The story-line: Small-time gangster Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) is released from prison, but quickly returns to the criminal underworld and gets hired by his father "Smeden" (Leif Sylvester): a big-time gangster highly respected in the underworld. But Tonny has a hard time earning his father's respect, and on top of that, he discovers that Charlotte (Anne Sørensen): a girl he once had sex with, has given birth to his child. Tonny has a hard time making the right decisions, and one day he agrees to help his friend Kusse-Kurt (Kurt Nielsen) purchase heroin worth of 80.000 danish kroner from big-time pusher Milo (Zlatko Buric), but since they are high off cocaine and paranoid they accidentally throw the heroin in the toilet, as they think a police-man enters the room. Now they have a big problem. They have to get 80.000 kroner very quickly...
In 2004 Nicolas Winding Refn almost went bankrupt, because his previous film Fear X (2002) which was shot on a big-budget in Canada, did horribly in the theaters and at box-office. Refn knew that a sequel for Pusher would do very well (Pusher 1 was the most engrossing debut film ever of Denmark) and the universe of the film had lots of artistic possibilities - therefore he decided on making it a trilogy. And Refn very much proofed that it is possible to make artistically interesting films out of rather commercial interests.
It could be argued that Pusher 1 glamorized the gangster/drug underworld at times. This is NOT the case in Pusher II. Although Pusher 1 did show the decay of a cold man in a cold milieu, we never really got into his feelings. In Pusher II we get to feel the pain and coldness (even when Tonny himself doesn't). Pusher II is a docu-drama based on realism (like Pusher 1), and only three characters are real actors. The rest of the cast consists of people off the street, and this very much adds to its authenticity. They do a great job! The second half of the film has a few very beautiful artistic scenes (almost dream-like) that almost pauses the film and gives its audience time for reflecting. In the scenes we see very dominant red colors and the music is almost ambient-like. A great idea that works very well - even in such a realistic film.
Mads Mikkelsen, Leif Sylvester and Zlatko Buric do terrific jobs. They are (as usual) very professional and passionate actors. But the real surprise is the untrained street-actors. They add SO much to the realism and rawness of the film. Pusher II is shot on DV-camera with a hand-held style, but it's far from Dogme. Many scenes look terrific, and the playing with distinctive colors red and green works well. I also have to give credit to Peterpeter's great rock/80's synthesizer soundtrack. It really under-builds the scenes in a scary way.
I highly recommend Pusher II (and the rest of the trilogy) to everyone! A perfect example of an artistic film that actually works for all audiences! 9/10