Some movies feature intense violence that really stays with us after the final credits stop rolling. These films use dark intensity, and the most primitive instincts of man, to grab our attention and make us think. Here is our list of top ten violent films –
10. Kill Bill (Vols. 1 & 2)
Quentin Tarantino directed these films with his usual gusto, casting Uma Thurman as the Bride, a vengeful former member of the Deadly Assassination Squad. When The Bride’s ex-lover, Bill, betrays her, turning her wedding day into a scene of epic bloodshed, The Bride vows revenge. These films display Tarantino’s excellent grasp of cinematic pacing, as well as slick, creative martial arts scenes that amp up the visual impact. The first film, and its equally grisly sequel, featured a dizzying pace of violence and aggression, as The Bride continues her quest for the only thing she wants – to kill Bill.
9. Rambo (2008)
John Rambo went back into action in this riveting, blood-soaked action film. Rambo had decided to live a quiet, peaceful life in Thailand, but his conscience led him to assist Christian missionaries as they attempted to aid the Karen people of Burma. The whole Burmese region was a war-torn powder keg of crime, murder, and injustice, and Rambo could no longer look the other way. He took the missionaries upriver to Burma, in his own boat, and they had little idea what bloodshed and horror awaited them there. Rambo tried to protect them, in his own, inimitable fashion. The river journey echoed Heart of Darkness, with its ominous sense of doom, and the battle scenes were harsh and realistic.
8. Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg is a master, able to develop characters and create impact within any context. When he directed Saving Private Ryan, his genius was at its peak. His depictions of the D-Day invasion at Normandy on June 6th, 1944, will go down in history for their gritty realism. As usual, Spielberg tempered the terrible violence that the infantry suffered as they fought for the Allies with a sensitive storyline that made us care about the characters. Excellent casting and superb acting made this very violent film resonate with all of us.
7. Kingdom of Heaven
The bloodshed and brutality of the Crusades is the backdrop in Ridley Scott’s epic adventure film, Kingdom of Heaven. A simple blacksmith, played by Orlando Bloom, finds out his father is a Knight, who is traveling on horseback to Jerusalem. His father invites him to go on the quest, but Bloom’s character, Balian, refuses. Only after Balian kills a village priest does he agree to go along. Eventually, Balian becomes a protector of Jerusalem, fighting against the Saracen king, Saladin, and his strong army. Ridley Scott creates a visually dazzling world full of swordfights and hand-to-hand combat, set within the Holy Land itself.
6. Natural Born Killers
Mickey and Mallory don’t kill for profit, or politics: they do it because it feels good. In Natural Born Killers, the male/female duo, played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, begin a gruesome killing spree, down Route 666, as their sociopathic desires drive them onward. As Mickey and Mallory continue to kill, they become a media sensation. This dark, satiric film, directed by Oliver Stone, aims the spotlight at America’s unhealthy fascination with crime, murder, and serial killers.
5. War Of The Worlds
Steven Spielberg attempted to faithfully capture the vision and genius of H.G. Well’s novel (The War Of The Worlds) in this tense, taut film. The terror, indecision, and even selfishness, of humankind were underscored as the aliens began their massive invasion of the planet. Tom Cruise did an excellent job in this film, playing a character who grew and matured into a protector and a hero, from more immature beginnings. The gory violence and dripping blood that seemed to pervade this film was frightening and disturbing. In fact, some critics and moviegoers were shocked at how very dark this film was.
Helen Of Troy is best known in myth and history as “the face that launched a thousand ships”. Her beauty brought forth the passion in Paris, the Prince of Troy. By giving into his love for Helen, who was married to King Menelaus, and taking her to Troy, Paris set an epic battle in motion. The forces of King Menelaus and his powerful, royal brother amassed to seek revenge. In this film, legions of Greeks and Trojans fell to their deaths as the two armies fought for dominance. This long, involved tale also featured Brad Pitt and Eric Bana as hunky soldiers (Achilles and Prince Hector). Girly Orlando Bloom played Paris, The Prince of Troy.
3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Return Of The King – Return of the King begins with the search for Mordor. Frodo and Sam use the Gollum to guide them, and the relationship between the two Hobbits suffers accordingly. Sam does not trust the Gollum, and Frodo seems to grow ever closer to the strange creature. In time, Frodo faces the true nature of the Gollum and hurls him into a crevasse. From these tense beginnings, Return of The King becomes an even darker quest, as our heroes attempt to reach Mount Doom. Many battles and many fierce creatures await the Hobbits as they face betrayal, great armies of bloodthirsty Orcs, and the power of the Ring.
This film was a triumph, a perfect blending of plot, atmosphere, action and dimensional characters. Director Ridley Scott created an eerie, ethereal atmosphere in the opening battle sequence, with amazing cinematography and stunning realism. Russell Crowe brought a rugged, believable quality to his portrayal of Maximus. As well, a stellar performance by Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, the bitter, jealous son of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, was a highlight of this violent spectacle.
The director of 300, Zak Snyder, also directed the remake of Dawn Of The Dead in 2004. His experience in the horror genre was put to good use during this adaptation of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s graphic novel. Bloody combat and the war cry of “Sparta” were the heart of this film, which told the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, in 480 B.C. Gerard Butler displayed his range as he portrayed the King of Sparta, who leads his army against the advancing Persians. This role represented a real change from past roles he played, such as The Phantom Of The Opera. In 300, epic bloodshed is the price that must be paid for a more democratic future.