×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Venice Film Review: ‘Outrage Coda’

The final 'Outrage' sees director/star Takeshi Kitano in muted form, though his onscreen persona is always a treat.

With:
Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Yutaka Matsushige, Ren Ohsugi, Sansei Shiomi, Hakuryu, Tatsuo Nadaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Taizo Harada, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kanji Tsuda, Tokio Kaneda, Ikuji Nakamura, Ittoku Kishibe. (Japanese, Korean dialogue)

There are approximately 10120 board configurations possible in the game of chess. And with his previous two films in the “Outrage” series, it felt a little like Takeshi Kitano was going to take us through them all. Recasting corrupt cops, corporate-style gangster middlemen, bosses and lowlifes as bishops, knights, kings and pawns, and moving their dwindling number around the board in ceaseless permutations, Kitano created a labyrinthine yet hermetically contained Yakuziverse in 2010’s lean, bloody “Outrage,” and 2014’s knottier, twistier “Beyond Outrage.” But as prepared as the series’ fans might think they are for the intensely talky, overpopulated and intricate rhythms of the trilogy’s conclusion, “Outrage Coda,” it’s undeniably a challenge to keep all the lines of loyalty and betrayal clear. With bloodletting kept to a minimum until the hour mark or so, it feels like Kitano has changed his game from chess to the less-spectator-friendly, more territorial Go — in which the possible configurations are at least 50 orders of magnitude greater and pieces are constantly added but nothing actually moves.

The film suffers somewhat from a sort of narrative exhaustion, with the gears grinding rustily in the opening act to get a new plot into motion after Kitano’s character, Otomo, had more or less killed everyone of note by the end of ‘Beyond.’ It especially feels the lack of the first installments’ genially two-faced policeman Kataoka, who was the yin to Otomo’s yang, eternally playing both ends against the middle, but having a grudging fondness for his ostensible adversary’s less politic approach to problem solving. Instead, ‘Coda’ gives us a couple of comparatively vanilla cop characters, whose underdeveloped motivations mean they never provide much of a foil for all the gangland infighting. Then again, that might not be so bad, considering the last thing this film needs is more men in dark suits with arcane agendas conspiring to betray their superiors, only to double-cross their co-conspirators.

Having slashed and burned all other bridges, then gone back to riddle them with bullets, Otomo is now off-grid on Korea’s Jeju Island working for regional boss/fixer Chang (Tokio Kaneda, always looking like he’s in the middle of a chemical peel). But when a vacationing Hanada (Pierre Taki), a mid-level member of Japan’s powerful Hanabishi clan, roughs up some of Chang’s prostitutes, Otomo is sent in to ensure reparations are made. (Incidentally, feast your eyes on the two battered call-girls, as they will be the last females you’ll see in the exclusively masculine, growly/shouty world of “Outrage Coda.”)

Obviously, Hanada decides it would be easier and cheaper to kill Otomo’s errand-boy and hightail it back to the protection of his powerful clan in Japan. Against Chang’s wishes, Otomo follows, accompanied by sidekick Ichikawa (Nao Omori, bringing a welcome rumpled charm) and so is drawn into the power struggle going on within the Hanabishi. Chairman Namura (Ren Ohsugi), an ex-trader who has no tattoos and served no jail time, wields authority but commands little respect from the old guard — generational tensions are an ongoing theme — including his second-in-command, Underboss Nishino (Toshiyuki Nishida), and Deputy Underboss Nakata (Sansei Shiomi). That’s a lot of three-syllable ‘N’-names to keep straight as the subtitles whip past and various underlings in identical tailoring discuss who’s loyal to whom. So it’s a testament to Kitano’s effortlessly sleek, inherently watchable filmmaking (he reteams with regular DP Katsumi Yanagijima and uses the atonal descending motif of composer Keiichi Suzuki’s score to good effect) that you’re just about kept in your seat throughout all the speechifying.

One of the distinguishing features of his work has always been how intelligently Kitano the director (Takeshi) uses Kitano the actor (“Beat”). And “Outrage Coda” is no exception: Kitano understands that Otomo’s inherently fascinating presence — his strange shuffling gait and his weathered, seen-it-all face, only rarely split by a slightly deranged, lopsided smile — is the film’s most potent weapon, and accordingly he deploys it sparingly. There’s relatively little of Otomo in the film’s first hour, and until the point at which he declares, simply, he’s going to “take down the Tokyo Hanabishi,” all the mayhem of which we know he’s capable remains latent.

Finally, we get the violent treats our patience deserves: the machine-gun-toting Otomo and Ichikawa engulf a ballroom of bad guys with a tsunami of bullets and blood squibs, then find inventive use for a ball-gag, a bomb and very long fuse. But though it ramps up to an enjoyably definitive ending (impressive given that the series’ ultimate moral, about the cyclical futility of the yakuza lifestyle, means it could easily be reset for another go-round) the final outrage of this final ‘Outrage’ might just be how little real outrage there is within a constant, repetitive coda.

Venice Film Review: 'Outrage Coda'

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (noncompeting), Sept. 9, 2017. Running time: 104 MIN.

Production: (Japan) A Bandai Visual, TV Tokyo, Warner Bros. Pictures Japan, Tohokushinsha Film Corp. and Office Kitano production. (International Sales: Celuloid dreams, Paris.) Producers: Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida. Co-producers: Kazumi Kawashiro, Tetsuo Ota, Kiyotaka Ninomiya.

Crew: Director, writer, editor: Takeshi Kitano. Camera (color, widescreen): Katsumi Yanagajima. Music: Keiichi Suzuki.

With: Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Nao Omori, Pierre Taki, Yutaka Matsushige, Ren Ohsugi, Sansei Shiomi, Hakuryu, Tatsuo Nadaka, Ken Mitsuishi, Taizo Harada, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Kanji Tsuda, Tokio Kaneda, Ikuji Nakamura, Ittoku Kishibe. (Japanese, Korean dialogue)

More Film

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling Created Her Own Opportunities (and Doesn't Plan on Stopping)

    Over the course of two hit sitcoms, a couple of best-selling books and some scene-stealing turns in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Ocean’s 8” and “Inside Out,” Mindy Kaling has cultivated an image as a kinder, gentler and more relatable star than most. On Instagram or Twitter, where she routinely shares parenting anecdotes and restaurant recommendations, [...]

  • Jimi Hendrix sound check Monterey Pop

    Film Constellation Adds ‘Show Me the Picture’ to Berlin Market Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    London-based sales and financing house Film Constellation has added Alfred George Bailey’s feature documentary “Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall” to its Berlin market slate, ahead of the film’s SXSW premiere. Submarine Entertainment is handling distribution in North America. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful [...]

  • 'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race

    'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race for France's Cesar Awards

    French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & Piano' TV Review: 'Russian [...]

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & Piano' TV Review: 'Russian Doll' Six [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off the news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best-picture nominee “Green Book” is set for more good fortune. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars on Feb. 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Stars, Entertainment Companies Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes

    Chinese film and TV stars and entertainment companies have forked over an additional $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) in taxes in the wake of last summer’s scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing and a subsequent government crackdown. The figure was announced late Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & Piano' TV Review: 'Russian Doll' ‘ROMA’ SPURNED [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content