Monday, September 10, 2012


As much as I loved Outrage (one of the 20 best films of last year) I honestly didn’t think it would spawn a sequel (or a possible part three, judging how Outrage Beyond ended). As I mentioned in my Toronto preview for the pink smoke, almost everyone from the first movie died. My initial thoughts upon hearing of an Outrage sequel was: why make a sequel with damn near all new characters? Just make a new movie. But Kitano manages to pull things off nicely. With the lack of good and/or overrated mafia/organized crime films in recent years (Gomorrah and The Departed to name a few), Outrage and Outrage Beyond are a breath of fresh air to the genre. Over the years I’ve become a HUGE Takeshi Kitano fan mostly due to the discovery to his brilliant film; Sonatine (1994). I'll see just about anything he directs and/or acts in (especially his grittier work like Boiling Point and Violent Cop). He gets a pass on certain things that I give other filmmakers tons shit for and I don't fully know why (but hey at least I recognize my hypocrisies). He has this ability to tap in to my dark sense of humor unlike most directors working today. Anyone familiar with Kitano's career should know that not many modern Japanese actor/directors have the same kinda range and versatility as him. From violent existential gangster films like 'Sonatine' & family-oriented films like; Kikujiro to his darkly comedic portrayal as a twisted teacher in the post-lord of the flies/pre-hunger games/kids killing kids on a deserted island cult Classic; Battle Royale - he's kinda done it all. So basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m kinda bias when it comes to his work so take that for what its worth. But at the same time I DO understand that he’s an acquired taste and not everyone "gets" him. Take the audience at the TIFF screening the other day for example - by the time Outrage Beyond was over, I noticed a good chunk of the audience had thinned out.
Right off the bat I will say that watching Outrage Beyond made me miss the presence of "Mizuno" - (Otomo’s right-hand man played by Kippei Shiina who was killed off in the final moments of Outrage). Besides Kitano, Mizuno made the film so much more enjoyable for me with his evil performance kinda reminiscent of Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs. At the end of Outrage, a film you obviously have to see in order to follow Outrage Beyond, main character: Otomo (Kitano) is locked away in jail (although presumed dead by his enemies), all of his crew has been killed off (with the exception of Ishihara, who double crossed him in order to join forces with Kato who's now in charge of all yakuza activity after secretly killing off his predecessor at the end of Outrage). Outrage Beyond doesn’t really give any kind of summary of the first film or a brief synopsis for those who haven’t seen the first part. It really dumps you right in the middle of things from the start. As you can tell from the description, the plot can be a lil difficult to follow as there's a ton of double, triple & quadruple crossing.

In Outrage Beyond we pick up with Otomo after he's been let out of prison early (thanks to Kataoka, the corrupt police commissioner from the first film) so he can join forces with his former yakuza rival: Kimura (the man who's face Otomo slashes up in the first movie) to bring order back to the Yakuza that's become way too corrupt and infested with younger members who don’t show respect to the older generation of Yakuzas. Yes I realize it sounds odd saying that an illegal crime organization like the Yakuza has become TOO corrupt but in Takeshi Kitano’s world, the bad guys (yakuza) are the good guys and the good guys (the police) are really the bad guys. Kitano’s last two features have kinda drawn heavily from that vintage gritty world of old school Scorsese where dirty cops take payoffs and people get bumped off at the drop of a hat. And speaking of people getting bumped off, Outrage Beyond has quite a ridiculous body count in the final 45 minutes of the film (I honestly lost count). The few reviewers from the Venice film festival who reported that the murders were substantially less than Outrage must have not stayed for the last half of the movie (there's a particularly tough murder to watch that involves a drill). Now I will not lie, the first hour of Outrage Beyond does border on being rather tedious and boring. But if you can hang in there and manage to pay attention (it’s a bit difficult to keep track of who's who with so many characters) the last half of the film is a great payoff.
Outrage Beyond also makes a few subtle references to past Kitano films like Violent Cop and Sonatine.
Kitano's lead performance is just as laid back and apathetic as the old school ex-yakuza boss who's grown tired of the same 'ol boring life of execution style murders, finger chopping and double crosses ("there's even a moment when he utters the phrase: "I'm getting too old for this shit"). He has that "old man who doesn't give a fuck" swag in Outrage Beyond. He barks back and talks shit when a gun is pointed in his face and shoots people without blinking an eye. His stone face DOES make it difficult to determine whether something is supposed to be funny or not but I think that's part of what I like about him so much.
Unfortunately because there are so many characters in this film it’s difficult to remember another standout performance besides Kitano's. If you happen to be in New York City or the tri-state area there's a strong chance this will probably end up playing at The Japan Society just like Outrage did last year.

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