Review by David Cirone
In Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage, violence comes suddenly and at full force, often preceded by brief, polite conversation. A successful character study disguised as a standard yakuza crime drama, Kitano returns to his signature gangster genre (there’s a ten-year gap between this release and 2000’s Brother), stacking the film with great actors like Jun Kunimura as Ikemoto, Kitano’s benefactor turned enemy, and Kippei Shiina as Kitano’s right-hand man. Kitano himself (performing as alter-ego Beat Takeshi) is typically grounded and realistic, fitting right into his role as underworld boss Otomo, who gets caught in a battle for power between his superiors.
Outrage proceeds at a leisurely pace but benefits from a tight running time and precise, understated editing (also from Kitano). Humor pops up unexpectedly, sometimes in the most tragic moments, but when the blood flows, it’s bright red. Kitano wrote the script around an outline of “new ways to orchestrate violent and murderous tactics”, and the script goes out of its way to earn them. “I intentionally shoot violence to make the audience feel real pain,” Kitano mentions in the production notes to the film. “I have never and I will never shoot violence as if it’s some kind of action video game.”
Outrage leads us back (admittedly, willingly so) into Kitano’s authentic view of the yakuza world, where he contrasts its drab, makeshift offices and dark alleyways with lush hostess clubs and backroom casinos, all locations filled with danger ready to be triggered by the wrong word or miscalculation. Look hard to find the happy ending here, it’s elusive.