Only God Forgives Review: Refn took a big risk

From the director that brought us the brilliant film Drive back in 2011 starring Ryan Gosling, he now has released his next eagerly awaited film Only God Forgives. But with his last great film, expectations would always be high for whatever came next. But the question is, has it delivered?

Only God Forgives poster

Only God Forgives poster

Only God Forgives isn’t your everyday normal film. It’s actually quite the opposite if honest. The plot of the film centres around Julian and Chang. Julian is an American who moved has moved to Bangkok with his brother Billy. Their main source of income is by dealing drugs. The film opens with Julian’s brother walking around Bangkok at night, which he ends up raping and killing a sixteen year old girl. This is where our other main character enters, Chang.

Chang is an police man who isn’t as young as he use to be. He arrives at the scene of the crime where Billy is being held. Chang tells the daughters father to do what he wants to Billy, in which he ends up murdering him. Chang then takes the father to an isolated place with two of his other officers and punishes the father by taking out a sword and chopping half of his arm off. Telling him that this is what he gets for making his daughters prostitutes.

A bit later on Julian’s mother arrives in Bangkok because her first born son Billy has passed away.  She sets the task of getting Julian to kill the man that killed his brother. This begins a chase of revenge through the city of Bangkok.

The cast in Only God Forgives is a fantastic cast, it stars Ryan Gosling as Julian, Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang, and Kristian Scott Thomas as Crystal. Everyone performs brilliantly, and the most stunning performance comes from Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang. Who plays the role flawlessly.

Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang!

Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang

Something that many critics have noted about Only God Forgives is its lack of script throughout the entire movie. There is such a lack of talking in the movie that it feels weird when people onscreen are having a full blown conversation. But what Refn was trying to do was to tell you, a story visually. He doesn’t want the characters to tell you, he wants to show you through weird dreams that Julian has and what is happening onscreen. And I think this was a risk to take. The whole way he went about in the movie was a risk. He could of played it safe and done something like Drive again, but he took a different direction. He wants to tell you the story of Julian and Chang through cinematic shots, instead of just a script like normal movies would. And I believe he pulls this off, very well actually. It is for sure differently, but Refn manages to pull it off.

When I think back over the movie and what my thoughts of it are, I haven’t got much problems with it being honest. One of my main issues with the film is a torture scene involving Chang. The scene got its point across within the first few minutes of it, but Refn seemed to drag it way out just for ‘shock value’ I believe. Though the scene is very well done, it is dragged out and could be cut down significantly.

A still of Julian

A still of Julian

But the best part of Only God Forgives isn’t the acting, or the plot, it’s the beautiful cinematography. Some of the shots in this movie are literally outstanding. With the blend of the night sky and all the different neon colours and signs around Bangkok, it really adds a whole lot more to the film. The music in the film is great as well, especially during an important moment with Julian and Chang.

Only God Forgives has been getting a lot of bad rap since it was first shown, it was boosed at Cannes and is now seeing a very low score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. My main thought about the film is, it is certainly not for everyone. If you enjoyed or even loved Drive, which was Refn’s previous film with Gosling, it doesn’t mean you will like this. It is a totally different film and has a totally different style.

All in all, Only God Forgives managed to tell a very interesting story with absolutely stunning cinematography, great music and brilliant performances by all the cast. It also managed to wrap up the end with not leaving a cliffhanger or anything and finished it with a real nice touch. So far it is one of my favorite moves from 2013 and that’s why I give it, a:

Overall rating: 9/10

A Look Back At: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 poster

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 poster

Did you know? In the poster above, which was used for the promotional purposes of the film, the group shot of the family are in the exact same positions of the poster for the film The Breakfast Club.

When the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre released back in 1974 it was a cult hit, and it gained die hard fans. Fast forward twelve years later and its sequel releases. It would always be hard to outdo the original, and even more so with comedy elements added to the film. Would this turn out to be one of the best horror sequels of all time? Lets find out, as we a take a look back!

In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the plot centres around a young radio host (named ‘Stretch’) who ends up hearing Leatherface (and co.) murdering two guys in their early twenties as they called into her show. She then teams up with Lieutenant ‘Lefty’ Enright, (played by Dennis Hooper) who is trying to figure out who murdered the two guys. After Stretch plays the recording of the two males dying all day on her show, Leatherface and co. show up at her radio station to make her their next victim while Lieutenant Enright hunts the family down.

Though that is the plot for TCM2, director Tobe Hooper and co-writer of the original TCM Kim Henkel had thought up a plot for the sequel which involved a town of cannibals instead of just the family we got in the first film. It was also known that it would be a satire of film Motel Hell which itself was a satire of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A name was even given to the sequel, “Beyond the Valley of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre“. But the studio Cannon Films Inc. disliked the screenplay so much that a new screenwriter was hired. They then ended up with the plot for the film we have now.

Actor Jim Siedow welding a chainsaw.

Actor Jim Siedow welding a chainsaw.

Did you know? Not only is Jim Siedow the only actor that was in the original film that returned, but TCM2 was his very last film.

Though The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 has a totally different direction from the original, at the heart of the film, it is still very entertaining. And it is certainly better than the other sequels that were made later on down the line. When you think about it, with Hooper leading the film it couldn’t be actually that bad. The man has done so many incredible films, that he can even turn a classic slasher movie into a comedy movie, and still managing to keep the most important character, Leatherface, true to his roots but giving him a little bit more soul.

One of my minor problems with the film is that it gets very cheesy at the end, and I felt that it was kind of dragging out. Even with a running time of 101 minutes (note: the original was only 83 minutes) it felt like it was being dragged out, and some shots like the very last shot with Stretch, it could of been done better or even just cut altogether.

Even with my problem with the film going on a little bit too long, it is filled with goodness. There is many laughs to be had, and a great chainsaw battle in the movie too. But one of my favorite things about this movie would have to be Leatherface, I believe he is a better and even more of a ‘person’ but yet is forced to do things by his very sick family. It’s very clear in multiple (two in particular) scenes that he has some sort of feelings for Stretch, may they be sexually urges, or that that he actually cares for her. I think this makes him much more of a likeable character than the Leatherface we saw in the original who has basically no lines of dialogue at all and is just out to kill people. You get nothing more there and I can see why he was that way in a slasher film, but I do think he portrayed better in the sequel. I liked him way more, even with the few hundred (thousand) people he murdered.

Our favorite chainsaw wielding killer, Leatherface!

Bill Johnson as Leatherface!

Did you know? Tobe Hooper wanted Gunnar Hansen who played Leatherface in the original film, to comeback in the sequel to play him again. Hansen was up for playing the part, but he wouldn’t play him unless he was payed more. It was then decided to not bring him back and get Bill Johnson to play Leatherface.

At the end of the day, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 isn’t a sequel that just copies the original and lives off its glory. It’s a film where chances were taken and they paid off very well. It’s not the best sequel in the world, but it is one that any fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series should see, or just a horror fan in general.

Questions you may ask:

Should I watch this?
If you’re a fan of the horror genre in any way, or even just saw one of the TCM films and liked it, this sequel is definitely worth a look. I know when people hear about the comedy elements it kind of scares them away because the original film was (and still is) a landmark for the slasher genre, and now that comedy was incorporated into the sequel they automatically think it will be bad. But it’s not! Trust me, it’s a film that is very entertaining and fun to watch!

Is the rest of the franchise worth watching?
This is a tough question, because this franchise is very…mixed and matched. The original film is brilliant, and if you haven’t seen it already, that is the one you should start with. The second (which I discussed here) is also very good. The third film is…okay at the most. Even in the unrated version it is scared to show deaths, you always get that crappy ‘you can see the death!…in the shadow’. As for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation? It’s a very, very bad film that you can totally miss out on. Even though the cast is impressive with Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey starring in it, it doesn’t make up for how overall poor the film is. The remake and prequel to the remake are both good films that can be enjoyed.