Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
Gaunt and tattooed, simultaneously threatening and oddly tender, Mads Mikkelsen excels as the skinhead anti-hero of Danish prodigy Nicolas Winding Refn’s invigorating return to form. Only nominally a sequel, it returns to Pusher’s Copenhagen underworld of hoods and hookers, and focuses on the lowest of them, skinhead Tonny. He is just out of prison and hoping to return to his former ways, but is treated as a bumbling fuck-up by his old cohorts, especially his father, an underworld kingpin controlling a number of chop shops and drug operations. With stylish intensity, Refn keeps the action taut and matter-of-fact. His last film, Hollywood thriller Fear X, was a collaboration with the late great novelist Hubert Selby Jr (Requiem for a Dream). As a portrait of lowlife machismo Pusher II bears the heady influence of Selby’s hardboiled prose, making it a fitting dedication from a young turk to an old master.