outrage beyond

Outrage Beyond (Autoreiji: Biyondo)

Japan (2012) Dir. Takeshi Kitano

Following on from the events of the first film, the new Grand Yakuza leader of the Sanno-Kai syndicate, Kato (Tomokazu Miura), has seen his group’s power spread across the whole of eastern Japan to new levels of prosperity. Their influence is also widely felt, now reaching to high ranking police officers, including anti-corruption Detective Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata) who has been tasked with bringing the Sanno into line. Kato needs to re-establish his relationship with the Hanabishi-kai crime syndicate of western Japan, headed by Fuse (Shigeru Koyama), which Kataoka meddles in to start a war between the two sides, hoping they will wipe each other out. However a wild card is needed and Kataoka arranges for an early prison release for jailed Yakzua under boss Otomo (Takeshi Kitano) – believed dead by the Sanno – whom he hopes will seek revenge against Kato. Instead Otomo has ideas of his own.

While knowledge of the first film, Outrage, is fairly essential for understanding the main characters and how the Yakuza system works, this sequel can be viewed as a standalone outing since many of the cast are new and the situation is quite different. Whereas the first film dealt with an internal dispute among one Yakuza group, this film steps out this insular world to incite a national war of the Yakuza. Let the bullets fly!

After spreading his wings into more creative and often esoteric directions over the past fifteen years, the legendary “Beat” Takeshi Kitano returns to the genre in which he made his name as a director, the Yakuza movie. Still unashamedly – and creatively – violent with a flair for dark humour and silent intensity, Kitano continues his tale of the Sanno group and the ambitions for criminal superiority with a more focused but less violent tale of betrayal, bullets and bloodshed.

While Kato is the Grand Yakuza leader of the Sanno-Kai, it appears that the true motivational force of the group is his personally selected under boss Ishihara (Ryo Kase), who betrayed Otomo in the first film. Ishihara has everyone cowering in fear, even senior ex-bosses whom he has killed off after they paid a visit to Fuse to help oust the megalomaniac Kato. Even Kataoka is under Ishihara’s thumb, forcing him to employ underhanded tactics of his own to involve the Hanabishi group. In an interesting parallel, Kataoka’s police partner Detective Shigeta (Yutaka Matsushige) who has a clear distaste for Kataoka’s Yakuza connections and would prefer he remembered which side of the law he was on. As Shigeta accuses Kataoka of being more a Yakuza than a law enforcer Kataoka is more interested in the promotion he could get for running the Sanno into the ground.

Otomo’s return to the fold changes everything as Kataoka thinks he has him onside by securing his release, although Otomo said he is done with the Yakuza lifestyle and goes his own way. His first port of call is to settle his blood feud with former rival Kimura (Hideo Nakamura) and the pair end up calling a truce then working together to bring Kato and the Sano down once their gain control of Hanabishi, seeing their power stretch beyond their wildest dreams.

As before Kitano explores the code of honour among the Yakuza and how loyalty is a prime facet of that code, unless you have ambitions in which case you will betray those closest to you in order to advance your own career. It seems no bond or friendship is too precious when power and standing within your Yakuza family is concerned and no-one is safe. It is quite remarkable how many of the gang members effectively leave their doors wide open for their rivals to come in and blow their heads off but that is arrogance for you. Elsewhere the generation issue is addressed with the Yakuza elder still stuck to their archaic methods of keeping control and running their business, as opposed to young go getters like Ishihara who understands who the modern world works and uses it to his advantage, hence the impressive financial rewards the group had accrued in quick time.

Kitano fans will notice that the violence has been toned down quite considerably for this outing, relying on dialogue and intriguing games of intellectual and political cat and mouse to keep the story moving. However when things get nasty, Kitano shows he hasn’t lost his touch. He’s still handy with a drill and if he asks you to play baseball, refuse! Somewhat uncharacteristically, much of the violence occurs off-screen so we are quite often left with just the sound effects of a gun being fired then a shot of the fallout. Whether this means Kitano has mellowed or is chasing the commercial market we shall see, but this is quite tame compared to his earlier works – aside from Kimura biting his own finger off!!

Many of the narrative issues of the first film are tied up in this sequel but Kitano, forever the tease, ends on an abrupt note that leads the way for a third film. With many of the cast members from the original story now pushing up the daises, Kitano will have to create a new set of characters to keep the story going. It will be interesting to see if Otomo ends up ruling the Yakuza world or if a young lion appears from out of the woodwork to challenge Otomo or seek revenge for one of the many slain in this civil war of sorts. Whichever direction the story goes, a satisfying conclusion is a must after two open ended films.

Outrage Beyond is an interesting sequel in how it continues the themes and stories from the first film while subverting them towards a new direction. Preferences will differ towards the two films but this is a neatly crafted yakuza yarn that shows a new mature side to the legend that is Takeshi Kitano.