Nicolas Winding Refn Movies


Nicolas Winding Refn movies are violent—almost too much so for my squeamish stomach. While I admire Nicolas Winding Refn movies, I’ve found myself watching the few I’ve seen through the tiny gaps between my fingers. Drive, unquestionably Nicolas Winding Refn’s most popular movie, is the most beautiful ugly film you’ve ever seen. The best shots in Drive have lingered with me years later, even if the final product isn’t something I care all that much to revisit anytime soon. Nicolas Winding Refn movies also feature some truly unique acting—I’ll go to bat for Ryan Gosling in Drive and Tom Hardy in Brosnon any day.

Judging by the myriad of words—both rapturous and hilariously hateful—written about Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest movie, Only God Forgives, there’s no reason to expect Nicolas Winding Refn movies to change anytime soon. So I need to either embrace the blood and guts or find director capable of handling Ryan Gosling at his most idiosyncratic (oh, hey, Derek Cianfrance).

Nicolas Winding Refn Movies


After a botched deal, a low-level drug pusher finds himself at odds with a powerful, ruthless kingpin.

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Winding Refn’s 1996 debut is, apparently, one of his less violent outings. Consider me sold. This one is near the top of my queue. I very well might get around to it before Only God Forgives (but more on that below).


A young Danish couple is tested when the woman becomes pregnant and the man becomes violent.

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Bleeder. That’s a hell of an evocative title. It’s also one that’s unlikely to draw me in. It doesn’t help that even Refn die-hards seem lukewarm about his sophomore feature.

Fear X

A man’s wife is murdered under bewildering circumstances. He hunts for both a reason and the killer.

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Refn’s English-language debut is another rarely-praised film from what I can tell. John Turturro, always interesting, is Fear X‘s protagonist. Also noteworthy: this one’s rated PG-13.

With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II

Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen) is released from prison following the events of Pusher. He has a mind to clean up his act, but that’s easier said than done.

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Neither this nor the final Pusher film seems to have the love and support the first film does, but the entire trilogy is well-regarded enough that I feel compelled to give it a look sometime. We’ll see how much Pusher wows me…

I’m the Angel of Death: Pusher III

The third and final film in Refn’s trilogy follows the drug lord of the first two films who’s trying to unload a ton of ecstasy. The results are disastrous.

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This synopsis compels me more than either of the other two Pusher films. Alas, if I see it, it will be after Pusher and Pusher II.


A biopic of the notorious criminal Michael Peterson (a.k.a. Charles Bronson) who, in 1974, attempted to rob a post office. His seven-year-long sentenced turned into 30 years of solitary confinement. Why? The guy is a hyper-violent lunatic.

(1 viewing)

Finally! A Nicolas Winding Refn movie I’ve seen! Unfortunately, it isn’t a film I love. Tom Hardy is indescribably good, but the film as a whole never quite gels. It’s as if Refn knows he has a big(ish) audience for the first time and wants to throw everything at them so they know what he’s capable of. Plenty of it sticks, but Bronson is missing some cohesion.

Valhalla Rising

Around 1000 AD, a warrior breaks free from captivity and hops aboard a Viking ship destined for a new world.

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I’d love to see this film because the period and concept interest me greatly. Unfortunately, I’ve heard nothing about the film if not that it’s exceptionally violent—like brains and guts violent—and I need to be in the right head space for that. I haven’t been in that space, it seems, in four years. My prospects for seeing this one aren’t exactly bullish.


A quiet, nameless stuntman falls for his neighbor and offers to help her husband out of a jam. That friendly favor puts him on the wrong side of some bad people. (Click here for my full Drive review.)

(2 viewings)

I do so adore elements of Drive. The music, the cinematography, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks. It’s a very good film. I never fell for it the way so many others did, but I can appreciate the film for what it is: genre filmmaking at its most impeccably crafted.

Only God Forgives

At the behest of his wicked mother, a drug smuggler living in Bangkok hunts those responsible for the death of his brother.

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I’m honestly 50/50 on whether I even bother seeing Refn’s latest. That it’s hitting VOD the same day as theaters is in its favor. The Cannes “buzz” is definitely not in its favor. If anything swings me in the direction of watching it, it’s Kristen Scott Thomas’ presence.


More Director Spotlight posts:
Sofia Coppola Movies
Noah Baumbach Movies
Guillermo del Toro Movies
Nicolas Winding Refn Movies
Woody Allen Movies
Christopher Nolan Movies
Jeff Nichols Movies
Lee Daniels Movies

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5 Responses to Nicolas Winding Refn Movies

  1. Brittani July 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you for reminding me that Only God Forgives comes out on VOD. I totally spaced that. I will definitely be checking that one out.

  2. Steven Flores July 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I’ve managed to have seen all of NWR’s films last year for my Auteurs piece (which I’ll update after I watch Only God Forgives). I think he’s one of the most interesting filmmakers working today and definitely the man who should now lead Danish cinema (though he is hated by critics from his home country).

    • John Gilpatrick July 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      I wasn’t aware that Danish critics disliked his films so much. I’m curious about some of these films. Was interesting putting this post together for a filmmaker I a) don’t know particularly well, and b) don’t LOVE like I love Coppola, del Toro, etc.

  3. Alan July 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I’m really hyped for ONLY GOD FORGIVES, not least because of the divided critical reactions in Cannes. If it’s as radical as everyone says it is (i.e. up there with Jodorowsky and Noé), it will be interesting to see how many people sit through it. In my experience, these movies are often the most satisfying to watch and reflect on.

    I recommend Peter Bradshaw’s review as a bit of a counter-narrative to the rather negative critical consensus:

    • John Gilpatrick July 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      It’ll definitely be a talking point, I think, in the similar way as TO THE WONDER. Lots of love. Lots of hate.

      I’m glad it’s coming to VOD…will give everyone a chance to react almost instantly.


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