Takashi Kitano's Beyond Outrage (a follow up to his 2010 Yakuza picture Outrage) picks up where the first movie left off, albeit a few years later. Kato (Tomokazu Miura), with some help from his right hand man Ishihara (Ryo Kase), has moved to the top of the ladder within the Sanno-kai yakuza clan and has proven a strong leader. They're making money hand over fist and they've got more power and influence than they ever did before he was in charge. Things get rocky when Detective Kataoka (Fumiyo Kohinata) has to investigate the details behind a double murder after two corpses are round in a river. Kataoka knows that this is a sign of bad things to come and so he turns to Otomo (Takeshi Kitano), a ruthless yakuza enforcer currently doing time behind bars, for some help. Kataoka knows that Otomo has a vested interest in getting Kato out of the top position and that revenge will be first thing on Otomo's mind.
Otomo knows that he can't realistically go about all of this on his own and so he enlists the aid of his former foe, Kimura (Hideo Nakano), to help him. They strike up a sometimes uneasy alliance and set the wheels into motion their plan to topple Kato and takeover the Sanno-kai clan. Of course, none of this will be easy and as Otomo goes about his business he quickly learns who he can trust and where the loyalties of those around him lay.
Like the 2010 film that this latest entry from Kitano (who directed, wrote and obviously played the lead role), Beyond Outrage is not for those looking for a quick dose of adrenalin. Though there are moments of violent action throughout the movie, they happen quickly and very intensely. These moments are used for impact, to expose character traits and motivations and to pinpoint the brutality that plays a very large part in the existence of these cold, hardened men. While thematically it may have some attributes in common with more action intensive revenge movies, the fact is that this is a slow burn of a film, one that puts character and story far, far ahead of bloodshed and gunplay. As such, the scope of the story being told this time around is a good bit larger and those with short attention spans might have to watch it a few times to take it all in. This is a movie, like many of Kitano's more cerebral efforts, that requires concentration but those willing to invest will certainly find it rewarding.
Much of what makes Beyond Outrage work is how it deftly sets up and then continues to concentrate on the conflict that exists between Otomo's faction and Kato's faction. The story essentially sets up a vicious gang war and then uses that framing to craft interesting and frequently devious characters. Kitano is once again fantastic as the stone faced lead. He's got a mischievous twinkle in his eye in a few scenes, not in the way that he's winking at the audience or taking any of this less than completely seriously but more in the way that, yeah, this guy could easily snap and take out anyone who stands up to him to arrogantly or looks at him the wrong way. The supporting actors, Tomokazu Miura and Hideo Nakano in particular, are all excellent and deliver equally strong work but Kitano really has that mythical aura to his screen presence that puts his performance just a notch or two above everyone else who appears in front of the camera.
The visual are solid, if not as striking or artistically impressive as some of his earlier pictures. Slow, carefully calculated camera movements often do a strong job of accentuating the tension that comes to exist between key characters. While the movie utilizes a colder color scheme more often than a warmer one it does make for some slick visuals. There are also some effective moments of black humor, often delivered in Kitano's typically deadpan style, that help to alleviate the movie's heavy layers, almost like we get a break every little while only to be thrown back into the politically charged underworld conflict around which these characters circle like hawks.
Beyond Outrage looks great in this AVC encoded 2.35.1 1080p high definition transfer. Detail is crisp and sharp without looking artificially sharpened and there are no problems at all with any print damage, dirt or debris. Skin tones look lifelike and accurate and color reproduction looks spot on though the movie, as mentioned, leans toward the cooler side of the color spectrum so expect a lot of greens and a lot of blues used throughout. Black levels are nice and deep and shadow detail is excellent. Texture is impressive and while close up shots not surprisingly benefit from this the most, even medium and long distance shots offer up lots to take in. Magnolia has done a nice job here, the film looks very good.
The only audio option provided is a Japanese language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, but that's nothing to complain about. Dialogue is strong, well balanced and consistently clear while gunshots pack a real punch when the sporadic violence erupts throughout the film. Surround activity won't bombard you but you'll definitely notice it when it kicks in, which is quite often. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish.
The only extra of much substance on the disc is a series of cast and crew interviews compiled into a lengthy sixty-one minute long featurette entitled Making Of Outrage: Further Beyond. Some interesting behind the scenes footage is edited in alongside the interview clips as we hear from pretty much all of the principals involved in the making of this picture. Aside from that we get trailers for a few other Magnolia properties, menus and chapter selection.
Beyond Outrage is a completely worthy follow up to the original film, it's a deep picture that showcases some excellent performances and a very intense, thoughtful script with slick visuals and some truly memorable set pieces. Magnolia's Blu-ray features one extra feature of note, a strong transfer and very nice lossless audio. This is a fine release overall, and one that comes highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.