The Return of the Curse of the Creature’s Ghost

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsnavely on September 16, 2007

Secretly, I meant for the last post to be a longer discussion about the difference between a tale of revenge (which I like) and a vigilante story (which supposedly, I don’t like). I’ve seen several trailers for what I call vigilante movies. I have been yelling at the screen that this is evidence of political trickle down from cowboy justice straight to DVD.

There’s a couple problems.

One: I’m not really convinced the Bush Admin is responsible for this stuff.

Two: I’m having trouble telling the difference between a revenge story and a vigilante story.

And last, of the movies I call vigilante stories I can certainly find a couple I like. For example, while I find Seagal to be painfully bad, and Bronson only tolerable when taken as camp, I really like a lot of Clint Eastwood’s early stuff. Dirty Harry is pretty fun; and Unforgiven (Eastwood’s first stint as a director), the story of a gunslinger helping a prostitute get revenge, is one of my favorite movies.

So really, I’m having a tough time with this. I like revenge movies, not for the part where the characters actually get revenge, but for the montage like sequence in which they have to build themselves up to get what they want. Movies which acknowledge that the successful completion of vengeance is the least interesting act of the story are more suspenseful that those which don’t.

A lot of Kung Fu movies have such absolutely silly training montages that they invert the climactic sequence of the movie and instead put the final fight scenes to shame. Tarantino realized this in his revenge epic, Kill Bill, and so no awesome fight scene at the end, just a lovely soliloquy.

But really the all time greats of the revenge tale have to the Japanese. My favorite is Masaki Kobayashi’s film “Harikiri“. The reason it is a great revenge movie… and this is a spoiler… is because you don’t realize it’s a revenge movie until the very end. Which means the entire “montage” sequence in which the main character goes from being weak to powerful, happens so subtly you almost don’t realize it until it’s over. The fact that the audience gets it just before the other characters in the movie do adds to the tension. Finally, the revenge itself isn’t really fully fulfilled. Anyway, I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s a great movie.


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