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.
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.
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
Ryan Gosling underwent rigorous Muay Thai training for two hours a day, four days a week with Muay Thai master Kiu Puk, and a traditional Thai diet to train for this role. 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 »
Nicolas Winding Refn's new feature, Only God Forgives is a good film, his best offering I've seen so far. This is not only style over substance, but (like Spring Breakers) also style as substance. A grim mood is created through long stretches of brooding red lights reflected on faces, while the violent outbursts seem to be discharges of visually overcharged surroundings, with electricity built up after long silences with lots of eye candy, stylized framing and an exciting electronic/ambient score by Cliff Martinez. All of this underlines the desires, motivations, and emotional experiences of a bunch of messed up characters. So you could say that, the mood and the meaning are meant to be "the residue" of the style, just as Korine explained his intention for Spring Breakers. This is why both films are not empty stylistic offerings, but resonate on a deep affective level. And, because a non-narrative substance can be incorporated into the style, to pursue the ideal of style over narrative substance is not superficial per se. What is also positive, is that unlike Drive (and Bronson), the narrative substance that remains is not messy per se, just lightweight. Although the story is quite simple and pure in execution, it is certainly strange, abstract, and a little drawn out. Especially the beginning relies mostly on mood, leaving little time for traditional story-telling. This worked for me, but I can understand that many others find it tedious. There is a lot of ambiguity, mostly having to do with the mysterious motivations behind Gosling's character. He has the same elation on his face as in Drive, but more perverted and strange this time. Apart from this there are a few abstract/absurd elements in the story: for instance, certain characters meet each other in paradoxical and inexplicable ways. But to me this was more a matter of deliberate ambiguity and mystery than messiness. The film is also extremely violent. Not constantly, more like a series of intense hits after long silences. This is not primarily used to entertain or bludgeon the viewer, but more to convey the moral conflict going on in Gosling's character. And the final scene may have felt completely weird and ridiculous to many people (I heard much laughter in disbelief), but to me it made perfect sense, albeit in an absurd way, because it seemed to be the only resolution to the conflict going on in his mind. The song at the end just felt like the perfect continuation of the beautiful absurdity just before it.
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