First Look at ‘Drive’ Helmer Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 25th, 2013 at 8:56 am,

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.



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 First Look at Drive Helmer Nicolas Winding Refns Only God Forgives

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

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  1. I thought Drive was bloody amazing. Am looking forward seeing this one, more head-bashing please

  2. to seeing this one**

  3. Drive was my favorite movie of 2011. This is clearly going to be as good and probably as snubbed by the Oscars! Refn is one of the last few true filmmakers in the industry. I’ve been following his career for years now and he never disappoint.

  4. Really, I saw Valhalla Rising and Drive and didn’t care for either one. They both took so long to get going by the time the action starts, I’m already out of the movie, an hour and a half of build up to a conclusion that doesn’t even make sense. Which is a shame because the plot sounds cool, but he’ll spend 2/3 of the movie being all angsty, then psycho out for some stupid non-resolution. No thanks I’ll pass on this one. Its like a chick flick with violence

    • Heh, someone I doubt “chick flick with violence” is the description that’ll come to most people’s minds after reading that synopsis, but to each their own. ;-)

      • I’m refering to his style in general. Its like those sad, long drawn out chick flicks where the girl has cancer, just substitute cancer for psychosis

    • In no way do his films have any relation to chick flick, and the fact that you consider cancer something only associated with a female genre shows your ignorance to film. His films are arthouse, mixed with genres of action, crime, noir, fantasy, and other aspects. he doesnt follow conventional academy standards, or commercial content. Instead, its thoughtful and artistic. It pisses me off when people right movies like these off as “Too Long” or whatever is your excuse for not liking them. The endings are meant for you to think. not an actual good ending or bad ending. Sometimes they are created in context of the story and the characters troubles.

      Im perfectly comfortable with someone saying, I dont care for a specific film or style. I respect your preference and opinion. but you insult the work with ignorant reasoning and description.

      • First off insulting the work was the point, secondly I never said cancer was only associated with the female genre, it was just an example. And I didn’t say the movie itself was too long I said it took to long for the character to do something besides brood and semi stalk the married woman that lived down the hall. But if that’s what your into that’s what your into

        • It’s called a character study. We got to know this character. You are used to your one dimensional action movies, with cheesy one-liners and LOTS of action, but no character. This had personality – more than just in his fist.

          Re-watch the movie.

          • Its called the inability to think of something for the character to say or do so lets just have him sit around and be morose until he has an excuse to let loose his homicidal urges. Castaway was a character study, 8 seconds was a character study, Buried was a character study. Drive just sucked, how can you call it a character study when you know absolutely NOTHING about the character or his motivations. Trying to pigeon-hole me into an action movie type of guy, because I don’t care for this particular piece of drivel is almost funny, I don’t even particularly care for action movies, I do, on the other hand like movies with a coherent plot, with a logical progression of character

            • I’m going to agree with you here: Drive is NOT a character study…at all!

      • You’re not the only one thinking his movies are overrated. I think a lot of that can be attributed to his unique style; love it or hate, he has a vision very different from any other filmmakers in the industry. All these scenes that seem to go nowhere (or so we think in the first viewing) and the plot that seems overcomplicated or in the case of Drive (simplistic), all of that makes what we call…Artistic choices! They are intentional and executed with care and awareness. I understand if someone doesn’t like it but you can’t dismiss an entire film or even career based on a first impression (sometime you would be right though!).

        The first time I watched Valhalla Rising, I didn’t knew what to make of it: the colors, the little dialogues and the intense violence were very overwhelming in comparison to other movies that came out that year. I had to watch it again to understand that Refn wasn’t trying to tell a simple story about vikings but more about spirituality and soul-searching.

        The same thing goes for Drive. It’s not about a man who drives for gangsters. It’s about the industry of cinema. The choice to make Ryan Gosling a stunt driver for movies and Albert Brooks an ex-producer…it’s not a coincidence! Remember the scene where the character of Christina Hendricks gets her head blown off? Later on in the movie when Ryan Gosling goes back to the movie set to steal the mask, behind him you can see the fake heads they used to shoot the previous scene of Christina Hendricks death. That was intentional! Refn is making a movie about movies while showing the making of his movie in that same movie…Yeah! That’s meta right there!

        If you are here (on this site), it’s probably because you are not an average moviegoer and you know a lot about movies, like everybody else in here. So I understand you have the right to your opinion and what you’re saying is interesting. Refn is one of my favorite director and I have seen all of his movies (some more than once). I guess I’m a little bit passionate that’s all! Anyway, I would be interested to know more about your take on his movies.

          • I understand and you make some valid points. I guess it’s not for everybody. I’m just glad to know you’re not dismissive just because it’s an unusual movie with a different approach.

  5. Love every Refn film, except Fear X, which is still very interesting albeit flawed. Can’t wait for this!
    and Logan’s run. and the sex film with carey mulligan. and the heist film with mads mikkelson. and the albert brooks scripted romantic comedy with ryan gosling. and god willing Wonder Woman

  6. It’s called pacing, and I’m glad that you (Sandy) mentioned I Saw the Devil, because there are a lot of elements in Refns work ,especially Drive, that reminds me of Chan Wook Park and other Korean revenge thrillers. Honestly some of the best movies to come out in the last decade are Korean. I am super excited for this movie, it could not be in better hands

  7. It took you guys 3 days to make this thread. Smh.

    Anyways, looking forward to this film. These two are going to be great.


  9. People want fast pacing and maximum CGI. When there is a slow scene with dialogue, they get bored. And I don’t get people complaining about a movie being too long.

    • Drive was more slow scenes with little dialogue haha but I loved it

      • Right, until he started beating people to death with a hammer he said like three words

        • It’s Scorsese meets Kubrick! Anyway, I wasn’t talking about Drive but more about arthouse movies in general. Tinter Tailor Soldier Spy is another movie that should’ve got way more recognition. Same thing with Shame.

  10. …but if it’s not like fast & furious i’m gonna sue

  11. Damn, just reading that, I started visualizing what the movie is gonna be like. Glad to see new and creative projects being worked on. I love blockbusters but love to find those gems that come out of the blue and knock your ass down like “DRIVE”

  12. Sweat!! Cant wait! Loved Drive, Bronson, and Valhalla Rising! keep up the good work Mr. Refin as you seem to be one of the last true artist’s in the film business.

  13. The plot seems overly complicated, and im on of those guys that wasnt thrilled with “Drive”.

    But I will keep an open mind and give it a chance, thanks for the update and keep ‘em coming

  14. Can’t wait for this. Drive is my favorite movie and I am looking foward to more of this duos work, Logan’s Run Too.

  15. Sooooo Ryan dies in this movie? damn!