Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.
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Nicolas Winding Refn
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Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian killed a man and went on the run. Now he manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation. Respected in the criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty. When Julian's brother murders an underage prostitute, the police call on retired cop Chang - the Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the father to kill his daughter's murderer, then 'restores order' by chopping off the man's right hand. Julian's mother Crystal - the head of a powerful criminal organization - arrives in Bangkok to collect her son's body. She dispatches Julian to find his killers and 'raise hell'. Written by
Chang's outfit in the movie is what retired cops in Thailand wear. See more »
After the fight of the opening scene, the arm of the winner is raised by the referee and the defeated fighter is picked up by his helpers in blue. When the camera cuts to the other side of the ring, this is shown again. See more »
It's a shame that people seem to be missing the point behind this film. However, on one's first sitting, it's easily done - Refn's style and pace may fool you into thinking this is a dull, slow film. The long, seemingly unending shots of actors staring into the distance may make you question Mat Newman's (the editor) talent. But what you really need to do is to look deeper into the film, because behind the extreme violence, the beautiful cinematography & production design and questionable reality, there is an interesting message. That message really depends on how you interpret the film, and differentiates from person to person.
For instance, Vithaya Pansringarm's character can be perceived in a variety of ways - a silent angel out to balance the injustices of his city, a delusional man who thinks of himself as God, or a vengeful cop who is simply out to do his job. Ryan Gosling's Julian can be seen as a confused soul who is out to avenge someone he clearly despised, someone who is bullied into action by his persuasive mother. Kristen Scott Thomas's excellent portrayal of Crystal, Julian's thoroughly unpleasant mother, acts as a wedge between the two of them. And the motives of each of these characters are questionable throughout.
It's certain that Refn's ninth feature film is not a simple crime drama as you might have expected. Its twists and turns will almost certainly surprise you, and it will linger on your mind long after the credits roll. It makes you question what was real and what was not in a way I've never seen in cinema before. And it really is a shame that a lot of people seem to completely miss the brilliance and genius behind it.
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