Pusher Is Great, II and III are Oedipal excellence
Brendan M. Howard | Kansas, USA | 11/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's true, we've all seen crimes-go-wrong scenarios before. However, writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn does a wonderful job of focusing his camera on single characters in each film and bringing out the drama of crooks and pushers getting in over their head in some of the worst days of their lives.
In Pusher, drug middleman Frank tries to sort out a mess when he winds up owing too much to local drug kingpin Milo.
Pusher II plays like an Oedipal tragedy minus the mom, with Frank's friend Tonny taking center stage. Tonny gets out of jail and tries to ingratiate himself into the crime business of his cruel father with predictably disastrous results.
Pusher III returns to Milo, an important character in each of the previous films, as he ages and is challenged by new blood in the drug business and new challenges as he negotiates his daughter's 25th birthday party, her wanting to get in on the action, bad drug deals, prostitution and murder.
All three films play perfectly together, with recurring characters, similar themes and believable violence. The criminals are humanized in a way that doesn't let audiences off the hook, as with Trainspotting's reluctantly violent druggies. These are the dealers with cool heads who have chosen this line of work and do terrible things. Yet, at the end of the day or week, Winding Refn has let us walk in their shoes enough to see the fallibility and humanity in what 90 minutes before we might have regarded as unconscionable evil. If you want to sympathize with these characters, you'll have to admit you see a little darkness in yourself, too.
P.S. The tale of how Pusher II and III came to be is almost as cool as the films. It's covered in the documentary Gambler here, which follows him and his associates as they struggle to put together funding for the two films, not to get paid, but just to break even and climb out of moviemaking bankruptcy. Also cool are two featurettes explore how Winding Refn picked amateurs or almost-amateurs for most of the gritty roles in the last two films."
Gripping, moving, and well worth your time
David Chen | Lexington, MA | 12/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Pusher Trilogy is the anti-gangster film in very much the same way as Unforgiven was the anti-western. Nicholas Winding Refn has stripped down the gangster lifestyle and revealed it for what it really is: brutal, unforgiving, and unglamorous. The gangsters in these films don't live in mansions; they live in dirty apartments. They don't have parties in expensive clubs; they use run down restaurants.
Each film has its own main character who has to deal with what ends up being a catastrophically escalating series of events. The first film follows Frank, a drug dealer who runs into trouble when a deal goes sour. The second film features Mads Mikkelson (the recent "Casino Royale" James Bond villain), who plays an incredibly tragic figure; the film plays on "son tries to win his father's affection" themes, while simultaneously subverting them. The final film follows Milo, a drug kingpin who is propelled into a series of tragic choices when a shipment of cocaine doesn't come in as planned.
The three films are all great; a bit on the short side, but very effective. Many critics seem to think the second one is the strongest and I tend to agree with them, although the third film, "I Am The Angel of Death," has almost the same level of pathos. If you are a fan of films like "Scarface," "City of God," or "The Sopranos" (not a film, I know), then definitely give this one a look! The DVDs are in Danish (mostly) with English subtitles and Nicolas Refn gives great commentaries on films 2 and 3 in English."
Augusto Repetto | washington, d.c. | 02/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gritty, northern European gangster-fest! De-glamorizes any misguided perception you may have of the criminal lifestyle. Tight script, good editing, grainy documentary style photography, excellent casting. Can't ask for more."
Great Gritty Trio of Films
M. Cole | Albuquerque, NM | 12/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second film in the Pusher Trilogy. I have seen all three, and they all stand well on their own and together form a great body of work. The films are about the seedy underground world of drugs and crime in Denmark/Copenhagen. Well done, gritty, over the top, kind of a Danish "Mean Streets". All of the films are well worth seeing. I ordered this dvd quite inexpesively and used from an Amazon Merchant, came in great shape, on time and I'm a happy camper."