Once Upon a Time in Venice

Once Upon a Time in Venice (also known as LA Vengeance in the UK) is a 2017 American action comedy film directed by Mark Cullen in his directorial debut, and co-written with his brother Robb. The film stars Bruce Willis, Jason Momoa, John Goodman, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen, Adam Goldberg, and Jessica Gomes.

Once Upon a Time in Venice
Once Upon a Time in Venice.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMark Cullen
Produced by
Written by
  • Mark Cullen
  • Robb Cullen
Music byJeff Cardoni
CinematographyAmir Mokri
Edited byMatt Deizel
Distributed byRLJ Entertainment
Release date
  • June 16, 2017 (2017-06-16)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$735,353[1]

The film was released in a limited release and through video on demand on June 16, 2017, by RLJ Entertainment.


Los Angeles-based private detective Steve Ford (Bruce Willis) lives a care-free life. After performing a favor for a friend, Ford runs afoul of a local gang. The gang's leader Spyder (Jason Momoa) seeks revenge and steals Ford's dog. In order to recover the dog, Ford is forced into a sequence of convoluted and intertwined tasks across the Venice area.[2]



By May 16, 2015, Bruce Willis was cast to star in a comedy playing a Los Angeles private detective whose dog is stolen by a gang.[3] Mark and Robb Cullen would make their directorial debut on the film based on their own script,[2] and they would also produce the film along with Nicolas Chartier, Zev Foreman, and Laura Ford, while Voltage Pictures financing and selling the film at Cannes.[3] In June 2015, Jason Momoa, Thomas Middleditch and Famke Janssen joined the cast of the film, Momoa to play the gang leader who forces Willis' character to do some jobs for his dog, Middleditch to play Willis' assistant in his operation, while Janssen would play Willis' sister-in-law.[2] Later on June 30, 2015, John Goodman, Stephanie Sigman, Adrian Martinez, Kal Penn, and Emily Robinson round out the remaining cast of the film, Goodman playing Willis' best friend, Sigman playing Momoa's character's girlfriend, Martinez playing the owner of a local pizza store who wants to help Willis' character, while Penn would play a grocery store clerk.[4] On July 13, 2015, Adam Goldberg was set to play Lou the Jew in the film.[5] Next day on July 14, 2015, four more joined the cast of the film, including Tyga, Ken Davitian, David Arquette, and Victor Ortiz.[6]

Actor Ralph Garman was meant to play a role in the movie, but he revealed on his Hollywood Babble-On podcast that his character was written out of the film when Bruce Willis refused to shoot a scene between them. The Cullen brothers offered him another role, and again, Willis declined to shoot the scene. The next day, the producers of the film stated that the scene needed to be cut, leaving Garman without an appearance in the film. The story mirrored that of his co-host, director Kevin Smith, who had similar stories of Willis' behaviour during the filming of Cop Out.[7]

Principal photography began on June 29, 2015, in Venice, Los Angeles.[8] The film was shooting under the working title Going Under.[9]


In April 2017, RLJ Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film.[10] It was released in a limited release and through video on demand on June 16, 2017. It was released in the UK as LA Vengeance.[11]


Box officeEdit

Once Upon a Time in Venice was released on Jun 16, 2017 (limited) and totaled $735,353 in combined international box office.[1]

Critical responseEdit

Once Upon a Time in Venice received an 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 38 reviews and an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Once Upon a Time in Venice has a little more of a spark than typical late-period Bruce Willis tough guy movies, but it's still a steep, disappointing tumble from his best work."[12] Metacritic gave the film a score of 28 out of 100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[13]

Craig D. Lindsey of LA Weekly stated that Willis' performance was "a sterling example of how a lazy star can make a bad movie even worse."[14]


  1. ^ a b "Once Upon a Time in Venice". Box Office Mojo. Amazon. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kit, Borys (June 16, 2015). "Jason Momoa, Thomas Middleditch and Famke Janssen Join Bruce Willis in Action Comedy (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Jaafar, Ali (May 16, 2015). "Bruce Willis Re-Teams With 'Cop Out's Mark And Robb Cullen For Private Investigator Comedy- Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fleming Jr, Mike (June 30, 2015). "John Goodman & Bond Girl Stephanie Sigman Added To Voltage's Untitled Bruce Willis Comedy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Pedersen, Erik (July 13, 2015). "Dianna Agron Lands Lead In Indie 'Hollow In The Land'; Adam Goldberg Joins Bruce Willis Detective Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Hipes, Patrick (July 14, 2015). "Bruce Willis' Detective Comedy Adds Four More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  7. ^ Smith, Kevin, Ralph Garman (August 14, 2015). "Hollywood Babble-On #220" (Podcast). SModcast. Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (May 16, 2015). "Cannes: Bruce Willis Starring in Detective Comedy". Variety. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  9. ^ "Bruce Willis and David Arquette filming "Going Under"". ContactMusic.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 4, 2017). "Bruce Willis' 'Once Upon A Time In Venice' Sells To RLJ, Sets June Release". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (April 4, 2017). "Bruce Willis' Action-Comedy 'Once Upon a Time in Venice' Lands at RLJ Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  12. ^ "Once Upon A Time In Venice (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  13. ^ "Once Upon A Time In Venice Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  14. ^ Craig D. Lindsey (June 16, 2017). "Once Upon A Time In Venice - L.A. Weekly". LA Weekly.

External linksEdit