With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II (2004)

Mads Mikkelsen, Leif Sylvester, Anne Sørensen, Øyvind Hagen-Traberg,
Tonny is released from prison - again. This time he has his mind set on changing his broken down life, but that is easier said than done.
  • 7.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Nicolas Winding Refn, Director:
  • Henrik Danstrup, Producer:

Trailer:

8 / 10

Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher 2 is even better than the first one

Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher 1-3 is my favorite trilogy of danish film history. Pusher II (2004) is the best part of it. I have been a follower of Refn's work ever-since I saw his directional debut Pusher (1996) the first time. It had a great dynamic, it was brutally honest and it had a documentary-style (hand-held camera, great method-acting etc.) that gave it an authentic feeling.

The story-line: Small-time gangster Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) is released from prison, but quickly returns to the criminal underworld and gets hired by his father "Smeden" (Leif Sylvester): a big-time gangster highly respected in the underworld. But Tonny has a hard time earning his father's respect, and on top of that, he discovers that Charlotte (Anne S?rensen): a girl he once had sex with, has given birth to his child. Tonny has a hard time making the right decisions, and one day he agrees to help his friend Kusse-Kurt (Kurt Nielsen) purchase heroin worth of 80.000 danish kroner from big-time pusher Milo (Zlatko Buric), but since they are high off cocaine and paranoid they accidentally throw the heroin in the toilet, as they think a police-man enters the room. Now they have a big problem. They have to get 80.000 kroner very quickly...

In 2004 Nicolas Winding Refn almost went bankrupt, because his previous film Fear X (2002) which was shot on a big-budget in Canada, did horribly in the theaters and at box-office. Refn knew that a sequel for Pusher would do very well (Pusher 1 was the most engrossing debut film ever of Denmark) and the universe of the film had lots of artistic possibilities - therefore he decided on making it a trilogy. And Refn very much proofed that it is possible to make artistically interesting films out of rather commercial interests.

It could be argued that Pusher 1 glamorized the gangster/drug underworld at times. This is NOT the case in Pusher II. Although Pusher 1 did show the decay of a cold man in a cold milieu, we never really got into his feelings. In Pusher II we get to feel the pain and coldness (even when Tonny himself doesn't). Pusher II is a docu-drama based on realism (like Pusher 1), and only three characters are real actors. The rest of the cast consists of people off the street, and this very much adds to its authenticity. They do a great job! The second half of the film has a few very beautiful artistic scenes (almost dream-like) that almost pauses the film and gives its audience time for reflecting. In the scenes we see very dominant red colors and the music is almost ambient-like. A great idea that works very well - even in such a realistic film.

Mads Mikkelsen, Leif Sylvester and Zlatko Buric do terrific jobs. They are (as usual) very professional and passionate actors. But the real surprise is the untrained street-actors. They add SO much to the realism and rawness of the film. Pusher II is shot on DV-camera with a hand-held style, but it's far from Dogme. Many scenes look terrific, and the playing with distinctive colors red and green works well. I also have to give credit to Peterpeter's great rock/80's synthesizer soundtrack. It really under-builds the scenes in a scary way.

I highly recommend Pusher II (and the rest of the trilogy) to everyone! A perfect example of an artistic film that actually works for all audiences! 9/10

8 / 10

Gritty, bleak and unforgettable

Dedicated to Hubert Selby Jr., Pusher II moves in the familiar territory of the New York writer, night scenes populated by strippers, drug addicts and hopeless petty criminals. Unlike Last Stop Brooklyn, and the first movie in the trilogy, Pusher ends on a high, pun not intended, with a glimmer of hope to illuminate the Scandinavian night that most of this movie seems to embrace.

Eight years have gone by since Frank from Pusher broke Tonny's head with a baseball bat. Frank is now gone, and Tonny, the eternal screwup, seeks criminal success working for the big boss himself: his father. What he finds of course is deceit, empty violence, cocaine-fueled failures of all kinds.

Even when seeking redemption in a loveless world Nicolas Winding Refn's characters are still unable to talk except that with fists or knives, unable to act or to stop acting if not by chemically quelling one's fears. This movie is less violence, but perhaps even scarier than Pusher II. It is because of the absolute absence of human empathy or maybe just because is a little bit of Tonny in all of us.

8 / 10

Refn and Mikkelsen are in top form.

After Refn made an unsuccessful English-language debut with 2003's "Fear X," he returned to Denmark to shoot parts two and three of "The Pusher Trilogy." But the new films aren't a continuation, and the layoff didn't dull Refn's ability to tell an engaging crime story. In "Pusher 2: With Blood On My Hands," the film explores a drug-dealer's former sidekick as he deals with new challenges in the world of crime, drugs, and becoming a father.

Frank's ex-sidekick from the first film, Tonny, wonderfully played by Mads Mikkelsen is fresh out of prison. Tonny is eager to prove his worth as earner and son to his crime boss father (Leif Sylvester Petersen), known as the Duke. Routinely called a loser by everyone he knows -- he practically invites abuse by sporting a tattooed "respect" on the back of his bald head. Tonny also tries to ingratiate himself with his recalcitrant father (Leif Sylvester Petersen), who can hardly trust him with anything. The back-breaking straw is the appearance of a baby that Tonny's old non-girlfriend (Anne Sorensen) claims is his. The bitterness and betrayal mounts as Tonny begins to wonder if he should rewrite his life, and the fate of the neglected infant.

At its core, the film about is about broken families and serves as a stark reminder of the lasting effects on our actions can have on future generations. Tonny's entire life has been spent on only one thing: trying to gain the approval of his father. And not only that he learns on his release that he is very likely the father of a baby boy, one so neglected by his junkie mother that he hasn't even been given a name yet. Refn is painting a bleak picture of a child without a chance. He is in complete control behind the camera, but this film belongs purely and simply to Mikkelsen. He is absolutely stunning, flawlessly embodying the insecurities and desire that drives Tonny. Against all odds, Tonny becomes a sympathetic hero in an increasingly tragic tale. It's not hard to spot the need that drives his self-destructive behavior: it's practically written all over his face - or at least the back of his head.

7 / 10

Mads Mikkelsen Strikes Again

Our protagonist, Tonny, is an ex-con and general screwup who just about everyone dislikes, for good reasons. His father, girlfriend, co-workers and most of his associates consider him to be the biggest goober head around, and from his actions you won't think they are far wrong.

There is a lot of drug use in the film, but not much dealing, so the title is a bit misleading. However, the movie is good because of the excellent acting and the general zaniness of the plot; you never know what kind of mistake Tonny is going to make next. What's sure is that he will make one, and probably in the next couple of minutes. He's the kind of guy you can like on the screen but would be horrified to find living next door.

Mads Mikkelsen as Tonny is awesome; he's about as far from the part of Le Chiffre in Casino Royale as a character could get. At first I had a hard time believing it was the same actor.

Watch this when you're in the mood for a Danish gangster film featuring some madcap fun and general foolishness.

9 / 10

A brutal masterpiece about the modern underworld

As a fan of all of Winding Refn's movies, this is up there with Pusher (1) and Bronson. A painfully realistic picture of the Scandinavian crime underworld, with very few winners and many, many losers ruining their lives. This movie does not hold back on anything - it's not the Hollywood glorifying tale about "career criminals" - it shows the reality of this life, with no honour and so many betrayals.Tonny is a character from the first Pusher movie, this time just out of a jail sentence, returning to his former associates, with no money, no real friends and no assets whatsoever, seeking refuge at his crime boss father, who has always despised him and humiliated him.

Desperate to make some kind of livelihood and impress his dad, "Smeden", he turns to some old companions, only to find betrayal in return. He's not "tough enough", more sensitive and unsecure than others in his crowd, and pays a heavy price for it.There's no winners or losers here; It's the real world, and it will leave you emotionally drained after seeing it, but if you are looking for a realistic depiction of a modern criminal's haunting, gruesome and stressful life - look no further.