There's a reason most movies that feature "turning the other cheek" are porn. Revenge sells better than forgiveness. When a supervillain kills your spouse and banishes your children to the spider dimension, it doesn't make for a very good film if you just move to the forest and think about stuff quietly for a few years. Of course, in real life, few people are determined enough to actually draft insane, Tarantino-style revenge schemes and unleash them on the world.
Namely, these few people.
5Mariya Oktyabrskaya Avenges Her Husband By Buying A Tank And Terrorizing Nazis
In 1943, Soviet housewife Mariya Oktyabrskaya got a letter from the military informing her that her husband had died in the Battle of Kiev two years earlier. Mariya didn't shed any tears over her loss. The only thing she wanted to shed was Nazi blood. So she sold all her belongings and contacted the military with an offer: She would honor her husband's memory by buying them a brand new T-34 tank to wreck Nazi shit.
She had one stipulation: She would be the one driving it.
Via Lock, Stock, and History
It's a sitcom-worthy setup, but Mariya intended to be the only one laughing.
The State Committee of Defense smelled a juicy propaganda stunt and agreed. After a few months of training, 38-year-old Mariya rolled onto the battlefield in her personal tank, which she had named the Fighting Girlfriend.
Motto: "No, really, I'm fine."
Male officers initially suspected that her vagina would impair her tank skills. However, they soon learned never to express doubt in an angry woman controlling several tons of mechanized death, as they witnessed her tear through the Second Battle of Smolensk at the head of her unit, leaving a cloud of smoke and Nazi bits in her wake. She handled her tank like a veteran, driving headfirst into enemy fire and tearing through the opposition with ease. A few weeks later in another battle, a German shell broke her tank's tracks and the Fighting Girlfriend got separated from the rest of the unit. She and her crew jumped out of the tank and started repairing it in the middle of the battle, keeping the enemy at bay with their guns.
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Meanwhile, you can't change your windshield wiper fluid.
Presumably, the Fighting Girlfriend would have singlehandedly won the war and would still be rampaging across Germany today, had an errant piece of shrapnel not knocked Mariya Oktyabrskaya down in the March of 1944 while she was once again fixing the tank in the middle of a battle. She succumbed to the wound two months later, and by October she was elevated to the status of Hero of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was a pretty rough place; you generally don't survive the "hero-making" process.
4Eliahu Itzkovitz Tracks Down And Befriends His Family's Killer, Then Executes Him
In Gangs Of New York, a young man tracks down his father's murderer, becomes friends with him, and eventually reveals his true intentions to kill the guy. It's not a far-flung idea: During World War II, young Eliahu Itzkovitz saw his entire family murdered by a Romanian guard in the Chisinau Ghetto, and later did much the same thing to said guard.
All Itzkovitz knew of his nemesis was his face and last name -- Stanescu. Yet he nursed his hatred for the better part of a decade, until fate finally recognized the makings of a good action movie. While serving in the Israeli Army in 1953, Itzkovitz learned that Stanescu had joined the French Foreign Legion and was somewhere in Indochina. Realizing this was his shot at revenge, Itzkovitz went into full Batman Mode. He arranged a transfer to the Israeli Navy, only to desert in Italy. He made his way to Algeria, joined the Legion, and went through their insanely rigorous training. Yes, he trekked through half the world and joined the goddamned Foreign Legion based on nothing but a vague rumor that Stanescu was there. That's dedication.
Calling ahead to confirm didn't gel with the whole "revenge quest" vibe.
Having completed his training (and gaining lots of handy murder skills in the process), Itzkovitz managed to get deployed in Vietnam, where he told his commanders that he should be stationed in Stanescu's unit because he had history with the man. The commanders failed to register the ominous thunderclap after those words, assumed they were friends, and accepted. And so Itzkovitz found himself sleeping in a tent next to the man who murdered his family.
"Eliahu must really care about his equipment. Every time I see him,
he's outside my tent, sharpening a knife."
Stanescu didn't recognize Itzkovitz, which the latter used to his advantage by becoming one of his most trusted comrades. Soon, they were laughing, bonding, and volunteering for patrols together. Finally, during an ambush by Viet Minh forces one day, Itkovitz's chance came: They were separated from the rest of their squad, and took cover in the mud.
"Stanescu," Itzkovitz called out, "I'm one of the Jews from Chisinau!"
It's ... not the best vengeful one-liner, but we imagine it got the point across. If it didn't, the fact that Itzkovitz's followup action was to empty his Tommy gun into Stanescu's chest definitely did.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
He thought speaking in bullets was better than a pun. We tend to agree.
Stanescu's death was pinned on the enemy. Itzkovitz served the remainder of his Foreign Legion stint and returned to Israel, where he was immediately slapped with a desertion charge. However, upon learning his story, the court gave him the lightest possible repercussions they could get away with (one year in prison), presumably because they didn't want to be the villains in the sequel.