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.

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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.)

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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. Best avoided really.

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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.

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Intriguing and dreamlike Alone (2015) again showed that a hammer is a perfect weapon for breaking and entering. Not just houses, but skulls as well.

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How often do we see hammer-weapons in non-Korean films? I could think of just a few examples when I started this blog post a couple of years ago, but the list is growing with fresh additions. There’s Oldboy (2013) of course. The American remake I mean.

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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  which country this actor is from…

British cinema is on the rise when it comes to sick hammer scenes. Example 1: Kill List (2011).

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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.

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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.

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The latest additions to the Hammer Files* come from the normally gun-totin’ States.  One deals with a virus outbreak in a sealed-off office tower. The virus doesn’t kill people, it merely takes away all people’s inhibitions. Throw ruthless corporate characters, some grudges and a few weapons in the mix and what you get is brutal & fun Mayhem (2017). In it Samara Weaving (an actress I’ll be keeping an eye on) at one point wields a nail gun, but seems to think a hammer is much cooler.

Far less humorous is Lynne Ramsay’s brutal You Were Never Really Here (2017).

*This really is starting to look like a Internet Movie Hammer Database isn’t it? Also: this really starts to look like a 21st century phenomenon. I’ve no idea why. Gun fatigue perhaps?

(Thanks Paul C.)