The partnership between director Nicolas Winding Refn and leading man Ryan Gosling is proving to be a fruitful, fascinating one. Following the ingenious rejuvenation of the crime flick with Drive is this transcendent take on the martial arts genre. It’s a dark, brooding revenge saga that contains moments of shocking violence, yet Refn infuses the film with elegance, humour, beauty, and even some restraint. The deft switches in tone both surprise and delight and Only God Forgives confirms that Refn is a modern auteur few can rival, a filmmaker to be reckoned with.
Gosling plays Julian, who runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for his drug business. When his brother is murdered his mother Crystal (an astonishing performance from Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives to claim the body of her favoured son, and demands vengeance. She sets Julian on course for a showdown with the mysterious cop, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm).