It’s no secret that we here at Screen Rant are big fans of director Nicolas Winding Refn and actor Ryan Gosling’s first collaboration, last year’s Drive (our overall favorite movie of 2011). Hence, we had to report about the start of production – among other things – on the pair’s next collaboration, titled Only God Forgives.

Shooting on Only God Forgives is currently getting underway overseas in Thailand, with Refn working from his own original screenplay. Deadline reported earlier this week that the Weinstein Company-backed Radius-TWC was negotiating to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the film, as a deal with FilmDistrict failed to pan out last year. The former has (in all likelihood) secured rights to the project, at this point.

Here is a synopsis for Only God Forgives, followed by the first image of Gosling in the film:

Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian [played by Ryan Gosling] killed a cop and went on the run. Now he manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation. Respected in the criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty.

When Julian’s brother murders a prostitute the police call on retired cop Chang – the Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the father to kill his daughter’s murderer, then ‘restores order’ by chopping off the man’s right hand. Julian’s mother Jenna [played by Oscar-nominee Kristin Scott Thomas] – the head of a powerful criminal organization – arrives in Bangkok to collect her son’s body. She dispatches Julian to find his killers and ‘raise hell’.

Increasingly obsessed with the Angel of Vengeance, Julian challenges him to a boxing match, hoping that by defeating him he might find spiritual release… but Chang triumphs. A furious Jenna plots revenge and the stage is set for a bloody journey through betrayal and vengeance towards a final confrontation and the possibility of redemption.

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Judging by that synopsis – and the intimidating first still of a stern Gosling shrouded in darkness, set against a fiery backdrop – it’s obvious that Only God Forgives will see Refn lend his own unique cinematic storytelling sensibilities to the martial arts/crime sub-genre; much like he managed to leave his artistic fingerprint on the Neo-Noir genre with Drive, the violent ancient world epic sub-genre in Valhalla Rising, and the biographical picture genre with Bronson.

Only God Forgives is also clearly going to be a very hard R-rated and violent dramatic thriller that takes an “East-meets-West” stylistic approach and addresses such themes as the destructiveness of revenge (and the difficulties of redemption) through a narrative composed of brutal crime plot elements that recall those found in such cult Asian cinema titles as I Saw the Devil.

Ryan Gosling in ‘Drive’

In other words: Only God Forgives definitely won’t be for moviegoers of all shades, but fans of Refn’s previous work – and those interested in seeing Gosling portray another dangerous sociopath under the filmmaker’s watchful eye – are almost certainly going to want to keep this upcoming flick on their radar.

We will continue to keep you up-to-date on the status of Only God Forgives as more information is released.

Source: Deadline, Wild Bunch