Efrain’s review published on Letterboxd:
Nicholas Winding Refn returns with Ryan Gosling in another Ultra-violent, Art house film about a respected drug smuggler who runs a Thai boxing club with his brother. When his brother is murdered, his mother comes urging him for vengeance. That's all I can simply describe about this film because everything else was so perplexing to me both in a positive and negative way. This is definitely a flawed film but its also has a lot of fantastic visuals accompanied by another great score.
The narrative was so confounding to me. A revenge story was all I initially got from it. As well as learning the character Chang was in reality the main character not Gosling. That's how I saw it. At first glance there isn't really any character depth at all, but if you look metaphorically at them you could plainly see they are in all fact metaphors. An aspect which could have bothered me but didn't.
There is a ton of violence and sexual imagery, which puts Drive to shame in that aspect, that will definitely sway some movie goers if not most. They didn't bother me either. They were all handled well for the most part as I too am fascinated by violence in film. Though, there are some scenes which I felt were unnecessary. Most of it was stylistically shot with beautiful neon colors. I was really mesmerized by these symbolic shots and not being able to analyze it at the same time. I'm not someone who "studies" these things, for example, Chang was standing there with this certain lighting so this must mean that. This film was filled with that kind of symbolic imagery and it demanded my attention even more. Later on, I was able to understand the way Chang is the "god" character and Gosling is the character who wants to fight "God" and Julian's mother is the Devil.
Nicholas Winding Refn has certainly made another piece of poetic Art which is both polarizing and fascinating, where every violent act has a consequence. I'm sure regular movie goers will hate it. If you're looking for true art. You've got it and Refn is a master at it.