DVD Review: Outrage: Way of the Yakuza

Outrage: Way Of The Yakuza DVDSTUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Takeshi Kitano | CAST: Beat Takeshi, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura
1/31/2012 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: making-of featurette, cast interviews, panel interview, premiere Q&A, Cannes premiere
SPECS: R | 109 min. | Foreign language crime drama | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | Japanese with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Takeshi Kitano, aka Beat Takeshi, is one of the most versatile individuals in contemporary Japanese culture. He has done everything from writing poetry and painting to sportscasting and hosting tacky gameshows. As an actor, he has played a wide variety of roles, but is best known for his turns as an unemotional yakuza. Outrage: Way of the Yakuza marks his return to the yakuza drama, and it offers all of the pleasures of a great gangster movie with the wonderfully precise visuals and editing that are characteristics of his best work.

Outrage: Way Of The Yakuza movie scene

Beat Takeshi takes out one of his many betrayers in Outrage.

Fans of “Beat” (his nickname for acting and standup comedy) are sure to embrace this 2010 film as American fans would a new western with Clint Eastwood. The movie’s plot consists of nothing but one betrayal after another, but narrative construction isn’t the point with Kitano — his films strip genres down to the bare essentials, and then present those essentials in a refreshingly off-kilter fashion.

For instance, the film contains numerous sequences of imaginatively nasty violence, but in nearly every instance, Kitano dotes on the insinuation (and aftermath) of the action, not the action itself. The cruel violence dished out by his characters is either glimpsed briefly or happens between the edits. (Along with being its star, Kitano also served as the film’s co-editor, as well as director, writer and executive producer.)

The joy of watching Kitano tackle such an overly familiar genre is watching him play with the conventions as he delivers the mayhem. Thus, it’s not a matter of who will die in this film — it’s more of a matter of when they will be killed by a deceitful “brother” yakuza and how the betrayer will do him in. (Women exist in this universe, but only as spouses and collateral victims.)

The DVD extras offer several interviews with Kitano and the other stars of the film, at a cumulative running time that is nearly the same length as the movie. The cast are as polite as they can be, but a few of the actors note their dismay at finding out that Kitano dislikes the rehearsal process, so he often skips over it entirely.

Outrage is not Kitano’s all-time best film (that honor would still go to the out-of-print Fireworks), but it serves as a good introduction to his very unique style of moviemaking. And as a potent reminder to never doublecross a Japanese gangster…

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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”