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Overall Rating
3.22

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Worth A Look: 22.22%
Just Average77.78%
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1 review, 3 user ratings


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Outrage (2011)
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by Jay Seaver

"Kitano retreats to the safety of the yakuza."
3 stars

Takeshi Kitano has apparently been doing unusual stuff lately, with "Glory to the Filmmaker" and "Takeshis" apparently being considered weird for even Japan. Those projects haven't been doing quite so well, so Kitano has gone back to the material that he's best known for, making his first crime movie since "Brother" came out a decade ago. It seems like he's been accumulating ideas - there may be two movies' worth of story in here, which makes things a little crowded.

The setting appears to be Kobe, and the chairman of the local yakuza is displeased with a few things. Apparently Murase (Renji Ishibashi) and his family are dealing drugs where they are not supposed to, but Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) is reluctant to take action because he and Murase became sworn brothers in prison. Thus, it falls to Ikemoto's former protege Otomo (Kitano, credited as "Beat" Takeshi), now a boss himself, to settle things. The trouble is, it's tough to hit on exactly the right response without looking weak or inciting further retribution. Things get further complicated when one of Otomo's men, Ishihara (Ryo Kase), commandeers the embassy of a small African country to set up a casino that the police can't touch.

I must admit - I often just don't get yakuza movies. I love Japanese cinema, and I think director Takeshi Kitano has done some very good movies. Mob films aren't my favorite, true, but I like some (Hong Kong's Johnnie To is especially good) and I usually can at least understand what's going on. Something like Outrage, though, has me scrambling to take notes so that I can figure out the hierarchy and obligations of the characters. It's not that complicated, really, but there's no exposition or new recruit that can serve as a yakuza-for-beginners primer. It's a little bit more confusing, perhaps, because while the two story lines are related, Kitano gives the audience a large chunk of the "retribution" story before spending some time on the embassy one and then starting to tie them together.

Once things are established, though, Kitano genuinely does have a pair of storylines that could each sustain its own film. It's a little difficult to have all the players straight early on in the film, but the escalation of things between the Ikemoto/Otomo and Murase families - abetted by the capricious whims of Sekuichi (Soichiro Kitamura), the Chairman who should be trying to keep the peace and facilitated by crooked cop Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata) - is clever once it gets into a rhythm. The bullying of the Gabananian ambassador into opening an Otomo-run casino in his embassy is both a clever idea and filled with a slightly more jovial form of black humor than the movie's other half. Neither story has a great ending - one (almost literally) gets discarded on the side of the road and the other has a lot of betrayals and killings that seem to come out of nowhere.

That's kind of par for the course with this sort of crime movie, and Kitano is aware enough of the situation for two of the survivors to have a laugh about how, yeah, the killing just keeps going once the ball's rolling. A <I>yakuza</I> movie veteran, Kitano knows what plays to the base, delivering a slickly-photographed movie (his first in the wider "scope" ratio) that never looks too down-market without getting ostentatious and peppering it with bloody and creative outbursts of violence that are nevertheless dispassionate.

Kitano also, after long practice, knows how to use his face and slumped body to communicate the grind of Otomo's long association with this business. There's heavy age to all the clan heads, with Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, and Soichiro Kitamura all playing their bosses as withered and in some way frail, whether it be physical or mental. Indeed, there's a sort of stratification among the cast, with Kippei Shiina, Hideo Nakano, Tomokazu Muira, and Tetta Sugimoto playing the more engaged seconds in command (Fumiyo Kohinata's Detective Kataoka probably belongs to this group), and then Ryo Kase displaying the most keen intelligence and ambition.

Maybe there's a message in that, especially once "Outrage" reaches its blood-soaked finale. Kitano hasn't been shy about using his recent films to comment upon his own career and there are times when he seems to be less the ambitious young gangster or capable underboss than the complacent head of a family - though of course, those heads can still be surprisingly lethal at times.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20634&reviewer=371
originally posted: 12/13/11 22:02:06
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2010 Festival de Cannes series, click here.
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User Comments

7/20/12 Sean Harrison Great movie, but too slow for its own good. 4 stars
3/19/12 mr.mike Decent gangster flick. 3 stars
12/01/11 PAUL SHORTT DISTURBING BUT POWERFUL 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Dec-2011
  DVD: 31-Jan-2012

UK
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Australia
  02-Dec-2011
  DVD: 31-Jan-2011




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