Writer and director Nicolas Winding Refn turned down a place at the prestigious National Danish Film School in order to make his 1996 feature film debut, PUSHER. This violent, edgy, yet moving cult classic established Refn as an uncompromising filmmaker of great talent and depth. Following his next two films, Bleeder (1999) and Fear X (2003), Refn returned to the Copenhagen underworld in 2004 with PUSHER II: WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS, while 2005 saw the release of PUSHER III: I’M THE ANGEL OF DEATH. All three PUSHER films display Refn effortlessly blending moody atmospherics and frenetic action, portraying his characters with a depth and confidence belying his years. Though each film can be appreciated independently of the other two, Refn subtly interweaves these three tales so that a minor character in one film moves to the fore to become the central character of the next. The resulting trilogy stands as a masterful reinvention of international crime cinema, as poignantly human as it is brutally and viscerally realized. The PUSHER trilogy reveals the humanity in even the most violent criminals and how every pusher—no matter what his status—is only one bad deal away from total ruin.
PUSHER is the story of Frank, a small-time drug dealer who is about to experience the worst week of his life. After a complicated heroin deal goes wrong and he loses both the money and the merchandise, Frank finds himself massively in debt to the Balkan drug baron Milo. The squeeze is on and as the week passes the pressure mounts, with Frank trying to repay the money in the face of Milo’s increasing frustration and his own latent self-destructiveness. Come Friday, Saturday might never happen. As Frank launches one last desperate push to raise the missing funds, it appears less and less likely he will manage to emerge from this hellish week unscathed…
PUSHER II: WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS
PUSHER II tells the story of Tonny, a crook from the Copenhagen underworld whose previous run-in with a baseball bat has left his mind addled and unreliable. Having just been released from prison, Tonny tries to bring order to his life and gain the respect of his father, the Duke, a notorious gangster who appears to have nothing but contempt for his son. Tonny soon learns that nothing in this new life comes easy. Trying to repay a debt held over from prison, he makes misstep after misstep, running further afoul of the Duke. On top of it all, Tonny must contribute to the upbringing of a baby boy which may or may not be his own. Battling the scorn of all around him as well as his own drug-fuelled delirium, Tonny must forge a path toward some form of redemption, or perish in the attempt.
PUSHER III: I’M THE ANGEL OF DEATH
PUSHER III takes place over the course of a single day, with the now middle-aged Milo struggling to prepare his daughter’s 25th birthday party. As Milo fights his own personal demons in the form a smack addiction he’s trying to kick, his business day proves equally challenging once a shipment of ecstasy arrives in place of the heroin he was expecting. Milo is forced to contend with a new order of young hoods in order to move this designer drug he knows little about. Now feeling the squeeze he himself had put on so many before him, Milo must find a way to maintain his place of dominance atop the Copenhagen underworld. To do so he will have to survive one of the most harrowing episodes of his long, illustrious career.
Directed by - Nicolas Winding Refn
Script - Nicolas Winding Refn
Producer - Henrik Danstrup
Executive producers - Peter Aalaek Jensen
Director of Photography - Morten Søborg
Editing - Anne Østerud
Composer - Peter Peter
Sound designer - Peter Schultz
Art Direction - Kim Lovetand Julebaek
Frank - Kim Bodnia
Milo - Zlatko Buric
Tonny - Mads Mikkelsen
Vic - Laura Drasbaek
Radovan - Slavko Labovic
Hasse - Peter Andersson
Branko - Anja Bajicic