johnlink ranks AUTOREIJI (OUTRAGE) (2010)

I happened upon this recent Japanese yakuza action flick late at night. It promised fast paced action with plenty of crazy happenings. For energy, it seemed to fall somewhere between the seriousness of THE DEPARTED and the pure action of something like TRANSPORTER. Turns out it is much closer to THE DEPARTED, though with less lofty thoughts on life.

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I watched AUTOREIJI (OUTRAGE) (2010) on 12.19.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

Takeshi Kitano has enjoyed a long career in Japanese cinema in many different roles both in front of and behind the camera. He received recognition for his gangster movie BROTHER and has had the fortune of playing the famed samurai Zatoichi. He took a respite from action for a bit, making smaller movies, before coming back with AUTOREIJI, or OUTRAGE, in 2010. Kitano serves as writer, director, editor, and co-star. He made the decision to make the movie about the action, about creative violence, and then form the story around it. Perhaps this is the method of a cynical filmmaker showing his frustration, and it could also be said that any such frustration is also revealed by the story.

There are a ton of characters in this, and it takes a long time to sort them all out. There is the Chairman, who rules over all decisions. There is his second in command. There is Ishihara, who runs one family, and his sworn brother Murase. Murase does not have the favor of the Chairman, and so mistrusts Ishihara. Ishihara doesn’t want to directly confront a former ally, so he hires out Otomo (Kitano) to make it look like there is a rift between families. This is all complicated by the fact that all of these leaders have scores of henchmen who sometimes are featured in scenes without much introduction to them. Kitano doesn’t wait for his audience. He edits this thing quickly, with some entire scenes lasting maybe ten seconds before cutting to another scene without any sort of establishing shot to tell us we have gone somewhere else. This happens several times. Not enough to make us lose perspective, but enough to keep everything flowing.

It also serves the bigger point of all the theme. In many ways, it doesn’t matter who is loyal to who, because by the end we learn that most everyone is just loyal to themselves. This movie does not look favorable on yakuza gangsterism. This is not a movie glorifying the life or comparing it to honorable samurai ritual. Instead, the yakuza here are seen as survivalists who use traditions of honor as a shield to protect the fact that they have no real honor. They turn on each other, betray each other, kill each other. Nobody is safe. Not the wives or girlfriends or the man-servants, or the lead characters. Kitano doesn’t like any of these guys, even his own Otomo doesn’t get a pass. Otomo and his men criticize a rival for cutting off his own finger in a display of apology, accusing the rivals of thinking silly old traditions matter. Later, Otomo himself does the same when he goes before the Chairman.

This Japanese film doesn’t follow the same three act structure as most American action films. As such, there is a moment a little over an hour in where we wonder where all of this is going. It is not until the final half hour that things really heat up… only they don’t heat up in the way we expect. This seems like it is going to be a story of vengeance, it turns into something quite different. The violence and gore are there consistently, and so it isn’t surprising to learn that sometimes the action bits were conceived before the plot was sorted out.

The anti-ending seems to belie a sequel, yet a sequel was made regardless. I’m curious what that looks like. It would be like making a sequel to THE DEPARTED: it is hard to tell where it would go. But OUTRAGE was interesting enough, even if it wasn’t always the most entertaining film from start to finish, to bring me back for more.

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 8

7+7+7+8+0=29

FINAL SCORE: 7.25 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on December 20, 2014.

One Response to “johnlink ranks AUTOREIJI (OUTRAGE) (2010)”

  1. So much killing, but yet, so much fun, too. Good review John.

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