Outrage (2010)

Director: Takeshi Kitano

After a number of years away from the yakuza film, Kitano finally went back to it with this somewhat curious exercise in avowed “popular entertainment” as opposed to the more obtuse arthouse business of his last few films. And yet Outrage is still pretty obtuse stuff itself, in its own way, more so even than some of his earlier work… The story is simple enough, basically you have a yakuza clan “sworn father”, Sekiuchi, who dislikes how one of his underlings, Ikemoto, has become chummy with another mob who aren’t part of the family, and he orders this other syndicate be dealt with. In turn, Ikemoto passes on the dirty work to his own underling Otomo (Kitano himself) and his gang. Whereupon business between them and the Murase gang gradually escalates, until the problem turns into internal issues within Ikemoto’s syndicate.

All of which sounds possibly more exciting than it actually is; Kitano’s actual storytelling method is to chop all this up into a lot of very short scenes (lots of varying aggressions back and forth between the various parties), which makes the viewing experience kind of jarring, and, at least for me, not terribly easy to follow at times, trying to work out who’s doing what to whom and why. At least I’m not the only one, though, and maybe another viewing will make it seem straighter. But I can see it being difficult to summon up the will for that second viewing, though; while the film’s somewhat remote tone does make the scenes of violence harder-hitting (don’t think I’ll forget that dentist scene in a hurry), it also makes the film in general kind of hard to engage with, with little sense of where if anywhere it’s going, and the characters don’t really help; only the fact that Kitano himself plays Otomo marks him out as the film’s major figure. I’ll hunt out the sequel, which looks like it might offer some actual payoff for this film’s set-up, but I can’t say I particularly like Outrage by itself.

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