The Pusher Trilogy
The Pusher Trilogy (Pusher, With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II and I'm the Angel of Death: Pusher III) is the anti-gangster film in very much the same way as Unforgiven was the anti-western. Pusher was the debut movie of Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn, and in it he does a remarkable and outstanding job of stripping down the gangster lifestyle and revealing it for what it really is: brutal, unforgiving, and unglamorous. In a review of the movies, New York Times aptly stated that "A drug pusher's life is rotten in Denmark".
The movies in the Pusher trilogy show this life in a very realistic and hard manner. 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. They don't live jet set lives; they have filthy sex and live in fear.
Each of the movies 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. When a drug deal goes bad and Frank is arrested then released for lack of evidence, he finds himself in deep debt with a ruthless Yugoslav dealer. Milo, who wants his money now. Frank, believing he's been betrayed by Tonny, takes revenge, making one desperate ploy after another as his life spirals into a nightmare of bad choices. Though influenced by recent hipster movies such as Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction, a truer ancestor to Pusher is Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets.
The second film features Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen - 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 third and final film follows Milo, the feared Serbian crime lord. First seen in the original film as a vicious underworld heavy with a thirst for blood and a sadistic mean streak, Milo's violent professional life couldn't stand in starker contrast to his henpecked home life. Now he is propelled into a series of tragic choices when a shipment of cocaine doesn't come in as planned. At home he is catering to the constant demands of his spoiled daughter, Milena, while at work, he watches over his shiftless henchmen and cooks his helpers some questionably prepared samosas, Milo's notorious street reputation can't hold a candle to his reputation for being quite a softie around the house.
Pusher and the sequels are brutally realistic and rigorously unsentimental. There are no flashy camera tricks. But you should be aware that these are hard, tough movies to watch - there is quite graphic violence, some sex scenes and nudity, and overall the movies portray a frightening reality in a hard, bleak manner.
I really liked (but didn't necessarily enjoy them all the time) seeing the movies, and strongly recommend them. Many critics seem to hold the second to be the strongest. This may be right. The third film, I Am The Angel of Death, is also outstanding, and perhaps my favorite. It really deserves mentioning that the sequels are not in any way less excellent then the first movie.
The DVDs are in Danish (mostly) with English subtitles and Nicolas Winding Refn gives great commentaries on films 2 and 3 in English.
Product Details (US Version)
- Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: Danish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish
- Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 3
- Rated: Unrated
- Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
- Run Time: 318 minutes