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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
PHOTOGRAPHY

ONLY GOD FORGIVES

DVD review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  90 minutes, audio commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, director interviews, music featurette

VIDEO:  1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO:  English/ Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:  English SDH, Spanish

 

STUDIO:  Anchor Bay Home Entertainment/ Starz/ Radius-TWC/ Gaumont/ Bold Films/ Space Rocket Nation/ Motel Movies/ Wild Bunch/ Nordisk Film Shortcut A/S / The Danish Film Institute

RELEASE DATE:  10-22-1013

ONLY GOD FORGIVES is a combination of European art film, Asian crime movie, and 1980s Michael Mann movies and you begin to scratch the surface of what Nicolas Winding Refn has created with his latest movie which is a different beast from his previous movie DRIVE (which also starred Ryan Gosling).   In ONLY GOD FORGIVES, Ryan Gosling is Julian, an American fugitive from justice (for killing his father), who runs a Thai boxing club that acts as a front for his drug business.  When Julian’s brother, Billy, is killed by the father of the prostitute that Billy savagely murdered, his mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives to collect the body and she wants revenge.  Crystal is the head of a vast criminal organization and she is a ruthless woman who doesn’t realize she has set her and Julian on the path to go against Chang (Vithaya Pansringram)- a mysterious policeman who is like an angel of vengeance/ devil.   Chang has decided to clean up Bangkok of all of the underground brothels and fight clubs using his own methods of justice.  

 

ONLY GOD FORGIVES is an unconventional crime thriller that is a visual and audio mood piece.   Nicolas Winding Refn decided to tell the story through that way due to some dialogue to being very useful like one the actors pronouncing Angel of Vengeance as Angel of Wengeance which began Refn’s approach to subtracting the dialogue from the movie during the production and editing stage.  The ending is something that Asian audiences may appreciate more than Western audiences expecting a more conventional ending.   People expecting another film like DRIVE might come away disappointed since Nicolas Winding Refn decides to make each of his movies different from each other.  He fits the visuals and story to each movie he is telling.  DRIVE is different from BRONSAN as VAHALLA RISING is definitely different from those two films and ONLY GOD FORGIVES.  In this film, Ryan Gosling is another character who speaks with few words as he did with his performance as Driver in DRIVE.  Julian is a son with anger issues boiling underneath and he can’t even have a regular relationship as witnessed by his relationship with a beautiful Thai prostitute (Mai) who masturbates on a bed in front of him as he is tied down in a chair.  The moment where their relationship seems normal is when Julian takes Mai to dinner with his mother and later when they visit a karaoke club where Chang is singing.   Maybe Julian and his brother Billy were damaged by the way their mother raised them and they ended up not being able to have normal relationships ever since Crystal is one ruthless witch bitch.  That brings me to the ending which may leave some disappointed since it isn't the traditional Western ending as it goes for something bleaker as Julian is waiting for the moment he sees in his head.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Feature audio commentary with Writer/ Director Nicolas Winding Refn and Damon Wise- Refn discusses the movie’s themes and production with Damon Wise in this very engaging audio commentary track which plays off like a 90 minute interview.

 

Two Director interviews as Refn talks about Thailand with Mark Dinning and discusses genre films with Bruno Icher

 

Behind the Scenes featurettes:  THE DRUG TRADE, STAGING THE BROTHEL SCENE, FRAMING THE GUN FIGHT, “THE SWORD YOU EXECUTE PEOPLE WITH”, SLICING THE ARM, PREPPING FOR THE SHOOTOUT, THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, A FACE FOR RADIO, ON THE SETS WITH REFN, THE TONGUE, KENDO TECHNIQUES, “VIOLENCE IS LIKE SEX”-   12 behind-the-scenes featurettes which show various aspects of the pre-production and production process which are very interesting to watch as you see how Refn interacts with people and people love to work with him.   The 23 minutes of featurettes could have been crafted into one fantastic making-of documentary, but they are still some of the best behind-the-scenes moments I have seen on DVD as you see him talk to cast and crew including Ryan Gosling joke that Refn never said he had a face for cinema and Refn responds that Gosling has the face for radio and the internet.   Also you see Refn pick out the right sword for the character of Chang and he also plays with one of the swords to hit a water bottle off a pole in addition to Vithaya Pansringram talking about Kendo.

 

THE MUSIC OF ONLY GOD FORIVES WITH CLIFF MARTINEZ- the film’s composer discusses his musical influences, how he got involved in making movie scores, how he created the score, and how it is to work with Nicola Winding Refn.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  ONLY GOD FORGIVES is an interesting visual and audio mood piece from Refn, but people expecting another DRIVE may come away disappointed.  The extras are great and make you wish for more of them.

 

This review is (c)10-25-2013 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com

 

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