Vendetta is about Trausti (Ingó Ingólfsson), a young Icelander who returns home after spending seven years with the French Legionnaire. When he arrives home hoodlums are harassing his mother and younger brother. Later they are both killed by the same hoodlums, who turn out be running a prostitution ring and a strip-joint. Understandably Trausti is not pleased and seeks vengeance, kicking ass and taking names along the way.
If you’ve watched the trailer and don’t find it obvious already then, yes, Vendetta is a really bad movie. This is a movie that was made for almost no money by relatively inexperienced people. In fact it was mostly made by one man, writer-director-co-producer and star, Ingó Ingólfsson. He apparently spent 4-5 years and a few million Icelandic kronur from his own pocket (which would amount to about $7000, about the same as Robert Rodriguez spent to make El Mariachi, not counting inflation). Ingólfsson deserves kudos for perseverance, at least he made a frigging movie and that with his own money, which is more than most can say.
But when you spend money and time to see a movie you want it to be good, or at least worth your time. But Vendetta is not what you would call a classically or objectively good movie, it’s strictly amateur hour in almost every way. In fact it’s so bad that most of it is pretty enjoyable, and often hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons. Some of that hilarity might be lost on non-Icelandic speaking viewers, though, as it derived largely from the dialogue which might not sound as bad when translated, or dubbed.
Where to begin? Oh yes, the script. The script is just plain god awful, with a cliché-ridden plot that makes little sense and is hopelessly contrived with characters behaving like idiots just to advance the plot (how do the bad guys catch the prostitute who just escaped from them? Well, she decides to go out of hiding to buy some tea! And of course they just happen to be in the neighborhood at that exact time!). The dialogue is consistently laughable (our hero and his partner walk up to a staircase, “There’s a staircase” Ingó says.) and much of it completely superfluous.
The camerawork is also really amateurish, as if the filmmakers didn’t seem to realize there’s such a thing as white balance and not much energy seems to have spent on things like color correction. Everything just looks flat and entire scenes are in just mono-color (see the still here at the top). That might have been a stylistic choice but it’s more likely that the filmmakers just didn’t know how to operate the camera properly, as it doesn’t look good at all. Several shots are also extremely grainy or even pixellated. The sound is sometimes okay, but mostly it’s just too loud and too obviously done in post. All the kicks and punches sound like someone is being hit with a lamp-post rather than a fist or a foot and the bone-crunches that often follow are hilariously over exaggerated.
Then there’s the acting. Hardly anyone who acts in this movie has the barest whisper of acting ability. With the acting being either utterly stiff or totally overblown, the already cheesy dialogue (everyone talks like a middle-aged Icelandic sailor in the 60’s) gets even cheesier. The most noteworthy bad performance is probably that of Hrafnhildur Aðalbjörnsdóttir who’s an Icelander playing an Easter-European prostitute. She speaks broken English the entire movie with her accent wavering hilariously between pseudo-Slavic and Icelandic. Ingó himself comes off as one of the better (or least bad) actors in this, though he still has a few laughable line deliveries, even channeling Steven Seagal a bit by sometimes speaking in a low, soft manner… before headbutting someone six ways to Sunday. Hell, Trausti is often just as sadistic as Seagal’s characters tend to be. At one point he even dismembers a couple of bad guys (we don’t see it, but it’s pretty clearly implied) and puts them in a freezer! In the same scene we get to hear a Wilhelm scream, which is always a good thing.
The best bit is probably the scene when one of the bad guys decides to go take a dump in the middle of a crisis situation! And of course he gets his comeuppance while in the middle of a shit. What a way to go!
Of course you might say that this is a film that’s not to be taken seriously, but almost all of it is played so dramatically (including the weird music score) and the film is dealing with the rather serious subject of prostitution. So it’s at least taking itself a little bit seriously, which just makes it even funnier.
But this movie mostly seems to be about the ass-kicking and that does a little better than the rest of the film. Sort of. Ingólfsson does come of as a bit of a badass (he clearly has a background in martial arts) and you do sort of believe him as a one-man army. He certainly knows how to pull off a round-house kick. A lot of ass is kicked is this film but the exaggerated sound effects just make them goofy and the editing is often really fast and awkward, clearly to hide how fake everything is.
The main mistake this movie makes is simply that it’s never a good idea to make a no-budget action movie. An action movie is all about the action and when it looks cheap and silly it just doesn’t work. The idea behind the movie is not a bad one per se, but it would have needed a bigger budget and maybe decent actors (though it’s not a must, bad acting is usually a part of this genre) to really work.
Director Ingólfsson seems to have a kernel of an idea of how to do things like frame shots and keep the story moving but he’s hampered by lack of resources and money, bad actors and the fact that he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of talent in the screenwriting department.
One last thing worth noting is that in one scene a poster for the classic bad movie Plan 9 From Outer Space is glimpsed. Does Ingólfsson perhaps realize how bad his movie is and wanted to allude to that by paying tribute to the most famous bad movie of all time?
Final Verdict: Basically, what we have here is an amateurish no-budget film that’s laughably bad. It’s a top candidate for the title of “Worst movie ever made”. It does have entertainment value, mostly (it’s often kinda slow in between all the action), but for all the wrong reasons. So if you’re in the mood for a hilariously bad B-movie, this would be a good choice. The director also deserves some sort of kudos for having actually made the movie on his own and with such limited resources but this film might at most convince Z-movie straight-to-DVD producers that he can do a dumb action movie. It would be interesting to see what he can do with a bigger budget and a few actors who can actually act but this doesn’t show much in the way of promise. This really is a zero-star movie but it gets half a star for Ingó’s enthusiasm as well for including a Wilhelm scream and a Plan 9 From Outer Space poster.