Celluloid Dreams The Directors Label


Entertaining mesh of inventive violence, black humour and an appealingly unglamorous view of Japanese underworld deal-making and clan loyalty… Outrage Beyond brings two fresh ideas to the yakuza table – the first is the idea of the clans as companies that feature the same levels of inefficiency, bureaucracy and in-fighting as their legitimate equivalents. The second is to bring a policeman into the mix, not as heroic crimebuster but as a sly manipulator of clan alliances. The world that Kitano paints here is one in which codes of honour are challenged by a new kind of realpolitik, both within the clans and the forces of law and order… This is a twilight yakuza world in which ‘sake pacts’ between clan brothers and father-son relationships between clan chairmen and their faithful lieutenants are seen more as burdens than badges of honour, to be wriggled out of through legalistic equivocation… Kitano reputedly built the whole script of Outrage around certain key explosions of violence, in which characters were killed or maimed in curious ways. Though we have to wait a while for the gore to kick in this sequel, when it does come it’s tasty enough, with a scene set in a baseball cage – where balls are fired at aspiring pitchers – among the most memorable. Out-and-out shouting matches between supposedly composed clan members are another forte of Outrage Beyond – a film that always has humour bubbling just underneath its hard-boiled surface.

The body count holds steady but the bloodshed is considerably easier to take in “Outrage Beyond”… the Japanese action aesthete plays it cool and smooth in a picture that exerts a steadily tightening grip… the writer-director largely withholds any substantial mayhem until well into the picture; when the violence does hit, it’s far less baroque and more constricted this time around, albeit just as carefully and beautifully choreographed… It’s typical of Kitano’s cynically bemused sensibility that (detective) Kataoka comes across as a meddlesome troublemaker in a world where cops are scarcely less corrupt than crooks… Much of the film consists of men in suits shouting thick, exposition-heavy threats at each other in darkened interiors, or else firing gunshots at their enemies’ invariably sleek, black automobiles, and Kitano seems disinclined to distinguish much between sides or simplify the intricate and ritualistic codes by which these mobsters operate… The overall formal elegance extends to the meticulous manner in which bodies are blocked and choreographed within the frame, whether standing stiff-backed or keeling over… the action-dialogue ratio balances out with a succession of swift, punchy setpieces. The aforementioned finger-slicing tradition gets a delicious spin, and baseball fans will relish the fate of one particularly unlucky customer. Somehow, the film manages to deliver the requisite payoffs without tilting over into graphic sadism (“Outrage’s” dentist drill has been replaced with a power drill here, but the ensuing splatter is carefully kept offscreen). More than one sequence achieves its grisly impact primarily through Yoshifumi Kureishi’s bang-bang, squelch-squelch sound design… Also doing their part to energize the proceedings are a few key actors among the film’s large, almost exclusively male ensemble. As the Sanno chiefs who find themselves cut off at the knees, Miura and Kase register a furious, spluttering impotence. Hideo Nakano again makes a strong impression as a scar-faced thug who finds himself teaming up with Otomo, despite their unpleasant shared history; and Shigeru Koyama, perpetually clad in traditional Japanese robes as one of the Hanabishi’s old guard, exudes malevolence from behind a steely countenance. But it’s Kitano who remains the most memorable figure here, a demon of death shown to brook no nonsense in the film’s blunt, perfect final scene.
Justin Chang, VARIETY

The cumulative payoff of nasty humor, intrigue and visceral kill thrills is considerable… Leaner on violence than 2010’s “Outrage,” this sequel should prove another hit in Japan while finding favor internationally among Takeshi Kitano’s culty fan base… The maverick Japanese writer-director-actor known for his vicious set-pieces and macabre sense of humor eventually delivers some lip-smacking pleasures in the slow-ignition yakuza thriller Outrage Beyond… The film becomes progressively more involving, breaking down volatile power structures, orchestrating crosses and double-crosses, and peppering the talky action with contained bursts ofmuscular violence and cruel comedy. Kitano has been making unconventional yakuza and cop films for more than two decades so it’s not surprising that his focus would graduate now to shifting styles of operation on both sides of the law. Much is made here of the erosion of traditional codes of honor and family loyalty, with disgruntled old-school mobsters being pushed aside for young hedge-fund hot shots. They run the Sanno organization much like a corporate entity, while the alter kockers grumble quietly about such things as meals no longer being served at executive meetings. It’s a droll vision of organized crime, and worlds apart from, say, the American, Italian or Russian equivalents… There’s also a distinct blurring of the lines between law enforcement, criminality,commerce and government, with intricate layers of corruption at every turn. Amusingly, one of the most morally bankrupt figures here is Detective Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata), a manipulative agent on the organized crime beat who heads an effort to chop the Sanno down to size… When the sharkskin-suited climber Ishihara inevitably gets his comeuppance, it’s in a gloriously comic death by baseball launcher, which is right up there with the most inventive and subversively funny of Kitano’s screen kills. That scene accelerates the body count of the film’s punchy final third… Holding off on the blood-letting for much of the running time, Kitano and cinematographer Katsumi Yanagijima frame the crime lords and their minions in elegantly composed power tableaux that vaguely recall Francis Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films… As always, Kitano himself is the most eccentric presence, a playful smile creeping across Otomo’s face as he applies a drill to the skull of some hapless pawn. (Though in keeping with this film’s unusual restraint, the actual gore is held to a minimum, mostly played offscreen.) Kohinata plays Kataoka a little broadly but provides useful running commentary. Sharper work comes from Nakano as the broodingly intense Kimura, who has one especially memorable moment of self-sacrifice; from Kase’s deliciously evil Ishihara; Koyama as wily operator Fuse; and from Toshiyuki Nishida and Sansei Shiomi as his scowling underbosses. They make the Hanabishi negotiation scenes among the film’s best…