The “Drive” bromance of Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling continues; they are currently shooting crime thriller “Only God Forgives” in Bangkok, Thailand. The Weinsteins’ Radius-TWC has acquired U.S. rights to the film (FilmDistrict, which released “Drive,” never closed the deal last summer). “Only God Forgives” will benefit from Radius’ multi-platform options; the movie may turn out to be even more violent than “Drive” (more face bashings?!), which some theater audiences found hard to take. (Here’s our Cannes interview with Gosling on making “Drive.”)
Luke Evans (“Tamara Drewe”) was originally set to play the lead role in the Wild Bunch/Gaumont Production last May, but dropped out to do “The Hobbit.” In “Only God Forgives,” Gosling plays mixed martial arts ace Julian (pictured), the son of Florida crime boss Jenna (Kristin Scott Thomas). He’s plying the Thai drug trade alongside his addicted brother (Tom Burke), who gets involved with the murder of a prostitute and is himself targeted. Julian then seeks vengeance for his mom. This is where things get bloody.
The producers are Wild Bunch, Gaumont, and Lene Børglum, an executive producer of Refn’s 2009 “Valhalla Rising.” Radius-TWC co-chiefs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego distributed Refn’s films at Magnolia Pictures, from the Danish director’s “Pusher” trilogy to Tom Hardy-starrer ‘Bronson.” Radius-TWC also recently acquired domestic rights to Luis Prieto’s English-language remake of “Pusher,” which is executive produced by Refn.
Warning: the full synopsis below contains spoilers.
Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian 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 – 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.