After a decade-long hiatus from the genre, Kitano “Beat” Takeshi is back in full swing with Yakuza crime drama Outrage. Written and directed by Takeshi, who also stars in the film, Outrage follows the growing conflict between the Sanno-kai and Murase syndicates, and the subsequent civil war between the lower families of the Sanno-kai. A brilliant and brutal portrayal of the changing Yakuza landscape in modern Japan, the movie does not attempt to over-educate the audience on the traditions and culture surrounding the Yakuza. Instead, it presents a political upheaval from the moment it begins to the moment it ends and leaves you to enjoy the escalating violence as it borders on absurdity. However, this deadpan delivery of a story of numerous families and their members can certainly leave one confused, and it was only during my second viewing of the film that I was able to successfully comprehend the true extent and structure of the various families.
Well known for his comedy in Japan, Takeshi brilliantly threads black comedy throughout the movie without overplaying it, which can catch you off guard at times, such as finding yourself laughing as two men yell at a third, pressuring him to slice through his own finger with a box cutter. Where the movie shines most though is in its moments of silent storytelling. Takeshi is clearly a master at letting his actors tell the story without the need for dialogue, and these moments are so beautifully shot. But the good comes with the bad, and Outrage’s shortcomings exist in its treatment of its female characters. None of the female characters are named, neither during the movie nor its credits, and at no point does their existence significantly affect the plot. This certainly does not serve the film. The few women in Outrage could have easily provided an alternate insight into the main characters, although this certainly would have complicated things further. But if not, it would have been best to eliminate them altogether.
Outrage is a thrilling, beautifully shot and often humorous portrayal of the brutality and absurdity that exists within the Yakuza. With excellent silent scenes and a great balance of exploited and stylised violence, this is an easy film to enjoy. Just be sure to have a pen and paper on hand to keep track of who’s who, and who’s still standing
The Podfather Score: 6.875/10