- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- Did Julian hate his brother because he was their mother's favorite or because of his depravity? Or did he hate him at all and his mother just thought he did? Did he really kill his father as his mother claimed?
- Is Chang a Hero Antagonist or the real main character and is he any better than the criminals he hunts?
- There is a popular theory in that Chang is God.
- This is backed up by Refn himself, who directed Chang's actor by literally whispering in his ear: "You are God."
- Awesome Moments: Chang's pretty badass in general, but his greatest moment comes when he effortlessly turns the tables on Crystal's assassins, nailing one with a headshot from his pistol and using a cooking pot to throw boiling water in the face of another before beating him senseless with it.
- Awesome Music: The soundtrack is pretty great, particularly the closing theme.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: One of the most common complaints is that every character is either unlikable, inscrutable, or both.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- Billy raping and murdering a teenager in the first 5 minutes.
- Julian's mother ordering him to kill Chang's entire family.
- Narm: "TAKE IT OFF!"
- The death scene of Crystal's henchman also descends into this territory, as he hams up his slow, excruciating death to the point of absurdity.
- Nightmare Fuel: The highly controversial scene in which Chang tortures Crystal's henchman got under the skin of many as a result of its level of graphic violence.
- Squick: Crystal's relationship with her sons in general. Special mention goes to a scene after her death, where Julian disembowels her corpse and sticks his hand inside her womb.
- Vanilla Protagonist: Julian has very little agency and not much of a personality, being mostly a toy for his mother.
YMMV / Only God Forgives