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76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 5 Critics What's this?

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7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

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  • Summary: A French chef swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Hong Kong, during which her husband and her two children are murdered. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 10, 2010
    90
    Both newcomers to Mr. To and longtime admirers should be prepared for a master class in directing.
  2. 88
    A formula thriller done as an elegant genre exercise. Johnny Hallyday was brought in by To as a last-minute sub for Alain Delon, and could have been the first choice: He is tall, weathered, grim and taciturn.
  3. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    75
    To's smooth, balletic style, noirish lighting schemes and compositions are made for the big screen, and because his work is (sadly) not distributed well in the United States, take this opportunity to see it in a theater.
  4. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Dec 10, 2010
    75
    Few directors make action movies with the pizazz of Hong Kong's Johnnie To, although his films rarely get runs in New York. That's all the more reason to see his Vengeance.
  5. 50
    More than once does To's grandiose imagism miraculously grant this rote thriller a gleam of the sublime, as in a trash-dump face-off staged as an epic field maneuver, or a campground shoot-out timed to the fickle light of the moon.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 24, 2013
    8
    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, humour 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.
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