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Vengeance (Fuk sau) Reviews

Page 1 of 13

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2012
Apparently Johnnie To is a big deal, but this is the first I've ever heard of him or his work. All I really knew about this was that Ebert gave it a rave review, and it sounded kind of intriguing.

Well, now that I've seen it, I can say that I think Ebert was wrong.

What we get here is the story of a French chef and former assassin with a failing memory who travels to Hong Kong and Macau to avenge the murders of his daughter's family with the help of a few hitmen he meets along the way.

It's a typical revenge film, but also has a lot of artistry to it. Problem is, it's just a run of the mill genre exercise that also happens to be pretty slow and boring, and not really that engaging. I didn't really care for the characters or what was happening, but at least the film looks nice, has some well executed action setpieces, and some striking violence.

That's pretty much it though. It was kinda disappointing on several levels, but it also doesn't help that I recently watched 2/3 of "The Vengeance Trilogy", and was far more impressed by those than I was by this ho-hum actioner with distracting accents and dubbing, and all around inconsistencies in the sound department.

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2012
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 HK 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 Zhang Yimou's poetic martial arts films. It could 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 cheesy sentimentality that marred them wisely removed.

Super Reviewer

December 1, 2009
To does it again, and again, and again. Clever play of cultural exchanges, the right ammount of dialogues, the right ammount of action. To could direct a commercial about tea and make it the most badass thing ever. There should also be a national day to celebrate the greatness of Simon Yam all over the world.

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2009
Johnnie To's Vengeance is nothing out of the ordinary for a Hong Kong crime thriller. Nothing out of the ordinary in Johnnie To's universe to be more specific.The 1 hour and 50 minutes isn't exactly a walk through the park, despite it's simple plot. The pacing is considerably slow, but Johnnie To's cinematography keeps the film afloat. While the characters lack background, the story successfully builds up the comradery between the protagonists, which is necessary since much of the film spends time with them as they carry out their mission.The bullet ballet action sequences are a mixed bag and it is the final 30 minutes that disappoints the most. Nonetheless, they are still a good watch.It is nice to see a combination of French, Cantonese, and English dialogue; however, this also hurts the film. The dialogue does get plain and it comes across blandly as the actors deliver some of their lines. The film centers around Johnny Hallyday, but the trio of Anthony Wong, Ka Tung Lam, and Lam Suet are the more interesting characters to watch.There is no question that Vengeance does have its flaws. Fortunately, To's style is enough to overcome them.

Super Reviewer

March 6, 2012
When it comes to Johnnie To I usually enjoy his action movies and the way he tell a story with the camera. Though this is similar to his other work and lack any surprise, I still found myself being amazed by it.

Vengeance is about a French chef (with a memory problem) who swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Hong Kong. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia. Now since I've seen Johnnie To other movies I knew what to expect from pacing, but it story really didn't standout from his other work. Now this is about a French chef who loses his memory while trying to revenge and these type of characters have been done better. What we do get is the usual well told story, though at points our protagonist isn't always realistic as a character. It's a fascinating revenge story with interesting characters, but you won't be surprised if you seen Johnnie To other movies.

What also stays the same is the cast, now I don't have a problem with this because they have yet to give a bad performance. The same with the always spectacular cinematography which is always a high point in Johnnie To movies. The locations in this movie are filmed so breathtakingly well that I actually wanted to jump through my T.V. screen and go to that location. As for the action sequences they have purpose and meaning with the story and I always enjoy it when Johnnie To films a action scene because it's done so well.

Vengeance is a movie that won't surprise any Johnnie To fan, but it will provide the entertainment you expect from him. While the main character may come out uninteresting and unrealistic at times, he is a fascinating protagonist that stands out from other in these genre.

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2011
In "Vengeance," Irene(Sylvie Testud) has just barely survived a brutal attack that claims the lives of her husband(Vincent Sze) and two young children. In the hospital, she asks her father, Francis(No relation to Suzie or Elvis) Costello(Johnny Hallyday) to avenge her. The problem is he does not know his way around the neon lit streets of Macao well enough to dodge the questions of Inspector Wong(Maggie Siu), much less put together any kind of plan. So, he hires local help in the persons of three hitmen, Kwai(Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), Chu(Ka Tung Lam) and Fat Lok(Suet Lam), that he encounters after they complete a job for their boss, George Fung(Simon Yam).

"Vengeance" is a stylish, violent, yet derivative, movie that has little new to say on the subjects of violence and revenge. However, it does have some great set pieces and Johnny Hallyday who is adept at playing both imposing and soulful, proving that a hat definitely makes one look more like a badass. On the emotional side of the equation, Costello and Irene have a close relationship as he was the one who showed her how to protect herself when she was younger while his backstory is not exactly the one I was expecting. The men that Costello hires may not win any humanitarian awards any time soon but they live by a code that is broken by the gang in the opening moments. So, with all the blood shed, it might also be surprising to hear how much food brings people together here.
Ryan M
Ryan M

Super Reviewer

July 21, 2011

Interesting color schemes. Nice usage of lighting. Truly kick-ass action sequences. I like Johnnie To's "Vengeance" because it contains all three. I almost loved the film; none the less, it's quite great. I'm not sure if one would call it a masterpiece, but all I can really conclude from it after finishing it is: man, that was AWESOME! And yes, AWESOME, with the big, radical capital letters. I enjoy a traditionally and skillfully made revenge flick, especially one from Hong Kong...and France. I'm always in the mood for these films; I'm always in the mood to smile at masterfully crafted, bloody, relentlessly violent action scenes. When the fools of Hollywood can't impress me, I turn to foreign countries for worthwhile films, and I'm almost always glad to do this.

The film is sort of a cross-breed between "Memento", "Unforgiven", and "Oldboy". Whether it is intended as some kind of sly, slick homage to all three of those films, I'm not certain; and I don't need to be. The story involves a former-chef named Francis Costello (Johnny Hallyday) who hungers for vengeance after his daughter and her family is assaulted in their home by three mysterious men. The woman's husband is killed; although she survives, although is suffering injuries in the hospital. This is where Costello meets up with her, and promises that he will find her assailants, and kill them.

Now, this is where things get interesting. Costello hires a trio of high-class hitmen, who he first meets whilst incidentally overhearing one of their very own hits (which is, if you must know, one which involves killing their bosses unfaithful lover). After gearing up with fire-arms and with the other men at his side, Costello is ready to delve deep into the world of violence once again, as it was hinted that he had a past of guns and blood, but was hoping to leave it all behind him. Fat chance, given the sticky situation he is in now.

As can be expected, Costello hunts down the home-invaders, tries to kill them and only succeeds after a few failed attempts. But at least I can say that each "failed attempt" was a beautifully shot, energetically staged one. There's one shootout during the nighttime, and it takes place in the woods. Great scene. There's another fantastic moment in which the enemy assassins hide behind...I didn't know what the hell they were, but from memory, I believe they looked like hay barrels. Another great scene. Basically, the gun-fights are some of the best I've seen in a long time; which is good. It's a good, nice feeling to experience something new and particularly exciting. "Vengeance" gave me a certain kind of rush that cannot be often found in most films, so in that sense, it's a treat not only stylistically, but also as an experience all-together. It's pretty damn cool.

But can a film be "cool" and also "great"? I suppose so. There are plenty of films that I have seen and loved that could also be called "great". For instance, "The Social Network" is hip, accessible, and indeed, "cool". But it's also compelling, flawlessly crafted, and unforgettable; much like "Vengeance", but just a wee bit different and just a wee better. Anyways, I can't truly compare them.

Johnnie To is, quite possibly, very good at making films such as this one. I wouldn't know (yet), given that I haven't seen any of his previous pictures. But honestly, I'd like to; this one was pretty darn good. The direction is pitch-perfect. The filmmaker, To, focuses a lot on cinematography, but is also able to weave an impressively old-fashion revenge tale. It's not a perfect or entirely original one, but it's all that I needed for an entertaining and passionately made night at the movies.

Another thing I strongly admired was the performance of the film's star, Johnny Hallyday, a popular French singer. I'm sure he wouldn't be everyone's first-choice when it comes to a revenge-seeking father, but I tell you; he does so well here, that you lose the ability to care. He's really in to his character, and his performance...and the intensity that he gives off, on an atmospheric level. "Vengeance", as an all-around film, is half-style, half-substance, and 100% bad-ass. And that's probably all the reasons why you should see it.

Super Reviewer

December 15, 2010
The French Al Pacino gets his revenge... his boring, boring revenge.

Super Reviewer

December 4, 2010
Very solid Hong Kong revenge flick. This ones a slow burner for sure, which builds great tension and gives the movie a lot of atmosphere. When it does boil over into a barrage of violence the shoot outs are nothing short of stunning. The shoot outs themselves bring to mind several classic Spaghetti Western films. The whole film is shot very stylishly and is great to look at. The themes of honour and revenge are very poignant but never heavy handed, making this a lot more intresting than it would have been in another filmmakers hands. This was my first run in with Johnny To's work but I think I'll definently seek out some of his other work in the near future.
June 10, 2014
Cool gun fights, not a very engaging story, though. It fails to give us characters to root for and a well done bad guy to hate, being a revenge movie and all. All of that stuff in the film is just sort of perfunctory.
February 20, 2013
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.
July 1, 2012
Vengeance movies come and go, this was about average really despite using a different take on it(memory loss). Loved the Hong Kong-Macau setting, everything else, just so-so.
July 22, 2014
This is by far the best Hong Kong film I ever seen.
July 5, 2014
Ultra stylish action movie that has substance to spare. The plot may be too linear but the man does it capture the grit and the suspense perfectly.
February 11, 2014
To's film is choreographed violence and mayhem! It's stylized gangster gunplay and blood spray ballet! The film has a wicked twist that sets the film apart from the rest!
November 29, 2013
We should have killed the white guy.

A French chef with a checkered past discovers that members of his family, including the children, have been brutally shot up and murdered by a gang. The chef hires three mafia assassins to help him find those responsible and gain revenge. While the gang believes they can easily dispatch of this problem, the chef and assassins may be more than they bargain for.

"He took a bullet to the head."

Johnnie Toe, director of Blind Detective, Exiled, Drug War, Running out of Time 1 & 2, The Heroic Trio, The Royal Scoundrel, and The Iron Butterfly 1 & 2, delivers Vengeance. The storyline for this picture may seem straightforward but definitely contains several unique elements, awesome shootouts and great action scenes. The acting is very good and contains Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Simon Yam, and Sylvie Testud.

"I just wanted the parents dead, and you know me..."
"And we know you."

I watched this film off Netflix after finding it while scrolling through the foreign film list. I can tell you this is an awesome action picture (one of the better ones I have seen in some time). The shootouts were creative and fairly intense and I found myself invested in each character. Overall, this is an awesome action picture worth adding to your DVD collection.

"I am looking for my daughter."

Grade: A
Christopher P.
March 23, 2013
All for one and one for all...

"Vengeance" takes a left turn from most revenge pictures when we find that our hero needs help from the most unlikely source. Normally, the bad guys don't get to be the heroes in films, but here they are saving the day and guiding the film's moral compass.
In the film, a former assassin turned chef hatches a plot for revenge against the men who slew his family. The chef, played by Johnny Halladay, is a mysterious Frenchman named Costello, with a flair for the unorthodox in everything he does. He dresses like a GQ cover model, speaks fluent French, English, and Chinese, and doesn't bat an eye when surrounded by a room full of people who want to kill him. His memory is slipping, so he won't be able to carry out his plot without the help of three men who nearly killed him one night in a ritzy Hong Kong hotel.
The trio are high level hit-men for the Triads. One, is a seasoned veteran. The second is the jolly portly comic relief. And the third, acts as the groups "Leoglas". Together, they are a lethal tour de force. The seasoned veteran is played by Anthony Wong in a scene stealing performance.
Costello offers the trio the opportunity to work for him. He will pay them handsomely and will give them his restaurant in Paris. They accept not only for the money, but because they feel its the right thing to do. The foursome bond quickly after a dinner conversation where they learn they share the same values. The trio are also intrigued by the kindhearted Costello, as they peel back the layers of his past.
The most interesting aspect of the film is the developing friendship among the foursome. They are four very different souls, but share a common goal and similar principles. They are united by their histories of violence and share war stories with one another. The film's excellent script allows us to get to know each characters and why they remain so loyal to one another in the face of unspeakable dangers. They adopt a similar philosophy to the "All for one and one for all" philosophy found in "The Three Musketeers," a novel written by Alexander Dumas. They don't yell the saying aloud, but infer their trust in one another with a simple smirk and nod of appreciation.
Director Johnnie To expertly blends a compelling story with great visuals. The action is slow and methodical. There are two gun battle scenes that have a civil war-like feel to them-- The first is shot for shot over a long range in the dead of night. Film Critic Roger Ebert asks, " Is it a matter of honor that Hong Kong shooters sometimes advance on each other in full view, blazing away, or are they sure who's a lousy shot?" I think To believes in the former. The second battle, is a unique sequence were our heroes and their antagonists roll huge paper blocks to shield them in a bloody firefight.
This is a true Art House film --i.e. films like "Drive (2011)-- as every shot looks like it could belong in a painting. Hong Kong has never looked so interesting. There is one shot (similar to the one pictured above) where we follow Costello walking in the rain among neon lit signs in a seedy part of town which may symbolize his transition back to the gritty underworld, his first nature. It's one of the best shots in a film with many great shots.
The violence is intense at times, but it serves as high art. It's very realistic, as we see our heroes getting shot in nearly every gun battle their involved in. They have to stop, rest, and repair themselves as their enemies constantly breath down their necks.
If I ever made a film, it would be in the style of To. In fact, If I could ever make one movie in my whole lifetime, it would be this one. I admire its courage, its resounding direction, and its magnificent story. I love every shot and every line of spoken dialogue. I love its heroes, and their thought provoking philosophies on the dynamics of revenge.
"Vengeance" is a gem of a film that can be found on Netflix right now. I highly recommend it.

Grade: A
March 1, 2013
The script is as straight forward as the title. The performances of all the asian actors is great, only music relic french star Johnny Halliday does a bad performance. A bad casting choice from Wai Ka-Fai and Johnnie To, too bad. Not a must see.
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