The chances are very high that someone reading a review on an indie film site is relatively au fait with the world of cinema and has at least a decent working knowledge of the film-makers currently making waves in Hollywood and elsewhere. Takeshi Kitano is certainly a familiar name for many but, for those sadly uninitiated in Kitano’s world, the man is just another Japanese name. How depressing.
Imagine if Paul Merton, deadpan comedian and long-standing team captain of leading politicomedy panel show Have I Got News For You, was also a singer. And a gameshow host. And a poet. And a film-maker who also edits, writes, and acts in his own films. Basically, imagine if Paul Merton and Guy Ritchie became one person with one career that traversed both of the circles that the two are based in. That man would be Takeshi Kitano. Ever wondered who the Takeshi in Takeshi’s Castle is? He’s Takeshi Kitano, aka Beat Takeshi, aka the man who helped to make Japanese cinema what it is today, without making a single crappy horror film about the revenge of a girl with freaskishly long hair. Outrage is his latest film.
Kitano started life making films about the Yakuza but, after a life-altering motorcycle accident, he decided to ‘do a Dylan’ and change his style completely. He made a series of incredibly contemplative films like Hana-Bi, Dolls, and Kikujiro, before beginning to revert back to the hyper-violent, almost cartoonish escapades of his earlier work. His style has softened, but scenes of sudden, shocking violence remain throughout.
Outrage is more yakuza-based fun from Kitano, and plays out as an escalating war between the various chains of command that make up the Yakuza. When Seikiuchi (Kitamura Soichiro) finds out that the Murase family are invading the Sannokai’s turf, he tells his under boss Kato (Miura Tomokazu) to stop them at any cost. He gives this task to his subordinate Otomo (Beat Takeshi, aka Takeshi Kitano), who puts his own crew on the case. What follows is an ever increasing series of hits and near-misses that threaten to kill everyone involved.
Outrage is more standard fare than we’re used to from Kitano, and isn’t helped by the fact that it is ever-so-slightly baffling. With the Yakuza not quite as socially prominent in the UK as they are in Japan, it’s difficult to keep up at times with who is doing what to whom. Another personal issue with the film is that Kitamura Soichiro, known as Mr. Chairman throughout the film, spends most of the time wearing a grey Mao-style suit, vaguely pompadour hair, and a pair of yellowing glasses – this has the unfortunate effect of making him look more like the Kim Jong-Il doll in Team America than Kim Jong-Il himself. This was incredibly distracting. Aside from these small criticisms, the film was good and certainly made for entertaining viewing. The story was genuinely difficult to predict and contained some very surprising moments – the scene with the chopsticks in the noodle bar being one. Also, if anyone planning on watching this film is a fan of little fingers, maybe give this film a miss – they’re dismembered so often that they fly around the film like currency.