As the powerful Sanno-kai yakuza group calls a meeting of family heads to a close, the Head Chairman (Soichiro Kitamura) sets into motion a series of backstabs and plays for territory which will decimate countless yakuza members; both big and small. Leader of a small group, Otomo (Takeshi Kitano) carries out directed hits and scores but finds that the safety of his family is in jeopardy as various factions and plays threaten to turn the status quo of the Sanno-kai upside down.
The great Takeshi Kitano returns to the gangster genre with gritty and reckless abandon in the exciting and brutal film, Outrage. Written, edited, starring, and directed by Kitano, we get a real saga of betrayal and tragedy on a Shakespearean scale. Power plays and the juxtaposition of old school yakuza ideals and techniques versus the ambitious younger class of deception and strategy. Fans of classic yakuza films may be taken aback by the darkly comic and somewhat sadistic methods onscreen but it shows a distinct evolution from the honor bound traipses through rival headquarters.
Kitano headlines a stellar cast of young and old actors. The likes of Akira Emoto, Renji Ishibashi, Kippei Shiina share the screen with Takashi Tsukamoto, Ryo Kase, and Takeshi Kitano himself. The cast gets put through the ringer and the toughness and sheer testosterone onscreen is enough for 5 lesser gangster films. Kippei Shina especially gets major kudos for his sheer badassness and dominant screen presence. It’s a terrific performance that demands attention and I certainly sat up a little bit straighter even he showed up in frame. The large amount of talent does hurt the film with it’s numerous characters and some very surprising actors don’t make it to the final reel.
The film looks like a typical Kitano film with long cuts, perspective shots, and my favorite Kitano trademark, the absolute bloodbath in the final act. Keiichi Suzuki reteams with Kitano providing a somewhat pensive but oddly energetic score after his memorable work in the 2003 Zatoichi motion picture. A solidly shot picture, it is nice to see Kitano back in the director’s chair but in a genre in which we’re all familiar.
In the end, Outrage is a tough and manly crime film that puts most other recent gangsters films, regardless of country of origin, to shame. It is unapologetically brutal with some truly shocking scenes of violence to go with the macabre sense of humor and tragedy of the script. While it isn’t necessarily new territory for Kitano, it is a subject he knows well and can execute. The large number of threads and characters make it a bit on the difficult side to make order of, but by the end of the film it all comes together in a satisfying, if cautionary tone. Great entertainment and hugely engaging, Outrage delivers.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Brother, Sonatine, and Hanabi