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on November 13, 2006
It's true, we've all seen crimes-go-wrong scenarios before. However, writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn does a wonderful job of focusing his camera on single characters in each film and bringing out the drama of crooks and pushers getting in over their head in some of the worst days of their lives.

In Pusher, drug middleman Frank tries to sort out a mess when he winds up owing too much to local drug kingpin Milo.

Pusher II plays like an Oedipal tragedy minus the mom, with Frank's friend Tonny taking center stage. Tonny gets out of jail and tries to ingratiate himself into the crime business of his cruel father with predictably disastrous results.

Pusher III returns to Milo, an important character in each of the previous films, as he ages and is challenged by new blood in the drug business and new challenges as he negotiates his daughter's 25th birthday party, her wanting to get in on the action, bad drug deals, prostitution and murder.

All three films play perfectly together, with recurring characters, similar themes and believable violence. The criminals are humanized in a way that doesn't let audiences off the hook, as with Trainspotting's reluctantly violent druggies. These are the dealers with cool heads who have chosen this line of work and do terrible things. Yet, at the end of the day or week, Winding Refn has let us walk in their shoes enough to see the fallibility and humanity in what 90 minutes before we might have regarded as unconscionable evil. If you want to sympathize with these characters, you'll have to admit you see a little darkness in yourself, too.

P.S. The tale of how Pusher II and III came to be is almost as cool as the films. It's covered in the documentary Gambler here, which follows him and his associates as they struggle to put together funding for the two films, not to get paid, but just to break even and climb out of moviemaking bankruptcy. Also cool are two featurettes explore how Winding Refn picked amateurs or almost-amateurs for most of the gritty roles in the last two films.
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on December 29, 2006
The Pusher Trilogy is the anti-gangster film in very much the same way as Unforgiven was the anti-western. Nicholas Winding Refn has stripped down the gangster lifestyle and revealed it for what it really is: brutal, unforgiving, and unglamorous. The gangsters in these films don't live in mansions; they live in dirty apartments. They don't have parties in expensive clubs; they use run down restaurants.

Each film has its own main character who has to deal with what ends up being a catastrophically escalating series of events. The first film follows Frank, a drug dealer who runs into trouble when a deal goes sour. The second film features Mads Mikkelson (the recent "Casino Royale" James Bond villain), who plays an incredibly tragic figure; the film plays on "son tries to win his father's affection" themes, while simultaneously subverting them. The final film follows Milo, a drug kingpin who is propelled into a series of tragic choices when a shipment of cocaine doesn't come in as planned.

The three films are all great; a bit on the short side, but very effective. Many critics seem to think the second one is the strongest and I tend to agree with them, although the third film, "I Am The Angel of Death," has almost the same level of pathos. If you are a fan of films like "Scarface," "City of God," or "The Sopranos" (not a film, I know), then definitely give this one a look! The DVDs are in Danish (mostly) with English subtitles and Nicolas Refn gives great commentaries on films 2 and 3 in English.
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Brutal, but with a keen sense of irony, Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher Trilogy" is a wildly entertaining ride that's far more sophisticated than might appear at first glance. Three films that share certain overlapping characters, the "Pusher Trilogy" also links the stories with thematic similarities--but any of these movies also stand up to independent viewing. Individually, they are gritty and effective looks at the criminal underbelly--but together, they are an undeniable masterwork! Uproariously hilarious, wickedly bloody, and even surprisingly moving at times, I wholeheartedly recommend these to lovers of international film (they are set in Copenhagen) or the action genre.

"Pusher" tells the story of a low-life hood, Frank. As Frank hustles up a drug deal that turns south, he suddenly finds himself in a week long scramble to get on top of a bad situation. When bad goes to worse, he turns on his closest allies and faces the final reckoning alone. But he may just be in too deep! "Pusher" is a solid action picture. Frank's relationship with his cohort Tonny is played extremely well. His desperate machinations are a doomed excursion to the darkside and have a black humor that's uncomfortably appealing. Not the most original story in the "Pusher" arsenal, but it works really well regardless. 4 stars.

"Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands" is easily my favorite film of the trio. Why? It is understated and surprising and, of all the films, the most unique. Tonny (the terrific Mads Mikkelsen) returns from "Pusher." Some time in the future, Tonny is being released from prison and Tonny must reestablish his place in the outside world. A disapproving father, who just happens to be a crime boss, doesn't help matters. Tonny finds it difficult to be taken as a real player and is a doormat for those that surround him, both professionally and personally. Tonny actually starts to prove that perhaps he is the most worthy character amidst a barrel of bad apples and a final act of redemption is oddly heartfelt. 5 stars.

"Pusher III: I'm The Angel of Death" reintroduces Milo--a boss who has played a supporting role until now. Like a mad comic opera, "Pusher III" has Milo making dinner for his daughter's birthday party, juggling rehab meetings (he's 5 days clean), and trying to maintain business as usual with his crew. When a drug deal sours (that happens way too much!), Milo's perfect day loses all sense of balance and Milo is drawn into an unpleasant series of events leading to human trafficking. Milo's bratty daughter is a hoot as are his attempts to shanghai the addict's meetings. But ultimately, it's Milo's drug fueled descent (based on both morality and pride) that is nightmarish and unforgettable. 4 1/2 stars.

Each film works and succeeds on its own merits! But if you get the "Pusher Trilogy" and watch them in conjunction, it is a movie making magic. Together, I easily rate the product at 5 stars as the three different films enhance the others. Perfection. KGHarris, 1/11.
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on November 1, 2012
All 3 movies are amazing and some of the best cinema I've ever seen. Not for the faint-hearted. If you're a fan of, let's say, Pulp Fiction then perhaps this is the DVD box set for YOU!

UPDATE ON THE USA DVDs According to the box the first film of the trilogy is fullscreen and the other 2 in widescreen. But according to DVD TALK "the previous DVD release of the first film in the trilogy from Anchor Bay presented the movie in 1.66.1 anamorphic widescreen which is supposedly the film's original aspect ratio. This release from Magnolia picture presents the first film in the same aspect ratio (the packaging says fullframe - it's not) but the picture is not 16x9 enhanced."

The Anchor Bay DVD of the first film however DOES say on the box it's enhanced so it could be preferable to the first film in this newer box set.

In the UK box, the first film is in widescreen and the other 2 are 4:3 I don't know if the first film is also anamorphically enhanced in the UK. I'll have to figure that out.

The Anchor Bay release of the 1st film not only is anamorphically enhanced but supposedly also has commentary and a 5.1 surround mix that aren't present on the Magnolia box set. Looks like you need both for the full package. So in this case, if you get both, no need for the UK box set at all.
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on January 13, 2014
we can count on to make truly interesting films-while they mahy not all be"knocked out of the park" they are at least interesting, as original as can be,and sometimes truly magical for the eyes & mind-as for these they hit some sweet spots & are not by the # remakes of scorcese or tarantino-which is seemingly always the case when dealing w/ these genre types-so for that alone they are worth your time-and if U r patient refn's will ultimately satisfy! that is my most humble opinions.
Respectfully yours,
vthing666
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on June 6, 2013
Who'd have thought it; a set of gangster films set in Denmark?! Most people outside of Denmark think Lego, Danish pastries and bacon, and that's about it!

Anyway, I saw the first of the trilogy a good few years ago now, and really enjoyed it. I was surprised that there had been two new films with some of the same characters from the original movie.

The first movie is about Frank, and a drug deal that goes wrong, and, more and more, Frank finds himself in a pickle, and things go from bad to worse. We also meet Milo, a scary ganglord, and Tonny, a sort of bald-headed loser and friend of Frank, who ends up getting a battering from Frank. This is a really good movie.

The second movie is about Tonny, who is played by the excellent actor Mads Mikkelsen, in the first two films. He has got out of jail and finds he is about to be a father; he is hardly good father material. Well, things go from bad to worse for Tonny too, and he ends up in one unhappy experience after another. This is also a good movie.

The Third movie is about the ganglord Milo, who is in all three movies. This is about an aging gangster who finds that he and his territory is being encroached upon; and he doesn't like it. It also involves his daughter's marriage, and we see Milo juggling his square world with his underworld, and a drug addiction, and like a juggler he tries to manage all three; not too successfully as it stands. This is also a shocker, as you'll find out when you watch it!!! Not for the squeamish in any way!!!

So, this sheds some new light on Denmark, but these are excellent films that transcend this little-known corner of Europe, and for my money rate as some of the best gangster/underworld dramas ever made.
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on August 19, 2013
When I had first bought this trilogy on Amazon I went to play the first disc and it would not read. I tried several dvd players, computer, xbox, and got nothing. Discs 2 and 3 worked fine. So, I wrote Amazon and they sent me another trilogy and I had the same problem. Then they sent me another trilogy set and still the same problem. I decided to keep the trilogy set and wrote Magnolia an email explaining how I purchased the trilogy and the 1st disc just wont play. They were quick to respond with an apology and within a week they sent me a replacement copy of the 1st Pusher movie which played perfectly. The Pusher movies are awesome and I'm glad I was finally able to see all 3. If you have any troubles with the first disc I recommend emailing Magnolia before you decide to give up and return the movies to Amazon because they were pretty quick to fix the problem to make me happy.
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on September 1, 2014
Great crime dramas. Beautifully shot, I love spotting the 90's Alternative bands posters in this trilogy (The Nixons Foma Album poster for one) Pusher III is the most hard hitting and i felt extremely sorry for Milo. The sequel is the weakest in my opinion but it is still a good movie. For those who like the director or love crime dramas and gritty movies then this is your trilogy. The extras are great too.
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on December 23, 2014
Pusher 3- what a great film. The other two Pushers are ok, but they can't touch the awesome scope and genius that is Pusher 3. Milo is a great character who flows through this movie like a fish in water. I only bought this trilogy because I saw Pusher 3 on Netflix. Pusher 2 is the second best in the series. Tonny is a complete idiot, but we can all empathize because we have moments of complete stupidity as well. Pusher 1 is the weakest and least interesting, but since it began the style of film for these other movies, it has RESPECT. Frank is a jerk and deserved what he got.
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on June 15, 2014
Anything Mads Mikkelsen does is solid five-star golden. The second film in the trilogy left me standing and cheering at the top of my lungs, what movie does that! All of the characters in each film were so real and became a part of my world, simply forgot I was watching a dvd, these guys were in my parlor! I highly recommend this set, in case that wasn't clear.
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