“A [tense] (…) voyeuristic trip through the private spaces of the gokudōsha [that unfortunately is not able] to underline the futility of violence [in the same palpable way as its predecessor].”
When Takeshi Beat released Outrage (2010), it was clear that he personally wanted to try something different with the Yakuza genre he was already so well acquainted with, e.g. Sonatine (1993) and Hanabi (1997). Takeshi Kitano introduced more dialogue, changed the narrative into an ensemble piece, and aimed to create a documentary-like narrative of characters killing each other.
Outrage also marked the hope of Takeshi Beat to further develop the story into two more cinematographical chapters, turning Outrage into a trilogy. In 2012, Outrage Beyond, the second chapter, released and, after more than 4 years, Outrage Coda (2017), the final chapter of the narrative, saw the light of day. Before releasing our review of the final chapter, which will be screening at the international film-festival of Rotterdam, we are pleased to introduce our review of the second chapter.
5 Years later after the internal turmoil in the Sanno-kai, a car is found in the harbour. Inside are two bodies, one female and one male body. One of the bodies is identified as Yamamoto, a high governmental official. The department chief of the police suspects that the influence of the Sanno-kai and its boss Kato (Tomokazu Miura) has become too strong, believing that the syndicate is untouchable.
The chief appoints Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata), a detective from organized crime that already infiltrated the Sanno-Kai, to try to break their hegemony. With some well-thought-out dirty tricks, Kataoka tries to push the internal dissent within the Sanno-kai to the limits. One of those tricks, is releasing Otomo (Takeshi Kitano), the former boss of the Otomo family – thought to be dead, prematurely, in the hope that his presence will reignite the memory of old feuds.
Beyond Outrage‘s narrative knows a slow build-up, sketching the current situation of the Sanno-kai and revealing the sly unfolding of Kataoka’s plans, but this narrative slowness has one important purpose: to steadily infuse the narrative with tension (Acting-note 1). The succession of conversations – full of scheming and discussing strategy – sensibly reveals the emotional shift within the Sanno-syndicate, as Kato and Ishihara (Ryo Kase) – with the release of Otomo – start to lose their composure. By then, they are already, without knowing, caught up in Kataoka’s game of chess (Narra-note 1).
While violence is still important to the narrative – albeit its leaner and less shocking than in its predecessor, the (more purified) layer of tension nevertheless gives the aggression a similar impact, while evoking a sense of futility. In this respect, Otomo, in relation to the Sanno-kai, is nothing other than a stain threatening the stability of the current ‘management’, an incarnation of something real, an excess that threatens to dissolve the current constellation of the Sanno-kai as such.
Even though the violence, by way of revenge, reckoning and payback, gains a certain sense of what goes around comes around, the very presence of Otomo acts as nothing other than a critique of violence as such. While the violence changes the positions of subjects, the violence does not change the symbolic structure as such. In this respect, it appears as solely an instrument for personal revenge or protection, while remaining futile in changing anything structurally.
With its splendid approach to sound – thanks to Yoshifumi Kureishi, the narrative is able to truly empower the impact of violence. By using silence as a canvas, each gunshot or fist-blow that splashes on the screen is powerfully felt. But beyond these splashing bursts of violence – sometimes accompanied with a darkly humorous undertone, one only meets the detachment, the depressing indifference towards violence. Violence is business; violence is protection; violence is keeping power and/or making sure the internal ethical code of the syndicate is adhered (Narra-note 2). But violence is also what destroys the symbolic (business, protection, power) and rips apart the symbolic coordinates of the syndicate.
Outrage beyond‘s cinematography is a cinematography of movement. While fixed shots are present – and some scenes are completely framed with fixed shots, it is not hard to notice that the narrative is primarily painted with an arrangement of subtle moving shots (cine-note 1). A blend of subtle moving shots that, at some moments, enforce the voyeuristic feeling of intruding into the private space of the Sanno-kai syndicate and its different families, and, at other moments, often by its pairing with Keiichi Suzuki’s subtle music, infuse the imagery with a subtle threat that keeps on growing. The framing of the violence depends on the grade of composedness a certain act of violence has. If the act is composed – business as usual – then the framing stays fixed, while an emotional outburst of violence is framed and empowered by moving shots – introducing a violent ripple in the otherwise composed but strained atmosphere.
Outrage Beyond is, without a doubt, a great film. With its subtle moving cinematography, its amazing sound design, and its subdued musical score, it is able to turn the voyeuristic trip through the private space of the gokudōsha into a tense experience that keeps spectators hooked until the very end. And when the bodies start to pile up, the futility of violence is slowly uncovered: violence changes positions of subjects, but not the symbolic structure of the gokudōsha as such. And while this puts Outrage Beyond in the same thematic line of its predecessor, Outrage was able – by relying on the framing of the excess of violence – to underline the futility of violence in a much more palpable way.
Cine-note 1: Quite often a shot begins fixed, slips into movement for the middle part, only to become fixed again at the end.
Narra-note 1: As this is a yakuza eiga, it should not come as a surprise that various well-known aspects of the Yakuza ‘way’, e.g. yubi-tsume, sakazukigoto etc. are neatly integrated into the narrative. One of the most intense scenes of the narrative – the meeting of Otomo and Kimura (Hideo Nakano) with the leader from the Hanabishi-kai, Fuse (Shigeru Koyama) – concerns the cutting off of a part of the finger and, albeit indirectly, the sharing of the sake-cup to form new bonds.
Narra-note 2: From the first hour of the narrative, it is apparent that Kato reigns the syndicate with power, but not with authority. While he has his loyal underlings, he has to threaten members of the syndicate – I’ll make sure you’ll lose your turf at the next meeting – so they will take action.
Acting-note 1: Fumiyo Kohinata portrays Kataoka splendidly and is one of the reasons this narrative is so enjoyable. Another noteworthy portrayal is Ryo Kase’s, who brings Ishihara’s fear of Otomo sensibly on the screen.