I haven’t seen all of Ryan Gosling’s movies, but after watching Only God Forgives at the recommendation of a friend, I got to thinking: Who is the most powerful Gosling? At least out of the work I’ve seen. Naturally this meant a journey to IMDB. He hasn’t made that many action movies, unfortunately, so the pickings are slim.
#3. Only God Forgives
The first that comes to mind is Julian, a drug smuggler gang leader living in Bangkok. He also has really intense family issues. He’s sort of like a Darth Vader character to his incredibly vindictive and abusive mother, who is the Emperor.
The impression I get is that Julian from OGF isn’t exceptionally powerful, but then impressions are really all you can get from movies like OGF. I think it’s classified as neo-noir, and it’s so stylized at times that it’s a little hard to tell if you’re watching a movie or a music video from the 80s where a guy walks down a hallway for 80 minutes. Still, though we see little, Julian has a menacing presence but doesn’t seem to shine at fighting as much as the other Goslings.
In this fight, according to wikipedia, he is fighting the Angel of Vengeance, so it’s expected that he’d lose. I find the fight entertaining to watch pretty much for the reason why the movie is entertaining: it’s just so stylized. It might as well have been a fight scene from TRON: Legacy. You’ll note that he’s fighting in a kind of muay thai style.
From the same collaboration that brought you Only God Forgives comes Drive. Driver in this movie does a much better showing than Julian, his body count has to be more than double.
Think of the Driver as Frank Martin from The Transporter, Transporter 2, and Transporter 3. Only, the Drive universe is way less fun and all about darkness, gore, and violence. The Driver drives people around and then later kills a bunch of people.
Like OGF, Drive is super stylized. It’s basically the same genre as Only God Forgives and Le Samourai (Jean Pierre Melville). Anyway, while Julian is menacing, the Driver is basically an engine of surprising violence. I think he edges out Julian by right of his incredibly high capacity for brutality. He doesn’t seem to have a distinct fighting style, he’s just really good at beating people to death it seems.
#1. Young Hercules
Warning: You might want to mute this video.
Hercules is the son of the god, Zeus, and goes around fighting CGI monsters in Fantasy Greece New Zealand. Judging from some interviews, his fighting style is kind of a derivative of kung-fu wire fighting. Considering that his physical prowess alone outstrips any mortal Gosling, and on top of that his job is to beat people up in close combat, it’s obviously no contest. Young Hercules is the clear winner here, easily beating the Driver (who cannot bludgeon Young Hercules to death) and Julian (who is probably proficient at kick boxing but can’t possibly even hurt Young Hercules).
On top of all of that, Young Hercules is the most likeable Gosling of the Powerful Goslings. Julian and the Driver are basically monsters, and I don’t care about them at all. Both of them take the weird stereotype of the silent brooding type to almost a 1960s French movie level of ridiculous.
While obviously this list will have to change as Gosling’s career continues, I think for the moment I’ve got this pretty locked down.