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Pioneer and the 10 best Scandi thrillers

Pioneer

Feature by Guest writer

TELEVISION in particular has seen a particular boom in successful Scandinavian shows making their way into homes of audiences here in the UK, but let it not be forgotten that cinema has had a fair bit of Scandinavian content trickling through for quite some time now, with many names in the Hollywood spotlight (Refn, Mikkelsen, Rapace, Coster-Waldau, etc.).

With the Blu-ray and DVD release of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s Pioneer (rumoured to be set for a US remake by George Clooney and Grant Heslov) arriving on August 4, 2014 from Arrow Films, we take a look at the ten best examples of the Scandi thriller.

Pusher (1996)

Before Drive and Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn made Pusher, a Danish crime thriller which launched his ensuing career. The film follows drug dealer Frank (Kim Bodnia) who grows increasingly more desperate when a botched drug deal leaves him with a large debt owed to a ruthless drug lord. Many have deemed Pusher the first Danish-language gangster film.

The Hunters (1996)

This 1996 Swedish thriller follows a police officer who moves back to his hometown in Norrland where he starts working on a long-running case of reindeer poaching only to discover his brother’s involvement. Going down in history as one of the biggest box office hits in Sweden, talks of an American remake were scuppered when director Kjell Sundvall decided he didn’t like the idea of translating events of the film to cowboys poaching horses in the Nevada desert. A sequel – False Trail – starring character actor Peter Stormare followed in 2011

Pusher II (2004)

Nicolas Winding Refn returned to this universe in sequel Pusher II, which instead follows Frank’s sidekick Tonny (an early role for Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen) in the same fictional Copenhagen underworld depicted in the first film. Refn reused many stylistic flourishes which he featured in the first enhancing the thriller aspect more so in this sequel.

The Millennium Trilogy (2009)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Adapted from Stieg Larsson’s posthumously published trio of hugely-acclaimed novels, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was brought to life by director Niels Arden Oplev , whilst both The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest were helmed by Daniel Alfredson. The films are led by former journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) at the centre of an unlikely love story set to the backdrop of an extremely bleak Sweden in which the two of them uncover unspeakable horrors of men victimising women.

Easy Money (2010)

This Swedish thriller from director Daniel Espinosa stars Joel Kinnaman (2014’s RoboCop) as Johan Westlund, a poor man living a double life in the upper class areas of Stockholm. Upon meeting a wealthy female, he is lured into the world of organised crime turning to drug dealing in order to sustain his luxurious lifestyle. A Hollywood remake is due to be released, with Zac Efron filling Kinnaman’s shoes in the lead role.

In a Better World (2010)

Susanne Bier’s acclaimed Academy-Award winning Danish drama thriller follows two Danish families whose lives cross paths leaving loneliness and sorrow in its wake. Starring Mikael Persbrandt alongside Trine Dyrholm and Ulrich Thomsen, the film flits from small-town Denmark to an African refugee camp throughout.

Headhunters (2011)

Synnøve Macody Lund and Aksel Hennie

Norwegian action thriller Headhunters is based on Jo Nesbø’s novel of the same name, and stars Aksel Hennie and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the lead roles. The film follows a successful headhunter whop risks everything in order to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary, and successfully merges thriller with comedy. The film boasts the statistic of being the highest-grossing Norwegian film of all time.

A Hijacking (2012)

Tobias Lindholm’s Danish thriller (which he both wrote and directed) alternates between events occurring on a hijacked ship and those happening in the shipping company’s office back in Denmark. Many threw praise on the film’s ability to avert ‘conventional thrills’ steering the film into the direction of critical acclaim.

Pioneer (2014)

The Norwegian thriller Pioneer follows Petter, a professional offshore diver during the ’70s, tasked with laying the first petroleum pipe in the North Sea. Following a tragic accident during a test dive, he discovers that his superiors are attempting to put a smokescreen on the true events and that his life is at stake. This well-received conspiracy embraces the claustrophobic nature of the setting to deliver something altogether more thrilling.

Pioneer is released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 4, 2014 from Arrow Films.

Believe - Preview

Believe

Preview by Jack Foley

BELIEVE is a thrilling family adventure, set in 1984 and pays tribute to football legend, Sir Matt Busby, played by Brian Cox.

The film tells the story of his continued work to ‘train lads for life’ when he discovers an extraordinarily talented young tearaway on the streets of Manchester and makes a football dream come true, inspiring generations of dreamers and leaving the world’s greatest football team as his legacy.

Believe, directed by David Scheinmann and co-starring Natascha McElhone, Toby Stephens and Jack Smith, is available on DVD and iTunes on August 4, 2014

Win Believe DVDs and merchandise

To celebrate the release of Believe on DVD and iTunes on August 4, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 bundles consisting of the DVD, a football T-shirt, a poster and a football (World Cup replica). Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Believe?

Simply send the answer to Believe competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage - Preview

NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage

Preview by Jack Foley

TO celebrate the DVD release of NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage on 21st JULY, we’re giving away a copy of the DVD.

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment is proud to announce the UK release of NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage, coming to DVD on July 21, 2014.

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Sam Mendes (Skyfall) and the Bridge Project Company go on the road in NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage. Journeying across three continents and over 200 performances, this insightful documentary reveals the most intimate moments behind the scenes of their staging of Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Providing a rare opportunity to see Spacey on stage, the film entwines excerpts of performance with interviews with key members of the cast and crew.

NOW chronicles both the highs and lows of the first collaboration between Spacey and Mendes since both won Oscars for their work on American Beauty.

“We became a family by sharing unforgettable moments, practicing our craft… The success of the project was beyond my highest hopes.” – Kevin Spacey

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:

Q. Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes famously collaborated on one other title, what was it?

A) The Usual Suspects
B) Revolutionary Road
C) American Beauty

Simply send the answer to NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Terms & conditions

- Competition open to UK residents only

- No cash alternative is available

- Reasonable attempt will be made to contact winners to arrange prize before prize will be passed on to alternative winners

Ironclad 2: Battle For Blood - Preview

Ironclad 2: Battle For Blood

Preview by Jack Foley

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood, a bloody thirsty sequel to 2011’s Ironclad, storms onto Blu-ray and DVD on July 28, 2014.

A tale of honour, Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood follows Celtic raiders who, scorned by the loss of their land and the abuse of their people, wreak their bloody revenge on the British – one village at a time.

When the raiders set their sights on The De Vesci castle walls and patriarch Gilbert De Vesci (David Rintoul, The Iron Lady) is gravely injured, he sends son Hubert (Tom Rhys Harries, Parade’s End) to call on his battle-weary and reluctant cousin Guy (Tom Austen, The Borgias) – a survivor of the 13th Century Great Siege of Rochester Castle – for aid.

As the conflict escalates and Gilbert dies, his desperate wife Joan (Michelle Fairley, Game of Thrones) begs Guy to take any action necessary to defend her beautiful young daughters from the scourge of the Celts. Stirred by loyalty and love for the young Blanche De Vesci (Roxanne McKee, Hollyoaks) can Guy finally put the past behind him in order to save his family?

Launch into the fray when Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood is released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 28, or immerse yourself in the entire saga when both Ironclad films are released in a DVD box-set on the same date.

Win Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood on DVD

To celebrate the release of Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, July 28, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. What is the name of the under siege castle in Ironclad 2?

Simply send the answer to Ironclad 2 competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Watch the trailer:

Certificate: 15
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 28, 2014

Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess - Preview

 Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess

Preview by Jack Foley

FROM the world famous anime and manga series comes the feature length Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess.

Follow Fairy Tail’s dream team Natsu, Gray, Erza, Lucy, Wendy, Happy, and Carla as they lend a helping hand to a girl with little memory and a grudge against wizards. As they uncover clues about her mysterious past, a lunatic prince hatches a half-baked plan to sacrifice her in exchange for immortality.

When the fool unleashes an ancient force, a raging war becomes the fiercest inferno Fairy Tail has ever faced. Can the guild with a heart of gold save the planet from a fiery finish.

Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess is out to own on DVD and DVD/Blu-ray Double pack on Monday, July 28 from Manga Entertainment UK.

For more information on Manga UK releases, please visit the website

Buy it

Win Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack

To celebrate the release of Fairy Tail The Movie: Phoenix Priestess on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack on Monday, July 28, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Name any member of the Fairy Tail dream team…

Simply send the answer to Fairy Tail The Movie competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Shoot The Pianist - Preview

Shoot The Pianist

Preview by Jack Foley

FRANCOIS Truffaut’s classic 1960 French crime drama Shoot The Pianist is based on the novel Down There by David Goodis and stars Charles Aznavour as the titular pianist.

The story follows washed-up classical pianist, Charlie Kohler/Edouard Saroyan (Aznavour) as he bottoms out after his wife’s suicide. Indeed, he spends most of his time stroking the keys in a Parisian dive bar.

However, waitress Lena (Marie Dubois) finds herself falling in love with Charlie, only to find out that he is not who he says he is.

When his brothers get into trouble with gangsters, Charlie inadvertently gets dragged into the chaos and is forced to rejoin the family he once fled.

Shoot The Pianist is released for the first time on Blu-ray and on DVD by Artificial Eye on Monday, July 28, 2014.

Win Shoot The Pianist on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Shoot The Pianist on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, July 28, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who plays Catherine in Jules et Jim?

Simply send the answer to Shoot The Pianist competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Jules et Jim - Preview

Jules et Jim

Preview by Jack Foley

FRANCOIS Truffaut’s classic tale of a love triangle which takes place over 20 years, both before and after World War I.

Jeanne Moreau stars as Catherine, the beautiful and unpredictable woman who maintains a delicate relationship with two friends, the quiet German Jules (Oskar Werner) and the romantic Parisian Jim (Henri Serre).

The War intervenes and drives the men to the opposing fronts; afterwards, the two quickly resume their friendship, but the balance of their relationship with Catherine is now upset by more adult concerns.

Jules et Jim is released for the first time on Blu-ray and on DVD by Artificial Eye on Monday, July 28, 2014.

Win Jules et Jim on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Jules et Jim on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, July 28, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who plays Catherine in Jules et Jim?

Simply send the answer to Jules et Jim competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

The Legend of Hercules (Kellan Lutz) - Preview

The Legend of Hercules

Preview by Jack Foley

KELLAN Lutz (The Expendables 3) stars as the mythical Greek hero, Hercules, in this epic origin story. The son of Zeus is betrayed by his stepfather, a tyrant King (Scott Adkins; The Expendables 2) and sold into slavery.

Hercules must then embark on a legendary odyssey using his extraordinary strength to overthrow the king and restore peace to the land.

The Legend Of Hercules is an epic action adventure with mind-blowing thrills and an all-star supporting cast including Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Roxanne Mckee (Game of Thrones) and Gaia Weiss (Vikings).

Special features include The Making of The Legend of Hercules and audio commentary with Director Renny Harlin and Actor Kellan Lutz.

The Legend of Hercules is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, August 4, 2014.

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Win The Legend of Hercules on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of The Legend of Hercules on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, August 4, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs The Legend of Hercules?

Simply send the answer to The Legend of Hercules competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Enemies Closer - Preview

Enemies Closer

JEAN-Claude Van Damme is reunited with legendary filmmaker Peter Hyams (Timecop; Sudden Death) for a rare villainous turn even more gleefully deranged than his role in The Expendables 2!

After a major shipment of drugs goes missing on the US-Canadian border, forest ranger and former Navy SEAL Henry is plunged into survival mode when the drug cartel, led by the ruthless killer Xander (Van Damme), forces him to help retrieve the downed package.

Trapped in the wilderness with no communication to the outside world, Henry finds himself face to face with Clay (Orlando Jones), a man with a personal vendetta against Henry who has returned for retribution.

Now, the two mortal enemies must make a choice: put aside their past and work together, or die alone at the hands of Xander and his ruthless gang who will stop at nothing to retrieve their lost cargo.

Buy it

Win Enemies Closer on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Enemies Closer on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, July 21, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 copy on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Which director does Van Damme reunite with on Enemies Closer?

Simply send the answer to Enemies Closer competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

The Stag - Preview

The Stag

Preview by Jack Foley

EVER wondered what happens when metrosexual man meets the great outdoors? Well Fionnan is about to find out when The Stag arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from July 21, 2014 courtesy of Arrow Films.

Badgered into a stag do by his bride-to-be, Fionnan (Hugh O’Connor – TV’s Moone Boy, Chocolat) is determined to avoid the clichés of booze, babes and more booze and defers to his best man, Davin (Andrew Scott – TV’s Sherlock, Locke), to organise a sedate sojourn in the Irish countryside.

All goes to plan until Fionnan’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, The Machine (Peter McDonald – TV’s Moone Boy and Titanic) invites himself along – and with The Machine travels mayhem which materialises in the form of lost clothes, lost dignity and some hopelessly ill-equipped and very lost men…

Featuring pitch-perfect performances from a host of well-known faces, The Stag is a heart-warming and genuinely hilarious look at the twin modern curses of lost masculinity and unrequited love, set amongst the stunning scenery of County Wicklow.

Reassuring proof that not every Irishman loves U2, The Stag is the year’s best bromance – and with enough naked flesh to get the girls interested, too!

Read our special feature on The Stag and other Men at Play movies

Win The Stag on DVD

To celebrate the release of The Stag on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday, July 21, 2014, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Which Sherlock features among the cast of The Stag?

Simply send the answer to The Stag competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Certificate: 15
Running time: 94mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 21, 2014