Jealousy, betrayal, revenge, ambition, and dissatisfaction with the boss are the staples of life within any Yakuza crime family. So says actor, film director and screenwriter Takeshi Kitano. And that’s just within a particular family. Per Kitano, these rivalries also spread to battles between crime families.
In the 1972 classic, The Godfather, the character called Clemenza (played by Richard Castellano) called it – going to the mattresses. A term meaning that as the gang wars raged, the participants holed up in safe houses that lacked sufficient bedrooms – so some had to make do with sleeping on mattresses on the floor.
In Kitano’s latest yakuza film called Beyond Outrage (2012) they didn’t bother with euphemisms – they just said – let’s wage war. This film is the sequel to Outrage, also written, directed and starring Takeshi Kitano.
His character is called Otomo, and terms like nasty, brutal, and ‘in your face’, are only the starting point for this guy. We thought he might have been killed off at the end of Outrage, but now we find out that this was just the tale told to keep him alive while he did a stretch in prison.
As Beyond Outrage begins we learn that Kato, the new head of the Sanno family, who got to his position by bumping off the former head (via a betrayal by his body-guard), is not so well liked by some of the underbosses. especially because that same bodyguard was installed as a senior executive. Also right there near the top is Ishihara who was once Otomo’s right hand before betraying him (in Outrage) So the situation was ripe with dissatisfaction and jealousy.
In steps police Detective Kataoka played marvelously by Fumino Kohinata. Kataoka takes money from the Sanno family. He also takes money from a competing family, based in Osaka, called the Hanabishi. He does major favors for these gangs in exchange for plenty of Yen as well as an occasional bust. In short, Kataoka’s game plan is to play one gang off against the other, take money from each, and use his occasional busts to help him rise in the police ranks.
Almost before you settle into your seat, a Sanno underboss is having a meet with the head of the Hanabishi (engineered by Kataoka of course). And just as of course – this underboss will not survive once the Sanno gang finds out.
So we go back and forth – antagonists become allies, allies become antagonists, and Kataoka will have Otomo released from prison and injected into the midst. Immediately the stakes are ratcheted up.
There’s your set up.
This is a tale of outward gang warfare married to smaller stories of betrayal and strife within the gang. There are the four major players – Kato, Kataoka, Otomo, and Fuse – the head of the Hanabishi. As the original Outrage ended, we didn’t see a sequel coming. But as Beyond Outrage ends, we can see clearly that a third film is a very likely possibility.
This makes a lot of sense when you consider that the global receipts for the sequel, which has just opened here in the US, is already three times the amount earned by the original.
But for those of you who may want to see this one as soon as possible, I must advise that this one travels down a different road than the first one. Otomo (Kitano) has a much reduced role, the violence has been toned down considerably, and the film is much more about the plotting and strategies set into play rather than the methodologies of the killings.
This is not to say, that this film lacks bloodshed. It really doesn’t as the body count mounts scene after scene. But many of the assassinations were done via crane shots, or from a distance, or we see many corpses without seeing who killed them or how they died. So on that score this is a lesser film.
On the other hand, we see a great many more characters with speaking roles. More attention is paid to character and story developement. In the original, we sort of had to sit through some exposition and dialogue, which wasn’t as involving or exciting as the actual mayhem.
This time around, Kitano has reversed that – the intrigues, and plotting, and strategies are far more interesting than the actual violence.
Yet. the film has its charms. Corrupt cops, jealousy, real back-stabbing, and plenty of tough guys who are more than willing to live the life of a gangster. I’ll rate it three-point five, and I will recommend it with the advisory, that this is a sequel, and is a likely interim film, as a third film seems inevitable. Outrage and this one, Beyond Outrage, are not films for everyone; especially not for kids.
Check out the trailer –