From time to time we will be reviewing films from our ActionFest Repertoire since there is so much great stuff that has played at our festival which is just now coming out on home video or is still upcoming. Outrage screened at ActionFest 2011 and recently became available on home video.
Review by Jacob Sahms
Takeshi Kitano directed, wrote, and starred in the latest yakuza movie to hit the big screen, and now your home entertainment system. Outrage is the mobster story he made to entertain us, where one low level mobster hacks off the tip of his pinkie finger, only to have Otomo (Kitano) slash an X-marks-the-spot on his face. It’s merely the beginning of a violent tale of retribution that will escalate through the remainder of the movie.
Crime boss Sekiuchi (Kitamura Soichiro) finds a prison saki deal between one of his underlings (Jun Kunimura) and an outsider named Murase (Renji Ishibashi) to be unacceptable, so he sets out to bring them in line. His right hand man passes the buck down the line to Otomo, who (with a stony disposition) carries out the subsequent beatings and murders with reckless abandon. So many insubordinate mobsters to whack, so little time. Of course, each act of violence brings a return that escalates the violence (a murder for a beating) until it’s all-out war.
There’s comic irony here, but it is black comedy. Each underling thinks that he’s the next man up, better than whoever is over him, and determined to climb the food chain. But the overall perspective that the audience can see is that none of them are all that smart. They’re like an army charging en masse at the oncoming army that out mans and outguns them in a style of war that expects an honor among thieves that doesn’t last.
Even as Otomo acts with violence predicated by his orders, he’s expecting a certain samurai-like code to rule the day. Instead he gets a dog-eat-dog scenario where the deals are crossed up by better deals, a word is not the bond between two men, and everyone would do anything to get ahead. It’s done against a backdrop of techno bass beat, with an abundance of dialogue and exacting violence interspersed throughout. Fans of mobster flicks will dig it, as the violence accelerates, each payment increasing on what came before. A beating requires a violent dental extraction which leads to chopsticks going where they don’t belong, and a soup you’d never want to eat.
Overall, the action is too far spread apart, and the dialogue too campy to warrant ownership. But if mob-related action gets your attention then Outrage is worth the viewing even if you need the English subtitles. Still, it’s like most of the great foreign flicks (think Pan’s Labyrinth): this story is shot well enough that it doesn’t matter if you can’t hear it with chopsticks in your ears.