Release Date: August 18th, 2006 (Cinema Village) by Magnolia Pictures.
The Cast: Mads Mikkelson, Leif Sylvester Petersen, Anne Sørensen, Kurt Nielsen, Øyvind Hagen-Traberg, Maria Erwolter, Karsten Schrøder, Dan Dommer, Sven Erik Eskeland Larsen, Jean Pierre Peuleve, Zlatko Buric.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
In Danish with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: When Tonny (Mikkelson) gets released from prison, he re-enters the drug world with his friend Kurt (Nielsen) and owes more money to drug baron Milo (Buric).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Just like in Pusher, a pusher gets into serious trouble when they get heavily indebted to tough drug baron Milo. Fresh out of prison, Tonny starts working for his father, a.k.a. The Duke (Petersen), a powerful gangster. He and his friend Kusse-Kurt purchase 80,000 Danish kroner from Milo, but end up flushing it all down the toilet when they incorrectly assume that the police are about to bust down on them. Now, Tonny needs to come up with the money or else Milo will have him killed. Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn not only maintains enough suspense, but also includes some dramatic tension regarding Tonny and his ex-girlfriend, Charlotte (Sørensen). She tells him that he is the father of her baby, which may or not be true but certainly raises the stakes for Tonny if it’s indeed true. At the same time, Tonny tries, unsuccessfully, to win the approval of his father—i.e. by buying their relationship through with a stolen Ferrari as a gift. Mads Mikkelson shows plenty of range in his acting abilities here, especially during the dramatic scenes which balance out the many action scenes—they are just as bloody as they were in Pusher. Director Refn does an amazing job with the lighting while using yellow, red and some green. He uses a lot of red during a raunchy scene at a brothel which makes this seem somewhat like an artsy porno film. The rest of the scenes have an appropriately gritty look. Fortunately, Pusher II is much more than just a visually stylish film thanks to an organic script by Refn which keeps you involved in Tonny’s complex, dramatic situations without a single scene that drags or that feels remotely redundant or contrived.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s somewhat moving how Tonny yearns to put his life back together by facing the commitments of a relatively stable life, such as his relationship with his father and his own potential fatherhood. Obviously, given that he has been in the drug world for quite some time, he’s quite incompetent in those important parts of life. He definitely needs rehab.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Visually stylish, engaging and surprisingly moving with a strong performance by Mads Mikkelson.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
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