Vengeance (2009)

Action / Crime / Thriller


Vengeance photo
A man named Costello arrives in Hong Kong, ostensibly to find work as a chef. In fact, he is here to avenge the death of his daughter and her family, who were savagely slain by hired killers. Costello is uncertain of his past, but he is sure of his present. He immediately sets about hiring a band of professional killers to find and hunt down his daughter's murderers...
© 2012

Film Review

Film poster
Johnnie To, one of Hong Kong's most highly regarded filmmakers, links up with Johnny Hallyday, France's premier pop icon, and the result of this cultural clash is an explosive gangster film that is stylistically brilliant but almost totally lacking in substance. To clearly intended Vengeance to be a homage to the gangster films of Jean-Pierre Melville - why else would he name the main character after the hitman played by Alain Delon in Le Samouraï?  Whilst the director manages to recreate the ambiance and tone of Melville's films - superbly so in some sequences - there is very little beyond this to sustain the spectator's interest.

The film would have had more going for it if more care had gone into the screenwriting. As it is, the characters are comicbook stereotypes, the plot contrived and predictable to the point of ridicule - in fact there is virtually nothing to engage the intellect, just endless self-conscious spectacles of carnage punctuated  by long passages of plodding tedium. Hallyday was hired only after Alain Delon turned down the lead role, and it's not hard to see why. The ageing popstar looks uncomfortable, and a tad ridiculous, in a film that makes effective use of his imposing silhouette and sombre personality but offers little in the way of character depth. Vengeance would seem to be a rather hollow exercise in imitation for the sake of imitation.
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