Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands

dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

Series - Twitch Film Feature Series

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Mads Mikkelsen takes centre stage in the first sequel to Pusher, as an ex-con who desperately attempts to earn the approval of his crime-lord father while coming to terms with the fact that he has become a father himself.

Reeling (some would say humbled) by the failure of Fear X, Winding Refn did what many a filmmaker has done in pursuit of a financial fix: he sequelized a prior success, churning out Pusher II and III back to back. But far from a quick, low-grade cash-in, the Pusher sequels stand as some of the strongest work in Winding Refn's entire filmography, expanding the universe of the original film to create a panoramic portrait of the Copenhagen underworld. In Pusher II, the focus shifts from Kim Bodnia's Frank to his former sidekick Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen), who, a few years after the events of the previous film, is heading home after a stint in prison. Things go from bad to bloody as Tonny desperately attempts to win the approval of his crime-lord father (Leif Sylvester) while coming to terms with the fact that he has become a father himself. (For those wishing to indulge in a little armchair analysis, it's pertinent to note that Winding Refn had himself become a new father at the time.) As raw and muscular as its predecessor, Pusher II also packs an unexpectedly emotional wallop thanks to Mikkelsen, who gives an absolutely searing performance as a man despairing over the gap between what he is and what he wants to be.