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Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands Reviews

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TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2014
Continuing the story from the first film, Nicolas Winding Refn's follow-up Pusher II builds upon what the first film did, and follows the release of Tonny from prison and his return to the criminal underworld in Denmark. Brilliantly acted and directed, this is an engaging drama that will definitely please fans of Refn's original work. Building on the formula established in the first film, Pusher II amps up the stakes, and presents yet another raw, gritty portrait of the Denmark criminal underworld. What stands out here is that Nicolas Winding Refn crafts a film that tells a thoroughly engaging story, and focuses more on great characters and plot than visuals. What he does is make a standout picture that doesn't have mindless thrills, and it's a smart, thrilling picture that uses the power of telling a tense, memorable story that makes this sequel standout. Add to that, a tense atmosphere of raw power that elevates the tone of the movie, and it makes you feel as if you're in the film. Refn is a terrific storyteller, and he crafts a vivid, gritty crime drama that is engrossing from the moment it starts. With simple ideas, Nicolas Winding Refn has crafted a stunning follow-up to his debut, a film that ranks up there with some of the finest sequels ever made, and he is clearly understanding of the genre, as he displays a knack for telling a pulse pounding, unforgettable epic of crime. This is cinematic art, a film that oozes with style and story to really grab your attention, and it does so by having a director who clearly captures the chaos of the criminal underworld in a way that makes for a truly unique piece of cinema. Nicolas Winding Refn has always made powerful films, but with this sequel, he steps up his game, and really he hasn't topped it, not even with Drive and Only God Forgives because there is something present here that just makes this film standout in the crime genre.
Al S

Super Reviewer

May 22, 2013
It's better than the original, Pusher works all sorts of magic, it redefines the criminal underworld genre. It is not a gangster story but a down and dirty story of criminals and their attempt to be successful but ends up to be their finish. It shows a gritty and realistic side of this world and pulls no light punches what so ever. Director, Nicolas Winding Refn continues to show great depth to a chilling and ugly atmosphere and characters to go along with it. It's harsher than the original, yet you have more affection for it. Mads Mikkelsen carries this film perfectly, he starts out from the first as this awful addict-drug pusher and now is trying hard in his own way to do the right thing. Mikkelsen is tremendously honest, terrific and bloody brilliant. It's stylish, energetic and has its own beat.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2013
Nikolas Winding Refn could have left the original Pusher film alone but thankfully he had enough talent and enough guts to go on and complete a trilogy. It continues the with the story of Tonny but involves many of the same characters from the first film who then go on to appear in the third film, tying up the trilogy quite nicely. The great thing about the Pusher trilogy is that as entertaining as it is, it never once portrays the criminal underworld as something glamorous or desirable. Broken people lead broken lives, Mads Mikkelsen's performance is intense and nothing short of compelling.
gor41
gor41

Super Reviewer

February 26, 2011
Gritty urban drug drama with a finely judged performance from Mikkelson balancing his character's aggressive front and deep seated insecurities - you end up empathising with him despite his repellent actions.
axadntpron
axadntpron

Super Reviewer

February 18, 2011
I always cite this film when people say that sequels are never as good as the original. Refn, in serious debt at the time, creating sequels that not only took these films in a new direction, but gave them a heart. This film is equal parts aggressive, intense, heartbreaking, and thoughtful. It is a great film.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

December 21, 2007
Pusher 2 takes up the story of seedy urban crime in Copenhagen with Frank's best friend Tonny who is released from jail with no idea what to do with his life and finding himself a father. Tonny is like a poor white trash version of Fredo Corleone; the weak link in the criminal chain. He brags about his sexual prowess and plays with nunchucks while watching porn, but is in fact a rather pathetic, aimless figure who has been made impotent by his incorrigible coke habit. It has the same feel of the original film in its brutal realism, documentary style and lack of humour, but the central figure is realized rather more completely, and although he is emotionally stunted and incapable of taking control of his own life you do have some small amount of sympathy for him when you see the family and environment he has had to grow up with. The supporting characters also provide more drama and insight into his life and most importantly, it has a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to the final act.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

January 8, 2009
the second film in the pusher trilogy follows frank's buddy from the first, played by mads mikkelsen. tonny is a coked up and edgy loser who gets no respect. his efforts to impress his gangster father and deal with his new found baby son are heart wrenching. just as fast moving and intense as the first film and maybe even better
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2013
It's more Danes and cocaines, and Christmas just doesn't get any whiter than that in Cocainehagen! Maybe Nicolas Winding Refn saw that Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" was awesome when it came out the same year as the original "Pusher", even though it was four hours almost entirely of Shakespearian dialogue, so he must have figured that a Christmas release date was the secret to a good, overly talkative Danish drama... or something. I don't know, maybe those in charge of this crime thriller's release date have a morbid sense of humor, and I'm just stretching to try and figure out why in the world Refn is revisiting this property, you know, outside of the fact that the first "Pusher" had so much to say that it just couldn't get it all out in one film. Man, that film dragged its feet something fierce, and you know what, this film isn't that much better, though it is nevertheless better, probably because it focuses so much more on Mads Mikkelsen, who is awesome, by the ways. There you go, this sequel was made as a vehicle for Mikkelsen's awesomeness, and it only took a mere eight years... for fans of the first "Pusher" to finally wake up. Hey, it probably would have taken them longer to release this product if "King Arthur" didn't also come along in 2004 and leave Nicolas Winding Refn to uphold his duties as a Danish man of film and defend the integrity of Mikkelsen, whose awesomeness, to me, wasn't that watered down by "King Arthur", seeing as how I actually kind of liked the bloated Bruckheimer blockbuster... at least more so than 1996's "Pusher" and this film. There, people, I said it, and it's because stuff actually happened in "King Arthur", though that didn't stop Refn from trying to figure out some way to "push" out another one of these films, which I'm not cool with me, because, again, this isn't that much better, and yet, that just means that this film has some strengths as surely as its predecessor did.

The collaboration between Nicolas Winding Refn and cinematographer Morten Søborg continues with this sequel, and more money and experience behind the partnerships results in a sharper visual style, for although the photographic value of this film is only slightly better than that of its predecessor, definition is more relatively crisp, and color plays are relatively tasteful, thus creating some compliments to the immersive filming style that was found in the last film... to a certain extent. Relying on grit and shaky cam for realistic effect, this film's intentionally sloppy shooting style is probably more aggravating than immersive, due to limitations in directorial effectiveness, but with this film, there's more to catch your eye, and that makes what immersion value there is to visual style all the more absorbing. Immersion value works when Nicolas Winding Refn's direction works, and seeing as how there is indeed some immersion value to this film's style, that means that there are, in fact, effective moments in Winding Refn's thoroughly questionable directorial performance, which is slightly more celebratory of an atmospheric score - courtesy of the returning Peter Peter and Povl Kristian substitute Keli Hlodversson - and graphic imagery in order to establish some tension, and also gets a little less caught up in meanderings. Needless to say, this film still meanders to the point of collapsing as dull, unfocused and all around mediocre, but brighter glimpses into potential can be seen through more inspiration on Winding Refn's behalf as director. This, of course, leaves the film to at least border on decency, but not without the help of onscreen talent, which was the only consistent strength of the predecessor, and remains the only consistent strength in this installment, for although acting material is limited, most everyone convinces, and typically charismatically, with leading man Mads Mikkelsen being particularly effective in his portrayal of a drug pusher and junkie who will suffer some unexpected and unwanted turns in his generally relaxed and thoroughly questionable life. Not even the acting bites as hard as it could have, but there's at least some onscreen talent to keep you going at times, and while that doesn't quite cut it when it comes to saving the final product as decent, it's just one of a couple of highlights that bring the film to the brink of decency. Of course, like I said, that's just not enough, and no matter how much the film engages at times, on the whole, it distances, just as its predecessor did, partly, if not largely because the narrative is a mess even in concept.

The film's rather minimalist subject matter offers only so much meat to begin with, and that is really brought to your attention by this plot concept's exploring the same idea as its predecessor's story concept of intentionally meandering in an overly naturalist fashion that is too questionable to be effective, because even though this film is decidedly more focused and less do-little than its predecessor, it still pays too much attention to nothing outside of life being lived. This story concept very rarely works all that well, and it sure doesn't work here, being by no means helped by the limitations to likability within the characters who are focused upon too intensely, or by what intrigue there is to this subject matter's being diluted at this point, where there is a little more eventfulness, but not enough to keep this film from feeling too much like its predecessor, which was itself a little too familiar, following a formula that had been hit by plenty of questionable films by 1996, and was hit many more times between that year and 2004. No matter how questionable this "plot" concept is, way too many people still explore it, so on top of being as limp as a noodle that you leave in a boiling pot when you actually visit Denmark for a few days (Yes, there's that much water to vaporize in the pot), this film isn't even refreshing, and that makes for one seriously bland narrative concept, made all the more bland by Nicolas Winding Refn's taking too long to tell a familiar tale that was always to meander. No matter how do-little this plot is on paper, there's no getting past Winding Refn's script's monotonous excessiveness with filler, as well as material that, before too long, begins to convolute focus, when it's there at all, that is. Like I've been saying time and again, there is more focus to this film, and yet, there's still hardly any focus to this near-lifeless, tediously structured drama, which still would have been decent if Refn's direction didn't match the tedium of his script. The biting moments to Winding Refn's meditative direction are there, but man, they are very few and far between, being bridged primarily by a bone-dry atmosphere that dulls things down to no end, establishing considerable challenges to not only your attention, if not consciousness, but your investment. There is hardly anything endearing about this film's cold, paceless atmosphere, resting behind a do-little, if anything at all narrative, and that pretty much kills the film, maybe not to where it collapses into contempt, or even to the level of mediocrity as its even lamer predecessor, but nevertheless to where the final product falls flat as a sometimes well-done, yet generally uncompelling crime "thriller".

In closing, cinematography is a bit sharper, while Nicolas Winding Refn's direction retains its highlights, and performances retain their charisma, broken up by effectiveness, and that's enough to bring the final product to the brink of decency, but not enough to prevent a do-nothing story concept, made all the more tedious by a lack of originality and a wealth of meandering, unfocused material, backed by a punishingly dull atmosphere, from driving "Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands" into utter mediocrity.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

February 26, 2007
Pusher II is another downbeat, dreary and depressing film depicting the hell on earth that is the criminal underworld of Copenhagen. Unfortunately, unlike Pusher, the story isn't especially gripping or involving and things quickly become monotonous. The first hour in particular is heavy going, despite some good camera-work and honest performances. The last 30 minutes or so kick things into a gear as events start to spiral out of control, but there's no real pay-off. The characters are all completely detestable (the nickname of one is, aptly, Cunt) and the plight of protagonist Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen), recently released from jail discovering he is a father, is completely unsympathetic. Disappointing.
William G

Super Reviewer

November 24, 2006
Similar story to first one, but strong performances carry it.
Francisco  G.
Francisco G.

Super Reviewer

December 16, 2011
Not only is this second instalment better, it's also much more affecting than the first part showing how Refn grew since it.

Following Tonny the lowlife is a very gritty experience, you can't help but feel sorry for this pathetic fool but to root for him to make a simple smart decision on his life. Things go from bad to worse and Mikkelsen holds the role like a pro, showing masterfully the insecurities, fears and agressivness that the character requires.
September 29, 2013
This film follows Tonny, one of the side characters from Pusher, eight years after the events of the first film. The events that make us feel extremely sorry for Tonny feel artificial, thus losing the authenticity the original film had. The movie is very well made and well acted, although heavy handed. CHECK IT OUT
July 18, 2013
Sort of like Nicolas Winding Refn's "The Place Beyond the Pines", meaning that this time with great sex, violence, coke, neon and pornography comes great responsibility. Mads Mikkelsen's haunted face bears the expression of a world wronged and vengeful. Just as hypnotic as the first.
RicardoCraneo
September 24, 2011
Continuing on a tangent from the first Pusher movie sans the main character but with the same environment and more or less secondary characters. The series so far seems like a didactic character study however its grasp on harrowing reality encircling the criminal drug life is disturbing, telling and gripping. It touches on matters relating to innocence like infants amidst cycles of hedonism, corruption and addiction, and gives it a different, liberating spin as opposed to claustrophobic, panicky and guilty like how the first film revolved around. Admittedly it is less of a thriller and more of a drama I think compared to Pusher I but its shift in angle and viewpoint is innovative.
kklee3
September 28, 2008
the best of the pusher trilogy examines the conflicted and compelling low level criminal tonny as he tries to redeem himself by thieving and killing. it's violent, perverse, and nihilistic; a perfect triumvirate for this type of story.
abbywaynegacy
June 6, 2007
The second installment in the PUSHER trilogy, this time following Tonny on his troubled journey. The story, like the first film, revolves around a world of stealing, cocaine and the paranoia that comes with the lifestyle. Most of the characters we see are pretty screwed up in more ways than one. Tonny's desperate struggle to gain the love and acceptance of his father puts him on a tragic path. Like the first one, the ending is open ended and has a fascinating final image. Favorite scene: Tonny tries to make it with two hookers and it isn't working out for him.
aboccamazzo
July 19, 2014
8,5/10
Not as strong as the first one but mikkelsen is so good in here. Such a strong character
June 9, 2014
Mads Mikkelsen's performance of this gutless, spineless, poor excuse for a human being was so spot on even I despised this character!
April 10, 2014
What's the deal with sequels being better than the first movie????
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