Vengeance (2009)
A film directed by Johnnie To

Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Film Review

Vengeance photo
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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Film Credits

Directed by Johnnie To
Starring: Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Testud, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ka Tung Lam, Suet Lam
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