Nothing is more badass than the revenging vengeance of a salary man.
In a lot of ways, the bounty hunter with the heart of gold plotline has been a tried and true story that has been beloved by fans of action movies. From classics like Bladerunner and The Good, Bad and the Ugly to recent favorites like All About the Benjamins and Rundown audiences are intrigued by the world of bounty hunting. Now, what if you took that idealized perception of bounty hunting and put a scrawny little salary man looking weiner in the main role? You would get Revengeance. It’s a story of the lanky and wussy looking bounty hunter Rodd Rosse, the one-man posse, who gets embroiled in an assignment from Senator Deathface to capture the Katniss Everdeen lookalike Lana and take back a package that she stole from him. But as Rodd continues his search he finds his heart of gold sparkling and after hearing her tragic backstory concerning her family’s biker gang origins he, his mom and Lana set off to take down Deathface’s web of lies.
Revengeance was initially giving me a very different impression than what I saw in the movie. When you hear a name as cheesy as Revengeance what comes into your head? Those gory over the top B-Movies like Machete or Lee Hardcastle’s Ghost Burger, where the narrative is more in place to drive the audience to each gory set piece. However, Revengeance is not anywhere close to being like that despite the name. Only one scene near the end shows much gore and it’s done in such a cartoonish way it’s not really over the top like in the example films I listed. Not sure how to feel about that though. On one hand, the lack of gore opens the movie up for more audiences to see it who might be turned off by gore. On the other though definitely an over the top violent nature would allow for more insane visuals to entice the viewer as for where it stands now the visuals are very inconsistent.
This is the artistic brain child of Jim Lujan and Bill Plympton and you may remember Bill for his sketchy style used in mockumentaries like Hitler’s Folly and Weird Al Yankovic’s music video Don’t Download This Song. It’s a very raw and expressive style that you rarely seen utilized nowadays as with animation many animators strive for clean and concise looks in their animation. Jim Lujan on the other hand would be best known for his animations done online and short films that have been through the short film festival circuit like Cherries in the Snow, Party Warriors and BOOYAH. The last two also functioning as prequel pieces to Revengeance as they follow two side characters, Booyah and Gary the clerk. In terms of animation quality, Jim’s is far stiffer than Bill’s is and that transfers a lot over to the film itself.
The look and style of Revengeance are the scratchy stiffness of Jim’s animation put through the filter of Bill’s expressive and fluent sketch style. At first, I was very displeased with that, don’t get me wrong when it comes to animation I’m of the mind if the animation suits the tone of the narrative being told than even the ugliest style can work well. Admittedly uglier looking films like Aachi and Ssipak, Nova Seed and Fritz The Cat used their more grungier styles to reinforce the tone and emotion they want to convey with their settings and visual presentation. This is why I brought up my initial impression that there would be more gore as a gory flick done in this style would better contextualize the brutality of it by downplaying itself by presenting its gore in such an over the top and inconsistent art style. But we should look at what the film is rather than what I pictured it could be and the style still works to frame the surreal events throughout the movie and make it flow from a narrative perspective.
If I were to really compare this movie’s narrative and tone I’d say it’s like a mixture of the bait and switch protagonist narrative of Big Trouble in Little China, coupled with the surrealism and over the top nature of The Blues Brothers with its inclusions of a crazy cult, insane car chases, and really stereotypically cartoonish bounty hunters. From Big Trouble, I see parallels between Rodd Rosse and Jack Burton, in their own tales where they are placed in a central leading role they are comically made to luck like bumbling doofuses in comparison to the movie’s true main characters. In Big Trouble that would arguably be Wang Chi but in Revengeance it is indisputably Lana who takes most of the narrative’s driving force under her wing and runs with it. Her theft of Deathface’s secret is what kick starts the plot, she pulls Rodd into the mess deeper by revealing the truth behind everything and then goes off on her own to face off with each bounty hunter that comes for the price on her head. In Rodd’s story, he gets in tussles with his bounty hunting rival ace but other than that every scene he is chased around, beaten and captured over and over again waiting for someone else to save him, most embarrassingly and badassingly of all his senile mother.
Initially, I thought that sort of main character role reversal would make the story fall apart but like with Big Trouble, Rodd’s dual role as main and supporting character lets him give off more of the funny dry humor that works when he’s in either role. Plus, this duality keeps the plot constantly moving so I never felt at all bored while watching which to me was the movie’s biggest danger now that the visual presentation wasn’t exactly hitting the mark. In the end, though Revengeance competently tells its absurd revenging vengeance tale with odd and eye catching visuals to boot. I can’t say that it’s a great movie as the animation and visual presentation leaves a lot to be desired and may turn away most but as a unique flick for an animation junkie like myself then Bill and Jim don’t disappoint.