The basic definition of a Vigilante is: “a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate); or a self-appointed doer of justice”.

In the world of cinema the vigilante has been one of the most popular character types. From B-movies to big budget films these kinds of stories about people who go on personal, ‘mad as hell’ vendettas to exact revenge on evildoers are extremely exciting. At FC, these are definitely some of our most favorite types of movies, so we’ve put together a collection of 25 of our most loved titles from the vigilante subgenre. Filled with tons of action, attitude and adrenaline, they’ll have you cheering on the big screen heroes (or anti-heroes) as they get righteous payback on the worst kinds of scum sucking villains!

The Crow
The Crow (1994, Dir: Alex Proyas)

A year after he and his fiancee are murdered, Detroit rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) rises from the grave and takes on the macabre persona of “The Crow” to exact revenge on the criminal organization responsible.


Death Wish
Death Wish (1974, Dir: Michael Winner)

Mild mannered New York City architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) becomes a one man crime fighting squad after his wife and daughter are brutally attacked in their apartment.


Darkman (1992, Dir: Sam Raimi)

A gentle scientist named Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is attacked by a group of thugs and set on fire but survives. Thought to be dead, Westlake sets up a new lab in an old factory and uses his technological knowledge to design a skin replicating device to make various disguises to help fight back against the criminals in the city.


Billy Jack
Billy Jack (1971, Dir: Tom Laughlin)

American Indian halfbreed and hapkido expert Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin) protects a southwestern hippie school from a town full of violent rednecks who want it shut down.


The Boondock Saints
The Boondock Saints (1999, Dir: Troy Duffy)

Two Irish-American brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are called upon by a higher power to do the Lords work and fight organized crime in the Boston area.


The Exterminator
The Exterminator (1980, Dir: James Glickenhaus)

When his best friend is murdered, a Vietnam vet named John Eastland (Robert Ginty) becomes a flamethrower wielding vigilante and tries to clean up the mean streets of NYC.


Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver (1976, Dir: Martin Scorsese)

Vietnam veteran and cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) slowly begins to lose his mind while planning to fight crime in New York City.


Savage Streets
Savage Streets (1984, Dir: Danny Steinman)

A sexy Los Angeles high school girl named Brenda (Linda Blair) seeks revenge on a gang of punks who raped her sister.


Falling Down
Falling Down (1993, Dir: Joel Schumacher)

A government defense engineer (Michael Douglas) who has lost his job and family has a mental breakdown involuntarily turning into a mad as hell vigilante while walking home through the streets of Los Angeles.


High Plains Drifter
High Plains Drifter (1973, Dir: Clint Eastwood)

A mysterious drifter (Clint Eastwood) arrives in the small Western town of Lago and confronts the secretive, weary residents who were responsible for letting the brutal killing of a sheriff go unanswered for.


Vigilante (1983, Dir: William Lustig)

A factory worker and average guy Eddie Marino (Robert Forster) goes crazy when his wife and child are attacked by a street gang. He decides to seek vengeance and gets extra help from some other men including Nick (Fred Williamson) who brings his own form of swift justice to the thugs.


Fighting Back
Fighting Back (1982, Dir: Lewis Teague)

Mini market owner John D’Angelo (Tom Skerritt) is sick and tired of the pimps and drug dealers ruining his Philadelphia neighborhood so he starts up a Guardian Angels style organization to fight back against the criminal elements.


Kick Ass
Kick Ass (2010, Dir: Matthew Vaughn)

A teenager (Aaron Johnson) obsessed with comics decides to become a real life super hero but soon finds out it’s not as easy or as glamorous as it looks. He also learns he’s not the only colorfully clad vigilante in town!


Mad Max
Mad Max (1979, Dir: George Miller)

In a post-war future Australia, police officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) gets off from fighting the psychotic automobile driving nomads that cause destruction on the outback roads. When some of these criminals kill his wife and young child, Max goes mad and sets out to get revenge in his suped up muscle car.


Man on Fire
Man On Fire (2004, Dir: Tony Scott)

A disallusioned former CIA operative John Creasy (Denzel Washington) visits his colleague (Christopher Walken) who gives him a new direction in life as a bodyguard in Mexico City. He arrives and is soon hired by a wealthy businessman (Marc Anthony) to guard his young daughter Pita (Dakota Fanning) because of the high rate of crime. During being pick up from school, Creasy is shot, Pita is kidnapped and held for ransom. Creasy recovers from his wounds and vows to get Pita back and kill all those responsible.


Magnum Force
Magnum Force (1973, Dir: Ted Post)

In this twist on the standard vigilante story, a group of rogue policemen begin murdering known criminals in the city of San Francisco as a form of pure justice. The officers then try to induct the rebellious police officer Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) into their secret organization, but he refuses the offer, after which he is targeted to be killed, but Harry fights back against them.


Taken (2008, Dir: Pierre Morel)

When his daughter is kidnapped while on a European vacation, a government security ops expert (Liam Neeson) uses his remarkable military skills to find her.


V For Vendetta
V For Vendetta (2006, Dir: James McTeigue)

In a dystopian future London, A Guy Fawkes masked freedom fighter called V (Hugo Weaving) rescues a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) from being raped. V then recruits her into helping him fight the fascist government by any means neccessary.


Coffy (1973, Dir: Jack Hill)

A nurse (Pam Grier) decides to seek out the drug dealers who are responsible for hooking her younger sister on heroin and kill them.


Death Sentence
Death Sentence (2007, Dir: James Wan)

When his son is killed and his family are targeted by a street gang, Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) tracks down the killers and exacts brutal revenge.


Kill Bill

Kill Bill (2003-04, Dir: Quentin Tarantino)

An assassin (Uma Thurman) who gives up the lifestyle when she finds out she is pregnant, is later discovered by her former boss (David Carradine) and her ex-colleagues who beat and shoot her point blank. She miraculously survives the attack and after awaking from a coma, goes on a bloody rampage of revenge.


Sin City

Sin City (2005, Dir: Robert Rodriguez)

The visually stunning big screen adaptation of Artist Frank Miller’s cult graphic novel neo-noir series about criminals and intertwining tales of revenge.


Punisher: War Zone

The Punisher: War Zone (2008, Dir: Lexi Alexander)

In this third and most violent film adaptation of the Punisher, the skull logo wearing vigilante (Ray Stevenson) wages a war against the disfigured mob boss known as Jigsaw (Dominic West).The film was produced under the Marvel Knights label (movies intended for more mature audiences).



Oldboy (2003, Dir: Chan Wook Park)

After being kidnapped and held in captivity for many years, Oh Dae Su (Min Sik Choi) is finally released and tries to track down the people responsible to get revenge.


The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight (2008, Dir: Christopher Nolan)

The caped crusader (Christian Bale) is challenged by “The Joker” (Heath Ledger) a nihilistic criminal who will stop at nothing to cause anarchy and mayhem in Gotham City.




Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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8 Responses

  1. Spawnpoint34 says:

    the world needs vigliantes

  2. Jack Deth says:

    Excellent catch with ‘The Exterminator’. A Glickenhaus quickie that wavers between too much information (Mercury tipped pistol rounds, booby trapping light bulbs) and pretty awesome.

  3. texshelters says:

    Inglorious Basterds, who took vengeance for the Jews of Europe to punish the Nazis. See: Bear Jew

    Fine list, by the way.


  4. Alexey says:

    Strangest description of “V for vendetta” ever. Go watch it, you will be surprised.

  5. Seababe says:

    No doubt!!! I still think Charles Bronson played the best, and most realistic vigilante ever….

  6. Zack Morgan says:

    Connan the Barbarian

  7. Doc Swoop says:

    John Wick?

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