It’s hard to forget that scene from Oldboy (Oldeuboi, 2003). One hallway. A single take. Scores of baddies. And one man. With a hammer.
Forget handguns, knifes or samurai swords: in Korean cinema it seems to be de rigueur to use hammers as weapons.
Take The Chaser (Chugyeogja, 2008). What does the demented killer use on his victims? A hammer. Preferably in combination with a chisel, but he’ll do without if necessary. (A hammer also nearly kills him at the end, which would have been some kind of poetic justice.)
In the awful torture flick The Butcher (2007) the makers of snuff movies clobber their captives repeatedly with a hammer. Nasty piece of work, this.
In I Saw the Devil (Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da, 2010) Min-sik Choi could, after Oldboy, once again show his DIY skills in his first on-screen murder.
Intriguing and dreamlike Alone (2015) once again showed that a hammer is a perfect weapon for breaking and entering. Not just houses, but skulls as well.
How often do we see hammer-weapons in non-Korean films? I can think of a few examples. There’s Oldboy (2013) of course. The American remake I mean.
Then there is little known I Come With the Rain (2009). An international production, in which Byung-hun Lee wields a hammer as an execution device. Take a guess from which country he is…
British cinema is on the rise when it comes to sick hammer scenes. Example 1: Kill List (2011).
Example 2: Legend (2015). Crazy, sick & disturbing is what all these examples have in common, so mental case Ronnie Kray fits right in. The Gay Kray brings not one, but two hammers (and his teeth) to a pub fight.
Two hammers you say? We’ve seen that before, in The Raid 2 (2014). I’d be surprised if Hammer Girl(!) isn’t some sort of an homage by director Gareth Evans to South Korea’s favourite cinema weapon.
The latest addition to the Hammer Files is Lynne Ramsay’s brutal You Were Never Really Here (2017).
(Thanks Paul C.)