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Outrage Beyond – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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As the police launch a full-scale crackdown on organized crime, it ignites a national yakuza struggle between the Sanno of the East and Hanabishi of the West. What started as an internal strife in Outrage has now become a nationwide war.

One of the world’s most renowned modern Japanese directors, Takeshi Kitano returns once again to the yakuza underworld with his sequel to 2010’s Outrage, with the prior film not exactly do too much to elevate Kitano’s craftsmanship as a director, let alone prove his skills as a writer. It was a film that was plagued with a strange combination of dark humor and senseless displays of violence, which could have easily worked if its script was only improved. With Outrage Beyond, Kitano luckily brings about a crime drama that removes much of what made its previous installment somewhat of an oddity to watch, instead focusing intently on the political maneuvering and spiraling effects that past decisions have in the yakuza. It is also a film that provides a more coherent narrative as well, which is certainly a relief considering the previous film but also presents Outrage Beyond as a rather conventional take on the yakuza genre.

While the nature of Outrage’s narrative was marred by its unusual execution, Outrage Beyond’s narrative is handled with the utmost care as to not completely confuse the viewer with all the internal strife, murder, and power struggling that takes place between the film’s characters. Taking place several years after the first film, Outrage Beyond starts out as a rather standard exploration of two rival yakuza clans being manipulated by the corrupt detective Kataoka, played here by Fumiyo Kohinata. Kataoka’s presence within this film is even more prominent than before, alluding heavily to him as being the proverbial man behind the curtain controlling both gangs for his own opportunistic gain. Once Kitano’s character of Otomo enters the picture – a surprising move by Kitano to have his character make a return – Outrage Beyond essentially transforms into that of a no holds barred brutal war between the two rival clans, with Otomo once again being at the epicenter of all the chaos.

For those viewers who are only slightly familiar with other films centered on the yakuza, Kitano’s approach towards the material in the film has all been seen and done before, even within many of his previous films. But Outrage Beyond does attempt to tie up many of the loose ends left over from its predecessor, providing a story centered on Otomo and his need to correct the misfortunes in his life. It also explores how old yakuza members are unseated by younger, more inexperienced members of the clans and the influences they have in a contemporary world that is focused more on increasing their income rather than retaining their honor. But considering these elements of the film, Outrage Beyond never truly reaches the emotional nor cerebral heights of Kitano’s other films. For all the quirks found in the first film, that film seemed more emotional involving due to the systematic destruction of the Otomo clan and its members, whereas here it is really a battle between two rather despicable clans and an equally despicable detective.

But the political structuring of organized crime is nonetheless a compelling facet of Outrage Beyond, if only for its exacting focus on how such a structure can easily be manipulated by outside forces. It would appear that Kitano is making a statement on the ruthlessness – both in the underground and civilian world – that transpires as individuals are constantly situating themselves in positions of power to gain even more power, becoming trapped within a vicious cycle of personal destruction. It is certainly a more subtle examination over the previous film, remaining grounded and rarely overstating the obvious. Going along with its subtlety, the film is far less stylistic this time around as well, particularly when it comes to showcasing violence, which is often left off screen entirely and only showing us the devastating aftermath. Those looking for Kitano’s trademark violence will have to look some where else, as the exuberant violence is rather minimal compared to the previous film.

It is also a film that seemingly confines its characters within a brutal world of distrust, dishonor, and eventual murder, exploring more of the dynamics of the yakuza. This is not to say that the film is a complete departure from that of Outrage – where escalated violence took precedence over a lot of the character development – but here we learn much more about the characters and how they continually coerce the situation to work out in their favor. Kitano is seemingly aware of the complexities that can arise with directing a film concentrated on the devious and intricate criminal underworld, but he does a proficient job at streamlining the narrative compared to its previous installment. Outrage Beyond is a film that provides a superior examination of the yakuza lifestyle more so than the first film, even if it does not establish itself as one of Kitano’s best films. As a stand alone film experience, Kitano does offer a satisfying – and suitable – conclusion to Otomo’s quest for revenge.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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