Vengeance (2009) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Original Mandarin Title: 复仇
Release Date: May 20, 2009
Directed by: Johnnie To
Language: English, French, Cantonese
Music by: Lo Tayu
Starring: Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Wong, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Sylvie Testud, Michelle Ye
A blonde wife advises her children not to run under the rain while her husband, a chinese local returns from home. She was cooking spaghetti for dinner when someone rang at the door when her husband checked the peephole – a shotgun fired through the door without warning and shot to death by three unknown hitmen.
Forcing his wife and her two children into hiding upstairs in the master bedroom. Her children are kept safe inside the wardrobe while she gets her gun ready while one of the hitman lean against the wall and she began to shoot and it hits his ear. She was gunned down and her children saw her on the ground.The children has seen the hitmen faces and one of the hitman has no choice but to assassinate them.
The wife arrived in the hospital, still breathing but under paralysis circumstances. An elderly man touchdown in Hong Kong to visit the paralyze woman; who happened to be his daughter: Irene Costello (Sylvie Testud). The father spoke to her in French and she told him and she wants vengeance.
François Costello aka Mr. Costello (Johnny Hallyday) went on his own investigation seeking for hitmen for himself. Soon, he found Kwai (Anthony Wong), Chu (Gordon Lam Ka-Tung) and Fei Lok (Lam Suet) as his choice. Their reward would all his wealth and a restaurant in France. When asked about his background-he told them that he is chef but his former life was a hitman back 20 years ago. But his weakness is his illness that he might not remember anyone or anything he does.
Mr. Costello ran away from the scene and found himself loss and trying to recall his hitmen.
 

Mr. Costello (Johnny Hallyday) ran away from the scene and found himself loss and trying to recall his hitmen.

 

When their investigation starts to bear fruit, the hitmen who kills his daughter family is none other than fishermen: Wolf (Eddie Cheung Siu Fai), Python (Felix Wong) and Crow (Ng Ting Yip).
The standoff between the Mr. Costello’s hitmen and his enemies went awry when they get to escape. Mr. Costello was badly injured and Fei Lok got hit in his ass.
Kwai received a phone call from his potential client, George Fung (Simon Yam); who direct the hit on his girlfriend and her lover when he found out the affair somewhere in the scene. Mr. Fung then ask him and his men to attend to another group of hitmen who was shot by “3 chinese men and 1 white man” which brings them back to them.

Kwai, Chu and Fei Lok had decided to disobey their paymaster and helped Mr. Costello. Disagreement and disloyalty always ended up with the final showdown.


Later that night, Fung sends more killers to Kwai’s refuge in order to eliminate Kwai’s syndicate. A gunfight ensues, with the four men emerging victorious. As they escape, Kwai’s syndicate lose track of Costello, who is walking through a crowded street, seemingly lost in the night rain. He pulls out the Polaroid pictures that he took of the hitmen earlier, and tries to find them in the crowd. They meet again, but it becomes evident that Costello has a problem with his memory, and has rapidly forgotten who his friends are, but also what he is doing. The hitmen try to explain to Costello that he is seeking revenge for his daughter, but Costello does not recognize her, nor does he understand the concept of revenge.

The three men give up in despair, and take him to a beach where they meet a pregnant woman (Michelle Ye) with a group of children. Kwai gives her a stack of money and ask her to take care of Costello. Kwai’s syndicate return to Macau because they lost contact with Kwai’s cousin Tony who supplies their ammunition.

When they reach the landfill where Tony is living, they find him and his partner dying as they were tortured by Fung and his gang just as a large group of assassins sent by Fung show up and a huge gunfight ensues. Kwai, Chu and Fat Lok are killed. Costello and the pregnant woman learn of the shootout during a news report.

Late that night, while Costello prays at the beach, he has visions of his daughter, her family and the three hitmen he hired.

The next day, Fung is having tea in a public square surrounded by his subordinates. He sees a beautiful woman (Kwai’s pregnant friend (Michelle Ye)) having tea in the same square. As he tries to get her attention, a large group of children come asking him to buy charity stickers.

The children place stickers on Fung and his men. The pregnant woman leaves the square and meets up with Costello, then tells him that the man back in the square with the most number of stickers is Fung. Costello thanked her.

However, Fung turns out to be wearing a bulletproof vest. His subordinates help him run away from Costello. As Costello walks, he checks the bystanders for stickers, which tips Fung off to the fact that Costello does not actually recognize him, apart from the stickers he is wearing. Fung removes the stickers from his coat, and puts them on the jacket of a subordinate instead. This causes Costello to shoot Fung’s subordinates. Fung removes his coat with all the stickers and runs off.

Costello picks up the trenchcoat and shoots more subordinates who get in his way. Fung is finally the last surviving member, so he attempts to walk nonchalantly by Costello, relying on the Frenchman’s inability to recognize him without the coat, but as he is walking by, Costello sees a sticker on Fung’s tie. Both men reach for their guns fire at each other. Fung is hit and Costello demands that he put the coat on, which Fung refuses, so Costello shoots him in the leg.

In the end film, Costello is seen to enjoy the beach view with the children he met earlier.

Reviewer’s Note:
French pop icon – Johnny Hallyday, 66 is a famous icon in France. Hallyday, whose real name is Jean Philippe Smet is well-known legend as the Elvis Presley of France in the hearts of French people.

So what happens when Johnnie meets Johnny? Another fine masterpiece of film art was made to suspense us. The reason Hallyday was chosen to be a lead cast in the film is just one simple reason – he has the features of a old and retired hitman.

Johnnie To’s Vengeance (復仇) and Exiled (放‧逐) has shown much similarities in film theme. Almost like Sergio Leone’s trilogy of using the same cast but playing different roles.

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