Monday, October 3, 2011

MFF Film #28 Outrage

Japan, 2010
Japanese with English subtitles
Director: Takeshi Kitano

At a gathering with Mr. Chairman, the head of the Sanno-kai syndicate that rules over Tokyo, one of the crime bosses is admonished for his ties with an outsider and warned that he has to sever this relationship or suffer the consequences.  What begins as a fake attempt to do this turns into an all out war, with allegiances changing and people in power playing with human lives as if they were pawns.

Outrage doesn't have a tremendously deep story, though the intricate plots that are conceived in order to move in on others' territory and advance within the yakuza are entertaining.  The manipulation of outsiders is particularly scary (think "protection money" schemes by the mob, only more scary and desperate) and the power structure of the yakuza is actually kind of fascinating.  In one scene, a man can ruthlessly kill four or five people in the span of 30 seconds, and in the next he is cutting off his finger as a sign of honor and sitting prostrate at the feet of Mr. Chairman.  It is this kind of dichotomy that makes the relationships within the organization so complicated.

Outrage is sleekly shot and just plain cool looking, but it is extremely violent; not just people getting shot violent, but really up close and personal violent, so it's not a film for people with weak stomachs.  There are so many characters involved that there is no one who stands out as a great villain (other than maybe Mr. Chairman, who is the craftiest of all of them) or anyone to root for, but I don't think it was director (and writer and star) Takeshi Kitano's intent; we're just supposed to experience them as a group of gangsters and not really "root" for anyone.

This isn't a film for everyone, and truthfully, it doesn't have a lot of story, but if you're looking for a well made, entertaining film that is full of action and violence, Outrage is a good one to watch.  Plus, there are some really creative torture methods that will make you cringe but think, "Wow, THAT was clever..."  And let's face it: despite its shortcomings, Outrage is better than 80% of the action films that are released in the United States any day. 

MFF Ballot Rating: 3 out of 5

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