A NEW Yakuza story?
Mr. Chairman Kan’nai (Sôichirô Kitamura), or just “Mr. Chairman,” finds out that one of his underbosses made a pact with an outsider to the Yakuza family. While Murase (Renji Ishibashi) doesn’t deny the brotherly agreement with an outsider, Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura), he is still issued an order to break the agreement. Murase has tasked Otomo (Takeshi Kitano), an underboss, to dissolve their ‘brotherly’ relationship. Without question, Otomo ends the agreement with extreme efficiency.
As always, when one crime family is struck, it is honorable for them to retaliate. One by one, members of the Murase and Ikemoto family are killed in a dizzying display of tactical vengeance. Eventually, Otomo realizes that there is something more going on–and the feudal killings and yubitsume (the cutting off of the tip of the sword hand pinky finger, a Japanese ritual to atone for offenses to another)–an honor that no longer holds the same respect as it once did–reluctantly realizes that it is his time to move on. But not before he pays a visit to all those who betrayed him.
As in many organized crime films, there are always concerns for those who are in power and want to remain in power. There are alliances made that are profitable for few unfavorable for the majority, but there will always be someone eyeing the big prize, who will sit back and watch as everyone kills and brutally maim one another. Immediately after the dust clears, predictably, someone will step up to take out the one who started it all. Not all organized crime films follow this predictable path. Unfortunately for Outrage this is exactly what happens.
Kitano’s Outrage begins to lose track from the very beginning and fails to truly establish the ‘who’s who’ within the ranks early on. It is immediately apparent who “Mr. Chairman” is and who the next in command is. Aside from Kitano (as himself; or ‘Beat Kitano’ in the film), and the legion of black suits; the only other discernible character was the African diplomat who served only as an easily manipulative persona, and was subjected to a few racial references: when a body had to be buried in the dead of night, the diplomat was abandoned, digging a hole for a recent rival kill, and told he need not worry about being attacked because “no one would see him” in the dark.
Aside from the ‘ultra-violence‘ witnessed–and there is a lot of it–Outrage just feels…different–a different kind of gangster film, almost poetic in some ways. What is missing here is some inner dialog or understanding of where his mind or emphasis is during all the chaos. There wasn’t an opportunity to become ‘attached’ to anyone character. The film was forceful, brutal, and void of the criminal romanticism you find in certain organized crime films that offer you a resilient anti-hero of sorts.
Other than the insignificant deficiencies in character personalities aforementioned, Outrage is a violently brilliant film. Simply put, it is a gangster film, about one of the most ruthless crime families in reality. Kitano gives viewers what they want without lollygagging around or boring you with too many of the details. The film looks good, the camera isn’t all over the place and when there was a brutal execution scene–you are there, front and center. There are also those moments of peace, those poetic moments that come in-between all of the brutal beat-downs on-screen. It is as if Kitano allows you these moments to digest the horror you just witnessed, before throwing you eagerly back into his brutal eye for an eye killing spree.
Outrage is–as to be expected–a relentless ‘action-packed,’organized crime thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat, wincing at the mercilessness displayed on-screen. Especially if you can get through the “dental chair” scene.
If you can, well, good for you.