Year: 2010
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Region of Origin: Japan
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: R
35mm, Color, 109 mins

Synopsis: The boss of a major crime syndicate orders his lieutenant to bring a rogue gang of drug traffickers in line, a job that gets passed on to his long-suffering subordinate. (Source)

Despite owning both Sonatine and Zatoichi, I’d never seen anything from legendary writer/director Takeshi Kitano, or “Beat” Takeshi. Thus far, my only experience with Yakuza film has been a steady diet of the many zany, off-the-wall and  hyper-colored hits of Seijun Suzuki, but as you can imagine I jumped at the chance to see Takeshi experiment with the very genre that helped him leave an indelible impression on eastern cinema. After seeing Outrage, I can say that his highly esteemed reputation is well deserved. It’s is one of the most brutally primal crime movies I’ve seen in a long time, and any fan of hard-boiled, no-nonsense crime dramas should be hard-pressed not to enjoy themselves.

The story involves a power struggle deep within the inner-workings of a Yakuza clan. It starts with a warning from Sanno-kai underboss Kato (Tomokazu Miura) to right-hand man Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) to keep an unassociated Murase’s (Renji Ishibashi) drug trafficking business in line. The task gets passed down to Ikemoto’s longtime subordinate Otomo (played by Takeshi himself), after which a downward spiral of violence, shifting-loyalties and animalistic power-struggles take place. You follow? It only gets crazier from there, and it’s best not to ruin any of the plot’s shifty surprises. It’s the type of genre where there are absolutely no heroes, a characteristic that the movie wholly embraces. These are terrible, selfish and corrupt people who don’t care about honor or bravery and instead are on a perpetual journey to only one-up each other, asserting their vain and empty form of territorial dominance whenever possible. To add insult to injury, there are only a couple of characters here who do their own dirty work, with most passing on every menial task to whomever they can, only adding to the complex web of setups and short-lived alliances. Takeshi is aware of the absurdity of the story he’s written, and everything is well-paced and dripping in irony, with an irreverently dry wit that turns into a nagging dread as the movie’s situations escalate. It’s also amazingly acted by all involved, with Takeshi’s own Otomo exemplifying both the movie’s only semi-empathetic character and the story’s dark lack of heart.

Fittingly, it’s impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning the unabashed violence on screen. It’s portrayed so nonchalantly and unexpectedly that in spite of its absurdity it never feels like comic book violence and never fails to take the viewer by surprise. While there is a lot of brutal gunplay throughout, I found myself constantly surprised by how disturbingly creative a lot of the deaths are, even standing up to most horror movies while remaining realistic. Razor sharp box cutters, dental instruments, chopsticks and some things which won’t be spoiled here are used to make even the most desensitized viewer cringe or laugh at the brutality.

Outrage is savage and unflinching in its resolve to deliver the type of cold-blooded action movie that could only come from the east. It’s a beautifully shot sonata of flying body parts, splattering blood and egos. In a sense, it plays as an inverse movie of this year’s impressionistic and wholly cool Drive. None of the characters in Outrage are able to keep their cool, instead verbally abusing each other continuously throughout, while never holding back on physical violence to assert their dominance. Instead of abstract interpretation, we’re treated to a tale that shows the violent Yakuza underworld as a true animal kingdom. Blissfully overt ’80s style electro is replaced with a genre-bending, expressionistic electro score from Keiichi Suzuki, which acts like a propulsive force to drive the characters’ unraveling control over their situations. Outrage is unlike any movie we’ve seen out of Hollywood in some time.

Crome Rating: 3.7/5

SG