×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Outrage

Takeshi Kitano doesn't try to do much new, but the results are so visually stunning, why quibble?

With:
With: Beat Takeshi, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura, Tetta Sugimoto, Takashi Tsukamoto, Hideo Nakano, Renji Ishibashi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Soichiro Kitamura.

While erstwhile king of yakuza epics Takeshi Kitano doesn’t try to do much new in “Outrage,” the Japanese multihyphenate’s first such nihilistic bloodbath in the decade since “Brother,” the results are so visually stunning, why quibble? Focusing on the absurdly ultraviolent tit-for-tat tussles among a trio of Tokyo crime families, the film is a beautifully staged marvel that confidently reasserts Kitano’s considerable cinematic gifts. Unlike his ’90s masterpieces “Sonatine” and “Fireworks,” “Outrage” boasts a narrative that’s intricate only in linear fashion, to the likely benefit of worldwide B.O.

Kitano’s trilogy-long sojourn into the territory of self-reflexive (many would say self-indulgent) dramas (e.g., “Takeshis”) has left his core audience hungry for the filmmaker’s return to the gangster movie. “Outrage” satisfies that craving with its bevy of grisly setpieces, each carefully designed to bring the genre another step closer to horror.

Suffice to say the film isn’t for the squeamish. The yakuzas’ weapons of choice include not only pistols and machine guns but chopsticks, a coiled snake, dental equipment and, most spectacularly, a dastardly combination of rope and automobile. The borderline farcical severity of bodily perforation here would be irredeemable if not for the finesse with which these moments are, um, executed by the director, who wields his own tools with the darkest glee.

The pic’s savage mayhem is set in motion by a simple conversation, wherein it’s revealed that the Chairman (Soichiro Kitamura), boss of the ruling Sanno-kai family, has become upset over the Ikemoto clan’s connections to Murase (Renji Ishibashi) and his crew. Needing help, Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) asks the all-knowing and super-cool Otomo (Kitano, billed per usual as Beat Takeshi) to keep the peace by stirring up trouble.

Incrementally, petty humiliations across the clans give way to brutally aggressive displays of power. After one yakuza has been slashed with an “X” across the face and another has been beaten to death, Otomo agrees to take care of the situation, promising Ikemoto he’ll rough up old Murase a “little.” This he does in an act of rogue dentistry far exceeding that in “Marathon Man.”

The philosophical explorations of violence and its consequences, distinguishing features of Kitano’s ’90s work in the yakuza genre, are essentially nowhere to be found here. Still, the director’s control over the narrative is drum-tight in a film whose intertwined incidents demand — and reward — one’s close attention. Halfway through, the violence temporarily subsides, only to resume with even greater force. By the final reels, it’s all-out yakuza war.

The film’s large ensemble of actors takes palpable enjoyment in playing these toughs and their victims. As Otomo, the generally deadpan Kitano even cracks a faint smile or two. Playing Ozawa, Tetta Sugimoto flaunts an evil grin worthy of Richard Widmark in “Kiss of Death.” As Otomo’s loyal underling Ishihara, Ryo Kase, in brown-tinted shades, is rivetingly implacable. Women, naturally, are scarce in the picture, although Otomo’s g.f. appears long enough to be chastised viciously by her beau — for disliking his new car. (Obviously, much worse is to follow for her.)

Tech credits are superlative, particularly Katsumi Yanagijima’s gliding, richly dark cinematography, Keiichi Suzuki’s playfully synth-laden score, and a sound design that sends bullet casings hurling to the surround speakers while keeping the punches squarely in one’s face.

Outrage

Japan

Production: A Warner Bros. (international) release of a Bandai Visual, TV Tokyo, Omnibus Japan, Office Kitano production. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida. Directed, written by Takeshi Kitano.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Katsumi Yanagijima; editors, Kitano, Yoshinori Ota; music, Keiichi Suzuki; production designer, Norihiro Isoda; set decorator, Tatsuo Ozeki; costume designer, Kazuko Kurosawa, Yohji Yamamoto; sound (Dolby Digital), Senji Horiuchi; supervising sound effects editor, Kenji Shibasaki; line producers, Shinji Komiya, Makoto Kakurai; associate producers, Katsuji Umezawa, Tadao Hanashi, Yoshinori Takeda; assistant director, Hirofumi Inaba; casting, Takefumi Yoshikawa. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (competing), May 16, 2010. Running time: 110 MIN.

Cast: With: Beat Takeshi, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura, Tetta Sugimoto, Takashi Tsukamoto, Hideo Nakano, Renji Ishibashi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Soichiro Kitamura.(Japanese, English dialogue)

More Scene

  • Director Peter JacksonWarner Bros. Pictures THEY

    Peter Jackson Talks Transition From 'Hobbit' Movies to World War I Documentary

    Peter Jackson remains a bit astounded at his transition four years ago from the Shire of Middle Earth to the French battlefields of World War I. Jackson introduced his documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” Friday night at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood, four weeks after it aired on Armistice Day on the BBC. [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • Children's Defense Fund

    Angela Bassett, Conan O'Brien Honor Young Students at Children's Defense Fund Gala

    Awards season may be right around the corner, but on Thursday, Hollywood took a break from the glitz and glam to celebrate five high school students who have excelled academically despite facing extreme adversity both at home and in the classroom. The 29th annual Beat the Odds Awards ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center featured [...]

  • Dolly Parton attends the world premiere

    Dolly Parton Hopes to Perform 'Dumplin'' Song at the Golden Globes

    It’s not easy to upstage Jennifer Aniston. But everyone at Thursday night’s premiere of her new Netflix flick, “Dumplin’,” seemed to be singing the praises of Dolly Parton, who earlier in the day received a Golden Globe nomination for “Girl in the Movies,” one of half a dozen new songs she wrote for the film. [...]

  • Lena WaitheVariety's Power of Women, Arrivals,

    Who Lena Waithe Thinks Should Replace Kevin Hart as Oscar Host

    Lena Waithe thinks Kevin Hart could have handled his Oscar debacle in a much better way. “I kind of wish that he would have taken a moment to let it be a teachable moment and to say, ‘Hey, what I said wasn’t right and I want to make that right,’ not just to keep the [...]

  • Christie Brinkley32nd Annual Footwear News Achievement

    Christie Brinkley at 64: 'Women My Age Cannot Allow the Numbers to Define Them'

    Christie Brinkley may be turning 65 next year, but don’t you dare try to tell her what she should — or shouldn’t — wear. “I think women my age cannot allow the numbers to define them. We need to constantly redefine the number,” Brinkley told Variety on Tuesday at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in New [...]

  • Gerard Butler, Haim Saban and Cheryl

    Why Haim and Cheryl Saban's $50 Million Donation to Academy Museum Almost Didn't Happen

    Haim and Cheryl Saban’s $50 million donation has landed them their name on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures building on Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, but the billionaire philanthropists’ contribution to the project almost didn’t happen. During Tuesday’s unveiling of the restored exterior of the new Saban Building (formerly the historic May Company department [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content