Beyond Outrage (2012)
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writers: Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tomokazu Miura, and Fumiyo Kohinata

The Plot: This sequel to Takeshi Kitano’s 2010 film Outrage takes place in the years following the events of the first movie. Otomo (Beat/Takeshi Kitano) is shown serving time in prison with very little interest in the yakuza life. However, the police are soon rattled when a government official is revealed to have been murdered in what appears to have been a yakuza execution. Corrupt detective Shigeta (Yutaka Matsushige) is placed on the case along with his straight-edge partner, and Shigeta immediately begins investigating the new leader of the Sanno-Kai syndicate, Kato (Tomokazu Miura). Detective Shigeta instigates as much turmoil in the Sanno-Kai syndicate as he can, but when his first attempts to cause internal struggle within the group is foiled, he turns to Otomo in order to find an ally. Otomo had a falling out with the Sanno-Kai, but will he be pressured back into “the life”?

The Review
Takeshi Kitano, no matter what he does in his career, will always be remembered as a true pioneer and innovator within the world of crime cinema. Best known in his home country as a brilliant comedian, Kitano made his name with the rest of the world by making films that combined sudden violence with poignant reflections on life. Films such as Sonatine and Hana-bi showcased this brilliantly, but after he reached his peak during the 90s, Kitano started to veer away from the crime genre with varying levels of success. Dolls was a relatively popular title for Kitano, but after Zatoichi (arguably his most successful film in the West), his style started to become far more experimental. While his work seemed to go into a more personal direction, the results seemed self absorbed and lacking in entertainment. Skip forward to 2010, and Kitano returns to the world of crime cinema with his most concentrated gangster effort yet: Outrage. A surprising film to come from the director, Outrage was considered a return to form by most, but it was drastically different than anything the director had ever done before. A gangster film through-and-through, Outrage showed no concern for emotion or nostalgia. Yet, this new harder edge for Kitano gave the movie spirit and made it one of his most successful films in years. And as the credits sequence promised during the first film, there would be a sequel. So, here we are, with Beyond Outrage, the first sequel in Kitano’s career. Could the movie live up to the previous film and is it a return to the gangster-heavy aesthetic of the first movie? Does it see Kitano return to his more existentialist work from the beginning of his career? The answer is conflicted, but in many ways the answers are all yes.

Beyond Outrage is about as direct of a continuation as you could imagine coming from Kitano. The story shows a clear narrative line from the first movie, as we get to see the after effects of our first movie. Unsurprisingly, the characters are every bit the same as they were the first go-around. However, there are slight stylistic changes coming out of Kitano within this film. The movie hearkens back, in small degrees mind you, to the more focused and emotional side of Kitano. While the first movie brought up many cliches when dealing with the criminal element, speaking to the darkest side of the human experience in order to build the most quintessential yakuza film that he could make, this sequel shows Kitano experimenting with well-known devices and trying to build upon them rather than regurgitate them. Think about this, Beyond Outrage is a movie that contains an old-school gangster who is released from jail, but finds himself at odds with contemporary criminals. This same criminal tries to leave his past behind him, but is unfortunately pulled back into his former lifestyle by old enemies and allies. Sound like familiar plot devices? Well, they are. Carlito’s Way is a movie that features both of these elements, and it expounds upon both themes in great detail. However, Beyond Outrage is about as different as you could get from Calito’s Way, and it is considerably different from just about any other crime film you can think of too. Darkly comedic and featuring a plot that is expertly crafted, Kitano demonstrates an inherent knowledge of crime cinema.

While Beyond Outrage is every bit a procedural crime drama, just as the first movie happened to be, it does come across as being a bit more devoted to its characters and the world that they inhabit. Thinking back on the original film, it seemed to be far more focused on the grit and the grime. While it had some lighter moments, and it did have memorable characters, the over-the-top violence and never-ending scenes of carnage typically overshadowed these elements. This is why the first film worked tremendously well as a piece of satire. Yet, Beyond Outrage allows just a bit more humanity to enter the picture. While the movie still remains focused on the inner-workings of the yakuza, Kitano poses more questions to the audience and better reflects contemporary issues. While we know that modern Japan isn’t rife with gunfire or littered with bodies from yakuza gang wars, there is a move within the Yakuza to put up a front that shows them as being much more legitimate than they likely are. While these groups still play in the dirt of narcotics, human trafficking, and of course pornography (legal and illegal), they are very visible within the public eye and the games that they play with the police happen to be very real. Beyond Outrage showcases this duplicitous side of the business, and when Kitano’s character is released from prison, he finds himself at odds with these criminals who want to pretend to be straight – but are still scared of the criminals who have no interest in the stockmarket.

Technically, Beyond Outrage is as solid as Kitano gets. He still uses his lingering shots to develop atmosphere, he still uses sudden bursts of violence to reflect the permanence of death, and he still knows how to make movies that can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. Similarly to the first movie, Beyond Outrage relies on toned-down colors that reflect the urban atmosphere of city life. All in all, the movie does fulfill the visual requirements needed for a Takeshi Kitano film, which is to say that it is partially an art film on top of a genre picture. Performances are also, as expected, top of the food chain. The standout from the cast would probably be Ryo Kase, who returns once again as the villainous Ishihara. With equal bits venom and cowardice, Ryo Kase may not be the main villain that Takeshi Kitano’s Otomo is searching for explicitly, the levels of violence that this character dishes out helps him steal the show. Hideo Nakano, who plays Kitano’s sidekick this time around, is played with a great deal of conviction and even with a hint of sadness. He is a fallen king of sorts, a man who is stripped of his former (criminal) family, and he only seems to live for revenge. Of course, Kitano can not be overlooked either. For the first third of the movie, Kitano’s Otomo spends a considerable amount of time offscreen. It gives Kitano’s character a bit of mystique, but due to the way the plot develops, Otomo tries to throw much of it away. He attempts to shed his criminal ways, but once the inevitable takes place and he is pulled back in, Otomo showcases a very violent temper. As a man with no luxury for subtlety, one of Otomo’s greatest moments comes during a sequence where he and Nakano are supposed to be pleading for help from a different yakuza faction – but his pride, as well as his anger with the contemporary yakuza, gets in the way and he ultimately goes into a classic bit of yakuza rage.

The Conclusion
Ultimately, your enjoyment for this second Outrage feature may be directly related to your enjoyment of the first film. While there seems to be a more concentrated effort this go-around to be a bit more socially conscious, this is still a very grizzled piece of cinema. If you love crime cinema, you may walk away loving this. It gets a four out of five.