In the Yakuza, ‘respecting up’ up is obligatory. Those who are senior to you in the pecking order must be acknowledged and listened to. Always. Forgetting one’s position earns quick retribution in the form of a guttural slur, a slap, or worse. But disrespect ‘goes up’ too. One unwitting or negligent act by an underling illustrates a perceived lack of power and control by a boss. If it is not remedied and addressed before the disrespect reaches the upper echelons, it reflects poorly on all.
The Murase and Ikomoto families were once at war, but under the watchful command of The Chairman, the senior Yakuza in the area, they ‘enjoy’ a tentative peace thanks to a pact of non violence.
Otomo (Beat Takeshi) is an ‘upper underling’, performing the dirty work and providing the muscle to a boss. Otomo can issue orders below, but for the most part seems content to take them from above. Initially.
Both gangs go about their business; extortion, prostitution and drugs in their own little patches, but like children they poke each other under the table all while feigning good behaviour to the grown ups.
With the pact dictating the extent of reprisals, various underlings these, poke and prod their rivals. This leads to apologies lacking in sincerity and meaning, and more sneaky acts designed to inflame and anger. If detention is the worst punishment facing a kid, there will be far more mischief than there would be if physical punishment was threatened.
But accepting an apology is boring – even if it comes in the form of a severed finger – and true forgiveness is unthinkable. It isn’t long before the teasing and pushing creates sparks that will inevitably ignite gang warfare.
As with the exceptional Brother from 2000, director Takeshi Kitano (the aka of Beat Takeshi the actor) is in fine form her. The subtleties of Yakuza politics juxtaposes neatly with the sudden violence that is their chosen means of action. Once the truce is broken Yakuza are picked off on all sides with astonishing frequency, all with little fanfare or style.
It is simply how they go about their business, and business is especially violent.
Similarly the film shows little flair and unnecessary movement. The plot moves inexorably onward, making no fuss about who was just killed or who is about to. There is minimal music and special effects, just much sudden violence and scads of that great gruff Japanese yelling.
In the Yakuza nothing is personal, everything is business. Everyone must embrace their role and status or risk being ‘sacked’ in bloody fashion, and the ambitious must learn that advancement can only come when positions above become vacant.
Final Rating – 8 / 10. Few true Yakuza have the luxury of retirement…
The aftermath of the initial film lead to a cover-up and a reshuffle. Everyone moves to minimise the damage and to restock the minions.
Gangs form new alliances and cut new deals, with new bosses rising from the ashes. The Sanno clan emerges strongest from the carnage.
The police remain content with the quiet, focusing their efforts on picking the pockets of all gangs in exchange for information and assistance.
Otomo is apparently dead, but the fact that he is on the poster should give a clue. His re-emergence after nearly a decade of tentative peace with the Hanabishi gang puts all on edge once again. His teaming with his once rival Kimura triggers a new wave of bloodshed and violence.
Where Outbreak was a deep rumbling culminating in a huge eruption, Outrage Beyond is even more convoluted and ultimately harder to get into. As with all Kitano films the violence is sudden and fairly plentiful, unlike his best, some of it is baffling and only a small proportion seems earned.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. This is a worthwhile film in its own right but suffers by comparison to the original.