to see Johnnie To's new production frequently in the cinema, compared to his heydays with his working partner, Wai Kar Fai. Both had churned out several box office hit and flops during the early decade of the 21st century, and it is believe that good things are worth the wait. Vengeance is the answer to To's long awaited latest action thriller, after directing two previous productions beyond his normal scope of story line.

With his usual suspects (Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Lam Kar Tung and Lam Suet), To recruits French rock star Johnny Hallyday to be the leading actor in the Hong Kong – France production. Nominated for Palm D'Ors in Cannes Film Festival 2009, Singapore has the opportunity to get the release of Vengeance in its original Cantonese-English version, since Hong Kong productions are barred from releasing in Cantonese version due to Singapore censorship regulation. This gives Singaporeans a true blue experience of the idea and message To wants to bring to his audience. And yes, it is a must to catch it in cinemas.

Vengeance begins with Costello (Hallyday) seeking revenge for the massacre of his daughter's family. He recruited three professional assassins, namely Kwai (Wong), Chu (Lam Kar Tung) and Lok (Lam Suet). While Kwai, Chu and Lok helps Costello in hunting down the killers responsible for the massacre, the investigation leads them to the mafia boss and employer, George Fung (Yam), who is behind the massacre.

Vengeance marks the last chapter of To's gunman trilogy (The Mission, 2001; Exiled, 2006), where the trilogy shares the same trademark of a mass gunfight, and stories revolving professional killers force to stand on the side they believed in, or made to believe in. While a mass crossfire between both conflicting sides is inevitable in To's trilogy, he never fails to surprise the audience in presenting the gunfight. Just like the mass shootout at the hotel in Exiled, Vengeance shows us with the crossfire at the garbage recycle center, where large cubes of compressed old newspaper becomes the shield for the gunmen.

Also, expect several scenes without any dialog, as To wants the audience to watch the body language, so as to do the interpretation themselves. The movie lives to the genre of an 'action flick', where body language is an action to tell the story.

Hallyday takes the leading role of Castello, which is something fresh that an audience can look forward to. Here, he is a chef with a past, where being a former professional killer, he had a short lived memory as a bullet was left in his brain. This creates a Memento like scenario, where he tracks down the people looking for using Polaroid pictures. He has the support of the three killers, who assist him in tracking down the killers behind the massacre. While there seems to be some kind of mirror reflection from Exiled, we do not see the fun elements that exist in Exiled. A sense of sorrow replaced the fun in Vengeance, where the killers do not kill for brotherhood (which explains why the fun elements steps in at Exiled), but for the sense of obligation, which slowly developed to personal revenge.

While Wong and Lam Suet were portraying similar roles in Exiled, Lam Kar Tung was given more opportunity to explore the role of the killer, compared to his minor role as a gang leader in Exiled. Similarly, Simon Yam was reprising the same role he had in Exiled, which makes no differences in both movies. Michelle Ye and Maggie Shiu, as the two leading actress, ends up being a sidekick in Vengeance, where Ye plays a pregnant woman taking care of Costello, while Shiu as the police inspector handling the massacre. This can be deduced that Vengeance is more of a masculine thriller.

In overall, Vengeance is one of the few thrillers in 2009 that must not be missed. If you love an action thriller, don't miss it. If you think that all Hong Kong thrillers are the same, Vengeance is something new that you can look at.
36 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A French chef on rampage far from home - Johnny To at his best
fx-423 February 2010
Oh my - When Billy The Kid met Memento met Tokyo Eyes met The Limey on steroids… The only film ever in which I enjoyed watching Johnny Hallyday. Anthony Wong is just bloody amazing, as in everything I saw with him - not much I concede, according to his length impressing filmography on IMDb.

I discovered Johnny To a few years back when The Mission came out, and since then, I am trying to watch anything he did. I skipped this one when it came out, being frightened by the infamous French/Belgian 60's idol presence - I just can't stand him as a public person. I was so wrong. Even though the first Hallyday's dialogue are just plain dreadful (the hospital scene at the beginning), Johnny To managed to take control and silence him. And the miracle works out.

When you forget even about the meaning of the word, what does vengeance means ?
15 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Complex action film will reward those who stay with it past its short comings
dbborroughs31 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Johnnie To gives me a wild end of year treat with his tale of French chef who comes to Macao to get revenge for his daughter. She was shot and her family killed in a hit for an unknown reason. The chef, played by Johnny Hallyday, hires three hit men to help him get revenge. The trouble is things are not quite what they seem and complications set in.

This is a wonderfully awkward film, awkward in part as the result of the multiple languages being spoken through the film (the mix of English, French and Chinese require that you see this with subtitles. They also create some awkward speaking performances as people are not always comfortable with what they are saying) and partly the result of the way things unfold. It takes awhile for the film to click but once it does the film blossoms into one of the better films of the year.

To be certain there is action and twists galore, but the best thing in the film are the actors. Anthony Wong, Suet Lam and Ka Tung Lam are the men Hallyday hires and they are wonderful. You sense the bond between them. Hallyday is a revelation in a role that is at first simple, and then becomes something more. To say that his stoic face hides many things is an understatement. Not to spoil anything, but what first seems like a kick ass attitude soon becomes something else entirely. There is something going on here and Hallyday pulls it off winningly. Its hands down one of the best performances of the year. You go with the film where ever its going because you like Hallyday and his friends....

...which is a good thing because there are two sequences in the later part of the film that almost derails the film. Both sequences follow in close proximity to each other (one is a weak shoot out in a field and the other is what happens after that) and are going to be the point at which many people either give up on the film or press onward. I kind of gave up, but this being a Johnnie To film and what had gone before was so good I figured that To would pull it out. He did and the film ends with one of the great gun fights of the year.(I blame the sequences on screenwriter Ka-Fai Wai who is one of the best writers in Asia today, but at the same time he often takes things in an odd direction just look at Running on Karma, Himalaya Singh, The Mad Detective or Written By). I think if you're willing to go with the bumps you'll find the film rewarding.

I really liked this film a great deal. For those who like more than just straight forward action this is a must. Honestly there is a great deal going on here and it makes you think as it makes you go wow.

One of the Better films of 2009.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Fans of "Exile" and "The Mission" will know what to expect...
Siamois15 December 2009
A decade ago, director Johnny To made an impression on many when he released "The Mission". Several years later, he explored similar ideas in "Exiled". Now, in 2009, Johnny To releases another movie and like the former two, it is a story of stoic killers dealing with issues of duty, loyalty, friendship and revenge all wrapped up in violence and tragedy.

To's style is unmistakable and yet reminds you of many high profile directors. There is of course the resemblance to Asian cinema in the vein of Woo. To like many of his contemporaries likes to mix modern, stylish action scenes with the bleakness of Noir films. The fact he is a fan of Jean-Pierre Melville shows big time, especially in Vengeance. I would also say he puts his mark on films as much as Sergio Leone did decades ago.

If you've liked The Mission and Exiled, chances are you will enjoy Vengeance although it is the weakest of the three in execution. Many scenes are reminiscent of the other two (particularly Exiled) and it features many of the actors. I thought the blood splatter effects from gunshots in Exiled were bold and promising. Unfortunately, here they aren't as stylish and clash a bit with the action.

Johnny To likes to concentrate on style. The stories are primal, the characters are archetypes. The Mission had an extremely simple core story, allowing the scenes to flow one after the other. In Exile, the plot was more convoluted while being less interesting. Vengeance is a return to a simpler plot. Unfortunately, it relies on extraordinary coincidences making suspension of disbelief impossible. You just have to enjoy the ride.

A good film but not the director's best.
22 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Another Beautiful Gun Movie from Johnny To
mmushrm24 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If you are familiar with Johnny To's gun movies you know you can expect beautiful almost dancelike gun play sequences. This movie is no exception.

The 1st Johnny To movie (that I know of) was The Mission, the poses, camera angles and shots of guys with guns were breath taking beautiful, almost erotic. Same with the follow up in Exile. Vengeance brought it to a new level. The shoot out in the park added, "moonlight" and "shadows from clouds" to the effect.

The usual suspects of course are great, these guys have portrayed triad hit men so often its probably as natural as breathing. Throw in Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis, into the fray. Johny is OLD, 66 when this movie came out, and he looks old. His acting is still as bad as ever but luckily Johnny To's movies does not require deep acting nor dialogue. In fact i found Johnny rather off putting, especially shots of his face...he looks like a mummy with dead eyes.

The movie is great, the story is the usual gangster fare. Johnny's travels to Macau to avenge the murder of his daughters family. teams up with the local hit men to go after the killers. Plot twist, seems the hit mens' boss was the one that ordered the hit. Big gunfight ensues.....

The part that i found disappointing about the movie was the lack of character development on Johnny's character "Costello". He says he's a chef but can handle a gun. Then he reveals in 1 line of dialogue that he was in the business before as the hit men. Thats it and the point is simply never brought up again. Oh he suffers from Alzeihmers from a bullet tot he head.

Good movie, something I would recommend just on the beauty of the gun "dance".
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Simple To(ken of gratitude)
kosmasp14 August 2010
As a Johnnie To fan, I have to say, that this is one of his weaker works. But it sill has a standard that some others may never reach (in my opinion that is of course). While there are themes of some of his other movies here too (loyalty etc.) and there are some nice character beats, as a whole there seems something lacking. But not only that, even small details have been done better.

One scene for example, where our main character puts a gun together has been done with much more style and class in the Korean movie "A bittersweet life". Also the ending of that scene feels rushed and somehow wrong. The main actors sometimes have to speak English (although it seems that some of them have been dubbed, they still learned phonetically, so it doesn't appear as dubbed) and you can tell, they are not feeling good doing this.

While our main character has a flaw, there are still quite a few things that shouldn't have happened quite like they do in the movie (pictures for example, and you will know what I mean, if you watch the movie). And while the flaw is a nice touch, it also almost works against the movie.

Again, a good movie in my book, but still quite a bit off ... what I came to expect from Mr. To!
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
A Nutshell Review: Vengeance
DICK STEEL9 November 2009
If Daddy's little girl got hurt, you know darn well that Daddy will spare no effort in hunting the perpetrators down, especially when the police is inept, and turning to the other side of the law for revenge seem all the more attractive. Cost isn't a factor too, since everything has a price, especially with a dad willing to sell everything just to see his brand of justice get exacted.

Welcome to Johnnie To's world of hit men and a tale of vengeance, set in the cities of Macau and Hong Kong, with his regular Milkyway cast and crew set to deliver an all too familiar premise, now joined by French actor Johnny Hallyday as Costello, a chef who's naturally more than meets the eye, being able to assemble a stripped handgun blindfolded and in record time compared to seasoned veterans. His daughter and her family got gunned down in cold blood, and working against time and with only an injured ear as a clue, he capitalizes on a chance encounter with the hit men trio of Kwai (Anthony Wong), Chu (Lam Ka Tung) and Fatty Lok (Lam Suet), who for plenty of Euros, a watch, a restaurant and an apartment in Paris, take up this assignment for quite the good deal as it is.

Only of course for Wai Ka-Fai's story to put them in a dilemma of sorts, when they have to consider whether to honour an agreement with someone they know little about, or to do so with their long time contract employer (played to evil delight by Simon Yam), fully aware that crossing the latter will briing about some drastic results, akin to biting the hand that feeds you.

And of course with such consequences come plenty of room for some balletic shootouts, only that the initial big one, with Eddie Cheung, Felix Wong and Ng Ting Yip turned out to be a dark affair under a moon shadowed by cloud cover, with black leather jackets not helping much in knowing who's shooting who in the dark. Otherwise, there were some quirky scenes such as the innovating rolling of rubbish bales to act as sandbags in an open plain, and the finale which will see you rooting for just desserts to be served.

Johnnie To has included plenty of his signature style in this film, from stand offs to no holds barred shootouts with a myriad of semi and automatic handguns and rifles, it's like an education session with a firearms nut. Which of course entertains since the cast, already so familiar with his style, and familiar with what's expected of them, pulled this off oozing plenty of maschismo along the way. I cannot for the life of me think of any other non- resident actors who can waltz into a Johnnie To film and look and feel like his gangsters, though Johnny Hallyday comes close with a dogged mission, and a look that has seen better, glorious days.

There are some shades of To's earlier films such as The Mission and Exiled, which isn't too difficult to draw some parallels from since they start essentially a similar core cast, and with some scenes which I thought were uncannily lifted from Exiled with the enemy assault and flight from the fire escape, and there's almost always a scene in the rain with umbrellas, a throwback to other Milkyway productions like Sparrow and Eye in the Sky. There's a twist in the story involving a character in the film which I will not dwell or make references to (since you're likely to go Oh, that looked like a plot element from some other film), but suffice to say that that little wee bit that came unexpected, provided more gravitas to the title Vengeance, since it now takes on a whole new dimension altogether, with more action promised of course, but examining the notion of the act of Vengeance, on how different it will be altogether when one no longer remembers the purpose it's supposed to serve.

It's strictly for Johnnie To's fans who know what to expect from the master and now poster boy of Hong Kong cinema, and probably a good introduction too for those new to his films. Those sitting on the fence will wonder what the fuss is about with this film being part of the official selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival, but over here, this film is making a fuss, especially for me, and I'll give you a reason.

For once, we can watch a Hong Kong film with Cantonese dialogue left intact. While local film Blood Ties had Cantonese used as well, this film builds upon that goodwill extended by the powers that be. True, Vengeance has a chunk of dialogue in English, with the other chunk predominantly in Cantonese, and I'll take that. If this is an example of the rules being relaxed slowly, then I'm all for it because nothing, absolutely nothing, beats having to hear the cast emoting in their natural voices, rather than to have someone else step in to voice-over their roles. And of course, if we all don't turn into gangsters or start speaking Cantonese en masse, I think the film would've made the point that not everyone will be negatively influenced by such baseless concerns to begin with.

I smell change coming already, and let's hope it really does with Vengeance being that small step taken in the right direction!
25 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Silent but violent
MBunge4 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Though this mesmerizing movie is supposedly about revenge, it's really a story about honor. The honor a man carries for his family. The honor he shares among men like himself. The honor he clings to when everything else in his life is gone. It's the sense of obligation that drives men to do the most horrible of deeds and make the most noble of sacrifices. With the deliberate direction of Johnnie To and a cast of smoldering intensity, Vengeance is the sort of film that you can't stop watching.

After his daughter and her family are gunned down in China, a Frenchman with the fashion sense of Boris Badenov and a face that gets odder the closer you are sets out for revenge. A stranger in a strange land, Francis Costello (Johnny Hallyday) hires three expert killers (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ka Tung Lam and Sute Lam) to find the men responsible for his family tragedy and help him take his revenge. But a surprise found along the way and a secret Costello is keeping to himself force all four of them to decide what kind of men they are and in what sort of world they're willing to live.

The main thing to know about Vengeance, other than that it's quite good, is that this motion picture is dominated by silence. There's very little dialog, less of a soundtrack and even the gun battles are striking for how they echo in the quiet. Except for a few blips of expository dialog, the storytelling here is entirely visual. Director To exhibits a master's touch in framing his actors' movements, expressions and even postures to beam this tale through your eyes and imprint it on your brain.

The action scenes here are magnificently realized and striking in their use of space. From a running gun battle through moonlit woods to a shootout in a building, the way events unfold in a linear fashion is far more compelling than the most frenetic blur of jump cuts and camera movement. It captures the athleticism of real human movement without exceeding into the realm of stylized combat ballet.

Johnny Hallyday may be the star of Vengeance but I found him too odd looking a duck to connect with. It took me a while simply to get used to the fact that he wasn't wearing some poorly molded prosthetic make up. For me, the standout of the cast was Anthony Wong Chau-Sang as Kwai, the de factor leader of the three killers hired by Costello. He draws your eyes in like magnetic iron and then reflects your gaze back onto Hallyday. Chau-Sang plays Kwai as seeing that Costello used to be the sort of man Kwai has always wanted to believe he was, helping to define both men's characters and giving the viewer a true north upon which to fix their eyes. It's Chau-Sang that elevates this story and banishes all petty and craven motivations and concerns.

Now, it doesn't make a lot of sense that in one scene Costello and his killers have the aim of drunken Sleestaks and in the rest they can shoot like Annie Oakley. The secret Costello carries is also more plot device than anything else. Those are minor quibbles, though.

Vengeance is a great example of how playing against convention can breathe new life into the most clichéd premise. Instead of being hot and loud and insistent, this movie is cool and calm and attractively implacable. It will leave you wanting to see more work by Johnnie To and Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, which is always one of the highest compliments you can give any film.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Silly and Funny
claudio_carvalho14 April 2014
In Macau, a family is attacked by three killers and only the wife survives severely wounded. Her father, the French chef Francis Costello (Johnny Hallyday), travels to Macau to visit his daughter in the hospital and steals the photos of his daughter, her husband and two children from the police department to seek revenge against the killers. Costello stumbles with the independent hit-men Kwai (Anthony Wong Chau- Sang), Chu (Ka Tung Lam) and Fat Lok (Suet Lam) that are under contract with the mobster George Fung (Simon Yam) at his hotel and he hires the trio to hunt down the killers of his daughter's family. They locate the killers in Hong Kong and they travel to kill them. But they have a surprise when they discover who ordered to kill the family.

"Fuk sau" is a silly and funny action movie that follows the style of the "spaguetti" westerns, with killers killing each other. The amnesia of Francis Costello and the situations created by his mental problem are so ridiculous and unbelievable that spoils the entertaining story that becomes a comedy. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Vingança" ("Revenge")
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Revenge With Style
jordache-wee31 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A blonde wife advises her children not to run under the rain while her husband, a Chinese local returns from home. She was cooking spaghetti for dinner when someone rang at the door when her husband checked the peephole – a shotgun fired through the door without warning and shot to death by three unknown hit men.

Forcing his wife and her two children into hiding upstairs in the master bedroom. Her children are kept safe inside the wardrobe while she gets her gun ready while one of the hit-man lean against the wall and she began to shoot and it hits his ear. She was gunned down and her children saw her on the ground.The children has seen the hit men faces and one of the hit-man has no choice but to assassinate them.

The wife arrived in the hospital, still breathing but under paralysis circumstances. An elderly man touchdown in Hong Kong to visit the paralyze woman; who happened to be his daughter: Irene Costello (Sylvie Testud). The father spoke to her in French and she told him and she wants vengeance.

François Costello aka Mr. Costello (Johnny Hallyday) went on his own investigation seeking for hit men for himself. Soon, he found Kwai (Anthony Wong), Chu (Gordon Lam Ka-Tung) and Fei Lok (Lam Suet) as his choice. Their reward would all his wealth and a restaurant in France. When asked about his background-he told them that he is chef but his former life was a hit-man back 20 years ago. But his weakness is his illness that he might not remember anyone or anything he does.

Mr. Costello ran away from the scene and found himself loss and trying to recall his hit men.

When their investigation starts to bear fruit, the hit men who kills his daughter family is none other than fishermen: Wolf (Eddie Cheung Siu Fai), Python (Felix Wong) and Crow (Ng Ting Yip).

The standoff between the Mr. Costello's hit men and his enemies went awry when they get to escape. Mr. Costello was badly injured and Fei Lok got hit in his ass.

Kwai received a phone call from his potential client, George Fung (Simon Yam); who direct the hit on his girlfriend and her lover when he found out the affair somewhere in the scene. Mr. Fung then ask him and his men to attend to another group of hit men who was shot by "3 Chinese men and 1 white man" which brings them back to them.

Kwai, Chu and Fei Lok had decided to disobey their paymaster and helped Mr. Costello. Disagreement and disloyalty always ended up with the final showdown.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Misfiring actioner
Vengeance is about a Frenchman who travels to Hong Kong and Macau to avenge the murder of his daughter's family. The Memento-like riff is that he is losing his memory and so needs to take photos of people to remind himself who they are. It takes a long time before the filmmakers find a way to use this idea creatively, and then they use it really badly. What's annoying is that the movie doesn't need the memory loss lead at all, the whole movie still would work well if the guy was compos mentis, you still have a fish-out-of-water lead character, and you still have lots of material about loyalty and brotherhood.

Bloodthirsty vengeance is obviously a really bad idea, and so if you're going to make it the theme of a movie, you need either a strongly pulpy feel to the movie, or you need really stupid characters; maybe make it a samurai movie, as the sort of moral codes that existed centuries ago would make sense of the characters and their motivations here. As it is, this movie just doesn't make sense. Some of the narrative conceits are weak, like how the lead character comes across some assassins for hire randomly in his hotel. The movie also had really bad CGI, you could see the blood spurts each time someone got shot were amateurish.

I ended up being pretty annoyed, it just felt like someone had torn a first draft script from a scriptwriter's hands and just started shooting with it. Johnny Hallyday (rest in peace), is a picture of pain, but because he's been worn down by age and strife, not because he's acting it, there's nothing expressive about what he's doing in this movie. It comes across like he's involved so that the movie still got co-production money. According to Roger Ebert he was a last minute substitution for Alain Delon.

I won't deny that the movie has effective moments, the set piece at the barbecue spot at night is really good, although even that has a really stupid moment (improbable boomeranging Frisbee). I've recently watched Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy, and this effort from Johnnie To is absolutely light years behind those excellent movies in terms of quality. Somehow this was accepted in competition at Cannes in 2009.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Film noir meets "Blade Runner" and "Memento": great!
pivic6 March 2016
This is a pure action-and-vengeance film, from start to finish. There's really no logic to some things, e.g. why the main character does not visit his estranged and brutally hurt (physically and mentally speaking) daughter in hospital, but is on a mission. Apart from that, though, this film is a study in cinematography, vengeance, neat tricks and sheer love for the kind of drama that I think all vengeance-based films should carry. There's a lot of fun too. What Hallyday keeps back because of his limited performance - just imagine if Alain Delon would have played the main character, which is what the director originally wanted - the sidekicks and the beauty of the film gives back. It's a bit like "Blade Runner" meets "Memento" and some ancient John Ford/Akira Kurosawa thing going on. A must-see for all action/vengeance flick buffs.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A strange movie, but that's all.
searchanddestroy-126 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I expected much more from that sort of homage to Jean-Pierre Melville's masterpiece: LE SAMOURAÏ. Johnny Halliday's character's name is Costello, as Alain Delon's one, in the Melville's film. And the outfit worn by Halliday reminds me the raincoats and hats we saw in Melville's movies too. The characters are very interesting, especially between the hired killers and the lead: Halliday. Johnny To emphasizes on relations between men: friendship and manhood. As, again, we saw in Melville's features. Very poignant sequences in offbeat, unusual moments. I really loved that.

But what a shame that the ending was a waste. A f...mess.

I prefer forget it.
13 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
You can't say they didn't nail the title.
oneguyrambling13 April 2011
It's the same pre-credit sequence that has kick-started dozens of films over the last few decades: a happy and loving couple are gunned down for apparently no reason in brutal fashion – although in this case they take the next step and include the two young cute children in the massacre to increase the stakes.

Now the rest of the film will be about who is the most p*ssed off and desperate for revenge.

That guy is Mr Costello, the French father of the critically injured mother, her two children and husband all not surviving the killing. I should point out here that at times the language switches between Chinese, French (with subtitles) and English. The film takes place in Macau but while the Hubby was Asian, the wife – and Costello's daughter – was French. I don't know why I found this interesting but I did, but it doesn't drag you out of the story.

In true vigilante fashion Mr Costello eschews the traditional law and order approach to finding the killers, after a chance encounter at a crime scene Costello declines the opportunity to bring a killer to justice and instead tracks down the accused to enlist him and his team to help find his daughter's family's killers. An odd form of ambulance chasing indeed! The new trio of bad guys agree to hop on board after Costello promises them cash and the restaurant he owns. They start using their contacts and trade secrets to get swift results, during the process it becomes evident that the 65ish Costello has skillz of his own – even if they haven't been utilised for quite a while.

So why doesn't he track them down himself? Well aside from his lack of inside Macau knowledge Costello's advanced age has caused memory issues in a similar vein to that of the lead character in Memento – he too takes photos and scrawls on them for reminders, meaning he can be a little ineffective once he has a "turn".

The plot is reasonably formulaic with only subtle variations on the usual sequence of events – a major shootout is delayed by the arrival of several of the combatant's kids. Vengeance has a couple of nifty battles where various minions are picked off with clean kills while the main characters are lightly wounded with bloody clothes being the only lasting sign, until near the very end of the film where the Reservoir Dogs rule – that of "most/all must die" kicks in.

Final Rating – 7 / 10. Take a pinch of SPL, add the core elements of Taken and a dash of Memento and you have a pretty good um… ahhh… Vengeance film. I guess they nailed the title.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
To all the haters:
madrhetoric3 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Though I agree to a certain extent of why you don't like this movie, you have some pretty weak reasons why. "you barely care about the family murdered in the beginning". You are not supposed to care about the family, you are supposed to care about Costello. You are supposed to bond with him, Kwai, Chu, and Fat Lok as a team. "his amnesia never presents itself at all until the end of the movie, and Fung just suddenly realizes he has it with no explanation how." Costello takes pictures of Kwai, etc. because he cannot remember. The amnesia doesn't get really bad until the end, after having shot at Fung (meaning he knows what he looks like), that he needs the sticker to remind him who Fung was, and since Fung is a smart guy (BOSS!) I'm pretty sure he doesn't need someone to tell him that Costello has amnesia. This movie has many similar themes to other Johnnie To movies, and although it's not his best work, he does a very good job. If you don't like the English dialog because it's not perfect of "silly" go move to HK and help them make a better script and teach them better pronunciation. Also, remember this is a French/Honk Kong production, not an American one, so things like "serious crimes unit" are OK, since most of the target audience doesn't speak English as well as we do. They don't know the difference, and it really doesn't matter. Check out To's other films, like the Mission, Exiled,etc. if you haven't.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Childish story and lame action
elias-westling11 December 2009
I was actually looking forward to this film. Older European man in Asia looking for payback, hong kong setting and guns blazing. Seems OK, right? But no.

I am surprised this one is rated so high. Pretty standard revenge story with a failed attempt at being original, dull main character and clumsy action scenes. I can enjoy stylish "asian" action, with dramatic slow-mo gun fights and If I was fourteen I might have enjoyed this one, but... come on. Failed drama, failed action. Halfway in I just lost interest in the old geezer's quest for revenge. One of those movies you're better off passing.
29 out of 94 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Boring what is the plot? Who cares? Avoid Evitez Mal Non
peru1-595-63010616 June 2013
Initial camera work looked promising but this is movie is so boring and the plot consisting almost entirely of gun battles and gore.

The story: Johnny Halladay 68 (French crooner from 60s) has a family in Macau or Hong Kong who is massacred by a thug. To get vengeance (title) Halladay recruits some thugs of his own. Turns out he used to be in the French underworld no doubt a Corsican (Contelli his name) and knows how to go about this business. Halladay at 68 looks like nothing else on the planet earth thanks to plastic surgery dye and make up. The plot is nothing but a series of shoot out and pulling bullets out of people.

Don't waste your time. In addition closed captioning would have helped a lot to follow this thing as Halladay's and his oriental cohorts' English was not the easiest to decipher--at least on an average TV.

The cinematography of these HK cheapo movies has improved greatly but the writers have not.

I finally fast forwarded it about a third the way through but why bother it just makes the incomprehensible totally opaque.. UNPLUG IT.

Avoid avoid avoid. Evitez Evitez Evitez--mal mal mal...non non non...

DO NOT RECOMMEND
6 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
An enjoyable artistic blood bath
nesfilmreviews24 January 2013
Johnnie To's artistic style is beautifully displayed and brought to life in "Vengeance", from stand-offs, to shootouts with a myriad of automatic weapons and handguns-the bullet shells never stop hitting the ground. This stylish, revenge melodrama is one of Johnnie To's best, and is also his first English language film. The third part of an informal trilogy, with "The Mission" and "Exiled" being the previous installments sharing a number of noted cast members (Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Lam Suet) and locations. The films are primarily connected by themes involving brotherhood and loyalty; fatalism; and group dynamics. All three films also feature artistic, elaborate, over-the-top action sequences. In "Vengeance" an aging and retired French gangster, Costello (Johnny Hallyday), now working as a chef, travels to Hong Kong when his daughter, son in law, and two grandchildren are gunned down in a seemingly professional hit. Though badly injured, his daughter survives and begs her father to take vengeance upon the perpetrators. And so he sets out to do just that, even though he has no idea where to start in this unfamiliar country. Rather conveniently, he happens upon three professional hit men (led by the legendary Anthony Wong) who've just bumped off the unfaithful mistress of their boss. Tentatively, he approaches them and tells them of his needs. Hesitantly, and with little verbal communication, they take Costello up on his offer, which includes payment of cash and his restaurant in Paris. Once hired, he takes individual Polaroid photographs of each hit man and writes their names on each photo. Costello does this throughout his encounters, due to the fact that there is a bullet from days gone by lodged near his brain and causing the Frenchman rapid memory loss. He needs these photos so he knows his friends from his enemies and to never forget his daughter's tragedy. The film's plot serves the fabled Hong Kong director Johnnie To as an excuse to create arresting visual action set pieces with stunning results. Scenes like Costello wandering through the rain in confusion, trying to spot his targets by reminding himself with the Polaroids, look absolutely magnificent. Some of the major action set- pieces, especially one involving Anthony Wong, are positively stunning. But through all the gloom and doom, humor is not forgotten in "Vengeance", with some occasional tongue-in-cheek dialogue delivered completely deadpan by Yam and Wong in particular. Then there are other sequences, such as a shootout that takes place at a picnic area in the woods, where two groups of killers wait for a family picnic to finish. And as night to falls, the families depart and the shoot out begins.The cinematography is visually-striking, and plenty of style to spare. An exquisite, artistic blood bath.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
A bit too lame for my likes...
p-stepien7 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Costello (an overly plastic Johnny Hallyday), owner and head chef of a French restaurant, arrives to Macau on news that his daughter was in terminal condition after being attacked at home by gunmen. The remaining casualties are her husband and their two children. Obliged by his daughter to inflict revenge on the perpetrators Costello disembarks on a mission of vengeance. Unfortunately for him he has no knowledge of who is guilty of the crime, whilst he himself has limited detective capabilities as he has a bullet lodged in his brain which impairs his short term memory (especially in regards to facial cognisance). Per chance he is witness to a murder committed by three contract killers. Instead of handing them over to the police Costello decides to hire them to aid him in his deadly mission...

One immediately comes to ask why such a movie ever made it to Cannes (in the main competition to boot). Yes, it is stylish and some of the action sequences have many thought put into them. But all in all the characters are bland, vague and stereotypical, while the script never delves into more cerebral subject matter. Even though the opportunities were ripe for the taking. In one scene it turns out that the killers have families and wives, but this never causes any moral dilemmas to Costello or his crew. In another scene one of the contract killers poses interesting questions: Can you avenge something you can't even remember? This question however only lingers for a while, as soon after we are knee deep in blood and any contemplative course of action is muted out by gunfights.

In the end Johnnie To seemed too focused on keeping the movie cool and tried hard not to divert attention from the fact that his sole aim is to make a straightforward revenge action flick. The saving grace of the movie are the thought-out action scenes and small details, which seemed to have consumed all the creative energy the scriptwriter had for this movie. That said the shoot-out in the forest is so lame, pointless and remarkably stupid that it actually had me laughing (never-ending bullets, seven grown men running around a forest with guns, but unable to hit an elephant with them and so on...).
4 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
This jacket belongs to you.
lastliberal5 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You know when you watch a Johnnie To film that there will be a whole lot of bullets flying. There is no exception here. The number of guns and bullets was enough for a small war.

Johnny Hallyday's family is attacked and his son-in-law and grandchildren are killed, and his daughter ends up in the hospital. He sells his apartment and restaurant and goes after the killers.

He hires three Triad hit men who happen to work for the man who set the hit (Simon Yam). The bullets fly as they fight it out with the killers in the forest at night and later when they are successful, but then Fung (Yam) goes after them.

Hallyday is all alone, but has a secret. He used to be a hit man himself. Nice to be able to finish the job.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
A waste of time
cix_one10 December 2010
Reading the plot line, I was expecting a cross between "Under siege" and "A history of violence" - movies which I liked both. What an utter disappointment! I guess I wasn't familiar with Johnny To's work, as the others who gave the movie high marks seem to be.

The movie doesn't even make an attempt at making sense! The plot, where it exists, is dubious. Action scenes start in the daylight and end in the middle of the night (or the other way round). Characters do things that don't make any sense. After the first half of the movie, I tried to watch it as a dark comedy, but even that angle failed. "Rambo, the deleted scenes" is probably a more apt description of this movie.
6 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Johnny To's 'Bullet Ballet'
changmoh25 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Aimed apparently at the European market, Johnny To's "Vengeance" is a well-choreographed 'bullet ballet' rather than a crime thriller. With French rocker-turned-actor Johnny Hallyday in the cast, the movie should attract the French crowd, not to mention J-To's fans worldwide.

As in most Johnny To flicks, the narrative, or substance, is secondary to its style. It's art that counts more than action.

The plot deals with a family, including two children, that is brutally gunned down by three hired assassins in Macau. All are killed except the French wife, Irene (Sylvie Testud) who is seriously injured. Enter Costello (Hallyday), Irene's father from France, who swears revenge. The craggy-faced Costello, a chef who owns a restaurant in Paris, accidentally runs into a trio of hit men (Anthony Wong, Lam Suet and Lam Ka-Tung) and hires them to track down his daughter's assailants.

Of course, the quest for vengeance is not as simple as we would have thought. There are a number of (mostly improbable) twists up in J-To's sleeve and these are revealed as the plot unravels. Costello, it turns out, has a complicated past. He has a bullet in his brain and his memory is fading fast. That is why this is the first time we see a bunch of hit men allowing their photographs to be taken on Polaroid camera.

J-To maintains a sense of wonder and curiosity throughout the first-half of the movie. Many elements of the plot do not make sense and strange coincidences abound. Still, we overlook these because J-To makes it clear that we are not to take the plot seriously. Indeed, the narrative is littered with humorous lines and crazy happenings.

J-To's regulars, Wong and the two Lams, understand the producer-director's style and they deliver performances that seem to be moving to a 'rhythm'. Hallyday reminds us of spaghetti western star Lee Van Cleef and an older version of Alain Delon (who, incidentally, dropped out of the project earlier). And although Hallyday's acting is 'wooden', he is still the centre of attention in this effort that seems to borrow a few ideas from "Memento". Simon Yam has a few scenes as a mob boss while Michelle Ye is commanding as a 'beach mom' with seven children under her care.

The climactic showdown, shot in a vast waste paper dump, looks more like a paintball game than a serious gunplay - with red 'paint' splashed all over the shooters. Played to an appropriate music score, it is cool MTV stuff. And then there is the trademark J-To 'food for thought' for the audience: "What good is revenge when you cannot remember any of it?" The verdict: An Asian-styled Tarantino shoot-'em-up. - By LIM CHANG MOH (limchangmoh.blogspot.com)
4 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
A disappointment
es002526 December 2010
I saw this movie trailer and i thought "this must be what Max Payne wasn't". The storyline was pretty cool "A french man looking for revenge in a foreign country", even the poster looks cool and promises a very dark violent movie.

But no. This movie is full of clichés, full of slow motion scenes, trying to make the assassins look cool. Too much fantasy for a revenge movie. Or you could think, this movie must be like Death Wish, but, again, no. Death Wish still rules on revenge movies. So this one can be easily forgotten.

This movie doesn't provide anything new.
6 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Part 3 of "Brotherhood of Assassin's" Trilogy
jimniexperience28 December 2017
Karmic collection of the hunter's being hunted . The final movie of his Brotherhood of Assassin's Trilogy .

A woman and her family is murdered , and she makes a dying wish to her father to avenge her . The father (who suffers from memory loss) hires hitmen to assist him .

Half shootout action , half mystery movie as they must solve this unknown assassination ... Story setting shifts from the Bright City Lights of Macau , to the underground of Hong Kong , to the familiar home of Wo and his wife from "Exiled" , where the final shootout begins ..
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Vengeance is a dish best served with Dim Sum...
paul_haakonsen19 July 2013
"Vengeance" ("Fuk Sau") turned out to be quite nice. This is another great Johnnie To movie, and he is definitely in his right element with this movie.

The movie is driven by a fairly good storyline, but also by the drama and action sequences, but ultimately it is the powerhouse performances by the actors in the movie that carry the movie most of the way. And here I must especially point out Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (playing Kwai), Ka Tung Lam (playing Chu), Suet Lam (playing Fat Lok) and Simon Yam (playing George Fung). I didn't care one bit for the performance put on by Johnny Hallyday (playing Costello), and I think the movie would have been just that much better had they cast someone else for that role.

The storyline in "Vengeance" is about Costello who hires Kwai, Chu and Fat Lok to get revenge on those who killed his daughter, her husband and their children. It is a race to track down the culprits ranging from Macau to Hong Kong.

Aside from my own personal dislike against the lead actor in the movie, then "Vengeance" is a definite watch movie, especially if you enjoy Hong Kong cinema.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed