Cannes Review: Beat Takeshi's Japanese Mobster Film Outrage
by Alex Billington
May 18, 2010
A few days ago I watched my first Takeshi Kitano film. I'm not sure why I haven't seen any of his previous films (he's directed quite a few), but I was excited to check out his newest Cannes entry Outrage, a modern Japanese mobster film that's literally just two hours of yakuza yelling at each other and killing each other in brutal ways. But I'm now a Takeshi Kitano, or Beat Takeshi (as they call him in Japan), fan because I dug the hell out of this film. It's one of those totally badass Japanese mobster flicks that anyone can kick back and watch with friends and totally enjoy just because it's so damn crazy. There's not much to it, but it's great.
Without any dialogue or a voiceover or anything, we learn that there are numerous crime families that rule most of the Japanese underworld. They're governed by honor and respect and at the top is the "Chairman," as he's called, who cannot be touched. We follow the story of one Ikemoto crime family that gets into a fight with another family after one of his henchmen spends a lot at a club and can't pay the bill. We watch as even the Chairman orchestrates killings and revenge plots against families and various "underbosses" until each one slowly kills off everyone from the other family. Unfortunately the overall plot was convoluted and got a bit confusing right around the middle, including figuring out who was trying to kill who, why, and so on.
In essence, Outrage is a story about all of the old mob bosses being replaced by a younger, new generation. Underbosses eventually betray and kill their bosses and no one is safe, even if they try to become a "citizen" and leave the mob world behind. The only problem is that there's no real direction, or point, to the story, but it almost doesn't really matter because we're just here to watch all of this unfold in front of us, watch as the story twists and turns, watch as the Chairman manipulates various mobsters into killing each other. And if that sounds like something that you'll be entertained by as well, then you'll enjoy Outrage as much as I did.
It's a fun film to watch and there are plenty of great performances all under the skilled direction of Takeshi Kitano, who also stars in the film as one of the mob bosses Ôtomo. As my first experience with Beat Takeshi, I'll admit I've quickly become a fan, and will be exploring his films as soon as I return from Cannes. And for everyone else who wants to get a taste of the Japanese underworld, Outrage is the perfect film to check out.