Vengeance (2010)

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A French restaurateur travels to China and enlists the help of a trio of guns for hire to track down the killers who murdered his daughter’s family.

Johnny To once again employs his elegantly understated direction and visual flair to create a Hong Kong style gangster movie from the classic “heroic bloodshed” school. It lifts elements from many sources, particularly a laconic anti-hero very much in the vein of Takeshi Kitano, bloody Peckinpah-esque shoot-outs and even a Memento style plot device to create a film that may not be original but oozes style in a similar way to Chan-wook Park’s own Vengeance trilogy. Highlights include some brilliantly orchestrated action sequences, the pick of which being a beautiful looking running gun battle through a moonlit forest that’s almost reminiscent of the poetic martial arts films of Zhang Yimou and their ilk.

Vengeance could certainly be accused of style over substance, but the style is beautiful and the result is something akin to a classic John Woo gangster film with all the clumsy sentimentality that marred them wisely removed.

8/10

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