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A lot of people don't know what to make of this movie, and that's fair.
What do I think it's about?
Revenge. Violence. Morality. Guilt. Judgement. Themes like that.
Notably, it features more than a few motifs commonly seen in the work of Nicholas Winding Refn: vague hints of the supernatural, realistic moments of drama made horrific by surrealism, vivid colors, and an engimatic, morally gray protagonist who carries strong mythic undertones.
The skinny: Julian runs a boxing gym that doubles as a front for his mother's criminal enterprises in Bangkok. At the start of the movie, his Stupid Evil brother commits a heinous rape and murder of an underage prostitute. Chang, a greatly respected police officer who acts almost as a force of nature, arrives and delivers his own brand of justice. With his brother's death and the arrival of his Lady Macbeth mother, Julian is torn between ignoring the resulting vendetta that he doesn't truly believe in and challenging Chang in order to prove himself. Whether to his mother, to Chang or to himself is hard to say.
Like Refn's Drive, Only God Forgives treads on familiar territory but adds it's own strange thematic touches. While not nearly as satisfying as that movie, this is still unique in its own way. It features many haunting, even unsettling moments. Most notably is the subversive fight scene that the promotional material built up, which can easily be looked at as an ordinary guy challenges God to a fist-fight. The ending is also pretty unconventional as far as movies like this go.
I was intrigued, but I can definitely see why this wouldn't be for everyone.
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