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Only God Forgives (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Films- 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 90 minutes
Genre: Drama/Crime

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas , Vithaya Pansringarm
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 22, 2013

"Time to Meet The Devil"

Film Synopsis:

Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.

My Take:

Only God Forgives is the tale of a crime family seeking justice against the murder of one of its own. Set in the dark underworld of Bangkok, Julian (Ryan Gosling) and his brother run a Thai boxing club, which is just a front for their real business, the family's drug dealing. When his brother is killed, their mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas in a performance that is sure to blow you away, travels from the states to seek revenge on those responsible. This pits the family against Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), the policeman responsible, who has dedicated himself to his own brand of justice within this seedy world of prostitution, drugs and filth.

The big question was could Writer/Director Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling live up to their new cult classic of 2011s Drive? Drive is one of my favorite films in the last few years so I was looking forward to another surreal, brutal, dramatic mood piece and that is surely what it was set out to be. It delivered in every department, with stellar acting, great visuals and sound, except it failed in the most important- the story. This is a very "fill-in-the-blanks" film, trying to make its simplistic and rather pedestrian plot seem deeper then it really is, by making us think. Think of what? That's the question. Why each character acted how they did, did what they did, what they thought, what really got them in the place? Hey, if we have to think then it must be deep, right? I call BS here. You can make a movie on long shots with no dialogue, cool cinematography with different hues and it will fool some us into thinking the lame plot must be deeper since you left most of it up to us. Me, I felt empty at the end, and not in the punch to the gut way Refn so hoped. I can see many disagreeing with my take, having the mood and look be enough, and enjoying the rather un-fleshed out narrative. The funny part is I have a feeling Refn does have the answers to all the questions as well as deeper character development and back-story. Unfortunately he electing to not delve into it. It could have been great if he did.

Parental Guide:

Rated R for strong bloody violence including grisly images, sexual content and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Video: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Only God Forgives comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25.8 mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps

Only God Forgives shines on Blu-ray, and this is its saving grace. All the artistic elements of the cinematography, color choices and finer details look incredible here. There are moments where the very dark scenes (and there are many of them) fold a little bit, losing some shadow detail and a bit of noise seems to spike up. That is being nit-picky as most every shot looks absolutely terrific. Colors pop through in the dark scene in a way we don't see too often, and fine details are noticeable on faces, walls...everywhere. It's a gorgeous looking transfer of a gorgeous looking movie. The lossless DTS-HD MA track starts off with a scene in the Bangkok fight club and it is a prime example of all that this track can do. Guttural LFE mix with a this dynamic and precise track. Spectators are heard in a 360 degree sound-field, the films score is spread wide with dialogue mixed in very well. I really enjoyed this presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • Feature Commentary With Writer/Director Nicolas Winding Refn

  • (HD) Behind The Scenes

  • (HD)Director Interviews

  • (HD)The Music of Only God Forgives with Cliff Martinez


Final Thoughts:

Fans of cinema are sure to take a liking to Only God Forgives, forgiving its narrative faults and claiming it to be art and that it doesn't always need to be spelled out. I agree there are films that approach works for, but here it didn't and it left me empty inside, which was its intention. Unfortunately I was left a bit underwhelmed, not with the life sucked out of me, which is the empty it seemed to be gunning for. Gorgeous to look at, with an amazingly daring performance from Kristin Scott Thomas, and superlative HD visuals and lossless sound make it worth a viewing, just don't expect much replay value here.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review Systems:

JVC DLA-RS56 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5509 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Theater Grand 7201 Amplifier
Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triad InRoom Gold LCR's
Triad OnWall Silver Surrounds
2 Triad Silver OmniSubs

Panasonic TC-P65ZT30 3D 1080p Plasma
Marantz NR1603 Receiver
Sony PS3 (HDMI Audio/Video)
MKSound MP-7 LCR's
MKSound SUR-55T Surrounds
MKSound SB-8 Subwoofer
post #2 of 12

I am with you Lee. I found this to be bereft of a solidifying narrative and characters you cared about.

post #3 of 12
Thanks for the review Lee! I will probably rent this one.
post #4 of 12
Huge letdown here , I loved Drive too.
post #5 of 12
This is one of the worst movies I have seen... ever. With the exception of the cinematography, nothing worked. Just a long drawn out mess that was void of character development, dialog, action, story, etc. But it looked pretty.
post #6 of 12
I'm of mixed opinion on it. It went in directions I wasn't expecting but I would have preferred a bit more dialogue. Overall I didn't find it as fulfilling as Drive but it does leave a lot to the imagination in a way that Valhalla Rising does as well. It is a bit too much style over substance though, which I can see as a definite turn off for some.
post #7 of 12
Never heard of this one," was this straight to video?"

post #8 of 12
Originally Posted by Djoel View Post

Never heard of this one," was this straight to video?"



Not sure Djoel. It may have seen a limited theatrical release.

post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post


Not sure Djoel. It may have seen a limited theatrical release.


Thanks Ralph, I'm so out the loop these days I can't keep up with these Artsy flick as I use to.

post #10 of 12
Spectacular drop from "Drive." Only thing I learned was don't mess with Asian karaoke singers in Bangkok.
post #11 of 12
Watched last night, fantastic Blu-Ray, both Video and Audio. Seemed like ritual, color saturation among the best. Again Audio was amazing.
Reminded me of Mishima. Enjoyed Drive more, but will buy this for it's unique look and feel.
post #12 of 12
A film worth watching on BR. Very deceptive with multiple layers. The sound track is simply stunning because it is so immersive and there aren't many that are its equal. Received from Netflix on release day, watched, and then immediately ordered.
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