Frank (Kim Bodnia), the protagonist of Nicolas Winding Refn's debut feature Pusher, was a likable everyman who also happened to be a drug dealer in a lot of trouble. In that film, Frank's associate and sometime-friend Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen, soon to be seen as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) seemed to be a bird of a different feather: His shaved head (complete with "RESPECT" tattooed across its back), lithe body and careless attitude suggested a man who wanted to be seen as a tough customer -- someone to be feared. In reality, though, Tonny was more interested in drinking with his friends and talking about sex than actually taking part in the violent, dangerous life that surrounded him. Despite his efforts to the contrary, he looked more like a naïve kid out for adventure than he did a hardened criminal.

In Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands, Tonny is forced to the foreground, and proves himself to be both more and less than he seemed. In the years between the two films, Tonny has grown from a scrawny, energetic kid into a strangely vacant adult, completely lost within his own life. The movie opens with him on the receiving end of a jailhouse monologue about how fear is the only thing that separates those who run the world from the sorry masses; once fear is conquered, one can do anything. Tonny listens blankly, the relevance of the story lost on him. Instead of comprehending what he hears, he simply stares until the speaker mentions the money Tonny owes him. Because the man knows and respects Tonny's father -- known to everyone as the Duke -- he's willing to work with Tonny to pay back the debt. Otherwise, he would not be so kind. The problem is solved when Tonny, clearly at his debtor's bidding, starts a prison-yard fight that results in him being outnumbered and badly beaten. Though Tonny's initial attack was brave, his wild flight afterwards was not; his fear remains firmly in control.