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. Best avoided really.

I Saw The Devil - Unrated Crime Horror 2010 Eng Kor Eng-Subs 720p [H246-mp4]

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.

Alone - trailer

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.


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.

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-13 om 22.18.40

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).


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.

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-13 om 22.06.49

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.

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-11 om 21.48.43

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

(Thanks Paul C.)