Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Beyond Outrage
Beyond Outrage is the latest film from Takeshi Kitano, who has made some great films in the past, like The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi. It is also a sequel to Outrage, which earned overwhelmingly positive reviews. Can this film live up to its predecessor? Or should fans of the genre stick to the earlier work?
We watch as police divers raise a car from a harbor and inside are four victims. It seems there is a battle for control of the organized crime in Japan and the Sanno Yakuza clan is winning. This clan is led by Kato, who became chairmen when the previous leader, Sekiuchi, was killed. His right hand man is Ishihara, who is younger than most of the executives below him and is taking the clan in a new direction. The other new high-ranking executive is Funaki, who was the bodyguard of the previous leader, but wasn't there the day he died. ... A bodyguard who didn't protect the leader of the clan, but was given a promotion afterward. Yeah, that's not suspicious. Under the leader of Kato, Sanno has grown powerful, perhaps too powerful.
One of the victims found in the car was a government agent, which is stunning for the police chief. If the Yakuza is willing to kill a government agent, they must think they are truly above the law. Worse still, they might be right. The chief looks to stop Kato and turns to Detective Kataoka. Kataoka was an undercover agent who posed as a corrupt cop and got very close to the Yakuza before. Kataoka thinks he has a way to stop the rise of Sanno. Ishihara is very young and has risen above many high-ranking members of the old guard and cares more about making money than honor and traditions. This has led to dissent that can be exploited. But in order to exploit this, they will need someone powerful. Kataoka first turns to Tomita, one of the old guard and one of the few who has figured out what Kato did to Sekiuchi. Kataoka suggests Tomita should meet with the head of a rival clan, Fuse, who leads the Hanabishi clan. Fuse is reluctant to help, because he is unsure Tomita would be able to lead should he take over. Backing the wrong dog in a fight like this could end with you dead.
Because his first plan didn't work, Kataoka decides to try something new. He visits Otomo in prison. Otomo was a member of the Sanno clan, until his family was betrayed by one of their own, Ishihara. By the end of the events of the first film, Otomo was sent to a maximum security prison. Kataoka works to get Otomo released from prison. Otomo doesn't trust Kataoko, but he has a score to settle with Kato and the others. It's a daring plan, but it is also an incredibly dangerous plan.
I never saw Outrage and I'm not sure if that's the reason I didn't fully enjoy the movie or if the filmmakers made the movie for people like me and that is the reason I didn't fully enjoy the movie. That sounds contradictory, but let me explain. The first hour of Beyond Outrage is setup for the upcoming Yakuza war and this meant the movie got off to a really slow start. It is not until Kataoka works to get Otomo out of prison that the movie picks up the pace. I don't know if this was because I didn't know these characters so I wasn't immediately interested in what they were doing, which means it is my fault for trying to review a sequel to a movie I haven't seen. But it could also be because the filmmakers spent too much time re-introducing all of the characters and this pacing kills the film. I think it is the former rather than the latter, because there is a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations that happen in this movie and shortening the part of the film before Otomo arrives. Once the film does start moving, and I was able to figure out who all of the players were, I did enjoy the movie. It is not the best gangster movie I've seen, nor is it the best Takeshi Kitano film I've seen. That said, if you like the genre or the filmmaker, it is worth checking out.
The only extra on the DVD or the Blu-ray is a making of documentary. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it is just over one hour long. This is certainly better than most foreign language imports get.
The technical presentation is solid. It isn't up to the same quality level of a Hollywood blockbuster, but there are also no issues that attracted my attention either. The liveliness of the colors, level of details, depth of the blacks are all strong, while there are no compression issues to mention. The audio is likewise good with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers, especially in the many gun battles.
The Blu-ray's list price is $30, which is $3 or 11% more than the DVD. However, on Amazon.com, the Blu-ray is currently $7 less than the DVD.
If you liked Outrage, then you will probably like Beyond Outrage. If you haven't seen the first film, the pacing might feel a little off. If you are interested in buying, the Blu-ray is currently cheaper than the DVD, so it is clearly the better deal.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-03-10