Outrage Beyond (2012)

Director:  Takeshi Kitano
Cast:  Takeshi Kitano, Ryo Kase, Toshiyuki Nishida 
Plot:  As the police launch a full-scale crackdown on organized crime, it ignites a national yakuza struggle between the Sanno of the East and Hanabishi of the West. What started as an internal strife in Outrage has now become a nationwide war in Outrage Beyond.

Genre:  Action / Crime / Drama
Awards:  Nom. for Golden Lion (Venice).
Runtime:  112min
Rating:  NC16 for violence and coarse language.

As a fellow film enthusiast pointed out to me, Outrage Beyond is rated NC16 here in Singapore, as compared to its first installment which was slapped with a M18 rating for strong violence.  If that is any indicator of the quality of the sequel, it is not far away from the truth.

Written, directed, edited by, and starring Takeshi Kitano, Outrage Beyond is at best a half-decent yakuza film, and at worst an uninspiring one.  This does not mean that the great Kitano is out of his element, but that perhaps he was far too enthusiastic for a direct follow-up to Outrage (2010) than anyone else, including fans of the original.

The story follows the surviving members of different yakuza clans who are out for blood (and fingers) once again after Kitano's character is released from prison.  In the midst of the urban warfare, a police inspector continues to keep tabs on the clans while at the same time discreetly provoking them to fight with each other... all for pride, glory, and the small matter of promotion.

Yakuza violence takes a backseat until after the second half, with power plays between clans and within members in each clan a constant dramatic force, albeit a rather weak one, though it is not without its moments of twists and turns.

Kitano continues to prove that his character is as much a menace as the brutal thugs that try to destroy him and his sworn brothers.  He is like an aged master, waiting for the most precise moment to strike, yet retaining a volatile nature that pisses off easily-pissed yakuza folks.

The violence is toned down as we see mostly gunfights and the occasional smack to the face.  The aftermath is less bloody, less gory, and in some sadistic sense, less satisfying.  Though I must stress that there is a potentially traumatic scene involving an electric drill, something that would better fit a M18 movie.

Outrage Beyond struggles to find a rhythm between violence and politics, which was done quite well in the first film.  The pacing is slower, though Kitano's creative use of the camera remains excellent.  As far as viewers are concerned, Outrage Beyond is not as entertaining as previous Kitano films.

It was in competition at Venice last year, but nothing much suggests that it was worthy of any of the awards up for grabs then.  This is for fans of Kitano only, and perhaps for those desperate to see a new Asian gangster picture, even if it just an above-average one.

Verdict: This sequel to the hit Kitano film has more uninspired moments than not, and doesn't quite fire in most cylinders like the first one did. 


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