Thursday, December 15, 2011

Outrage - Digital Download Review



OUTRAGE



Theatrical Release Date: December 2, 2011

Do you like mob movies? Do you like violence? Do you like a lot of violence? Then Outrage is the movie for you but be warned. This is probably one of the most no frills mob style movies I have ever seen and with that comes a whole lot of over the top violent acts that serve only one purpose...to make you squirm with glee.


Review Vital Stats:
Service: Amazon On Demand
Download Type: Rental
Picture Quality: HD

Biases:
Loves: Hard hitting mob style movies
Likes: Takeshi Kitano
Neutral: Movies that feature gratuitous violence just for the sake of it
Hates: Nothing
Crazy: Everything that happens in this movie


We have sung the praises of the independent studio Magnet to near obsessiveness on The LRA Show but I have never really talked much about this fantastic gem of a studio in one of my written reviews. Whomever is responsible for acquiring the films they release deserves a raise because they just can't make a mistake when it comes to releasing cutting edge, entertaining and unique films that otherwise would probably never see the light of day (in the United States anyways). Outrage continues the fine tradition of the studio that brought you Rubber and 13 Assassins and Hobo with a Shotgun and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and...you get the point. I went into Outrage with a blank slate, knowing only it had something to do with the Yakuza and that it starred legendary filmmaker and actor Takeshi Kitano who also wrote and directed the film. What I got was a tightly directed, acted and slightly absurd piece of action/thriller greatness that left me in awe when it was all over.

Released last year in Japan, Outrage is a film depicting a group of Yakuza or more specifically two lieutenants of a much larger organization who get manipulated into a war by their superior who they call the chairman. Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura) has made a truce with Murase (Renji Ishibashi) where they share the same turf and keep out of each others way. The chairman doesn't like this relationship between the two men and decides that both should be taken out of the picture. Using his influence, the chairman meets in secret with both of his lieutenants as well as their subordinates including Ikemoto's right hand man Otomo (Takeshi Kitano) and promises them each something different if they were to kill off certain Yakuza members in their own ranks. As they agree to the chairman's demands they unknowingly begin a war amongst themselves that will not end until there is no one left on either side.

The Yakuza doesn't really deal too much in honor.

This is one crazy ass movie. It makes no excuses about the intense amount of violence that it has on display and doesn't flinch an inch when it comes to showing us the goods. It isn't even so much the level of violence but more the consistency of it that really grabs hold of you and drags you around. I really hate to simplify the film and make it seem like some sort of exploitation movie but I also can't really make it out to be anything more than it actually is. This is a movie that thrives on that most basic human need to see other people get f**ked up and f**ked up bad. You will literally feel beaten to a pulp by the time it is all over.

This film should be the official thesaurus on ass beatings. From chopsticks in the ear to a scene comprised of some very unprofessional dental work there is just no end to the parade of violence. Part of the thrill and enjoyment I got out of my viewing experience with Outrage was that X factor, that lack of knowledge of what to expect next but that is also one of the films few downfalls unfortunately. By the half way point there had been so many unexpected twists and turns and extreme bursts of violence that took place (seriously, someone is getting shot, stabbed or beaten every five minutes) that it actually started to become predictable in some sort of crazed way. Expect the unexpected is what it essentially boiled down to for me and near the end I was no longer surprised if someone got their head nearly ripped off, it started to feel like business as usual.

Not exactly the image you want to wake up to.

In some twisted way that is kind of cool though. The fact that a movie is able to turn the tables and shock its audience so much that they have to re-evaluate how they look at the movie as a whole and start to not only understand the world of Outrage but also accept it as some sort of alternate reality in which people die every few minutes and that is just the way things are. The violence isn't really that violent either and by that I mean it isn't really that graphic, the way it comes out of left field is usually more disorienting than anything else but like I said you will eventually get used to it and expect it. But for all the blood, bullets and chopped off fingers there is an extremely interesting power struggle going on in its very smart and simple tale of murder, betrayal and dishonor.

What really kept my interest level up after I started getting numb to all the crazy shit going down was the manipulation game going on in the background. How or even if any of the Yakuza would intersect at some point and discover what was actually going on kept me guessing when all the mass carnage became somewhat predictable. Some of my favorite moments in the movie had little to do with the violence and more to do with the reasoning behind the violence.  Early on there is a scene involving one of the Lieutenant Yakuza bosses who is instructed to retire by the chairman in order to appease the order he had earlier given to the other Lieutenant boss which was to take him out of the picture. But he also instructs the boss to not fully retire and still do some business on the side which would eventually eat into the business of the other boss which would make it appear as though he was lied to WHERE IN FACT they both have just been following orders from their boss this whole time. 

Most of the killings are as cold and calculating as these guys appear.

If any of that sounds confusing then maybe that's because it is, just a little though. As much as I love all the double, triple and quadruple crosses going on it can also get highly confusing since we are never truly given much time to get to know any of these guys. We are introduced to over two dozen characters within the first 20 minutes of the movie and before we even have a firm grasp on who anyone is they already start dropping like flies. This has got to be my main gripe with the film overall, it really has too many characters (even the damn poster has over a dozen different characters on it). I don't mind having a huge cast of characters but there needs to be some sort of spacing or a time to breath in between all the crazy stuff. With someone dying or getting the shit beat out of them every five minutes or so it detracts from any sort of connection or bond to any of these guys.

But then again these are Yakuza, none of which seems to have any real redeeming values to them. Every single one of them is untrustworthy and obsessively selfish, just like you would expect them to be. Usually in films like this though we have at least one individual that is disconnected from everyone else. Someone that either still has a soul and is trying to find a way out of the madness or someone that finds some way to redeem all their past discrepancies by the time it is all over. Al Pacino's character in Donnie Brasco or Ray Liotta in Goodfellas are good examples of this, there were even a handful of not so bad guys in Scarface that gained some sympathy from the audience eventually. Outrage has no one like that, none of these guys ever once second guesses an order to kill their friend or mentor. They are all just looking out for themselves and quite honestly deserve everything that happens to them.

This is how most everyone in the movie ends up...or worse.

But do we really need to empathize with these guys to enjoy the movie? I don't think so. Like I said, much of the fun is surrounding watching these guys wipe each other out and I suppose part of what makes that work is that they all deserve to get wiped out. The irony at work is priceless, the fact that their own greed and lack of honor is their ultimate downfall is almost Shakespearean. If they had even a sliver of morality to them and didn't turn on each other at the drop of a hat things would have most likely turned out much better for all of them. But what fun would that be?

The last thing I want to bring up is the overall look and feel of the film. I am not that familiar with Kitano's other directorial efforts but from the cinematography to the sets and costume designs, I loved it all. There is never any clear indication what era the movie takes place in but if I had to guess it is somewhere in the mid to late 80's. Everyone is dressed in these very clean monochromatic suits with either a turtleneck or some kind of Hawaiian t-shirt underneath. I instantly had visions of the wardrobe found in Scarface watching this movie and you know what, that was pretty awesome. The whole movie has this throwback quality to it that is hard to nail down but you definitely feel it as you are watching it and it adds a level of atmosphere to the proceedings that makes everything feel very gritty.

This is about as typical a mob boss pose can get.

This is a hard one to recommend outright. I know it is by far one of the better movies I saw this year but it is also not exactly anything amazing. I enjoyed my time with it immensely but then again I am the type of guy that likes to watch f**ked up shit happen to people that deserve it and Outrage gave me that in spades. While I wouldn't call it a bloodbath exactly it certainly has enough depraved acts in it to satisfy anyones lust for carnage but it is also just gratuitous enough to turn some people off to it. This is a well executed movie that does exactly what it sets out to do and provides the viewer with a fairly unique, often times invigorating and sometimes over the top look at the infamous Yakuza gang lords of Japan. You can't really knock it for that...not too much anyway. Despite whatever drawbacks it may have I feel confident to suggest that you...

CHECK IT OUT


YOU CAN CURRENTLY RENT OUTRAGE AT AMAZON BY FOLLOWING THE LINK BELOW:


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