CANNES, France (Reuters) - Takeshi Kitano unleashed his “Outrage” on the Cannes film festival on Monday, returning to his filmmaking roots with a violent yakuza movie that uses just about anything as a tool to murder, including chopsticks.
“Outrage,” which tells of a bloody gang war among rival factions of Tokyo’s Sanno-kai crime gang, is Kitano’s first yakuza flick since 2000’s “Brothers,” and the Japanese actor/writer/director/comedian pulled no punches in dreaming up new ways to kill.
Kitano, better known for his stage name Beat Takeshi, told reporters there were no deep, thoughtful reasons for returning to the gangster genre. He simply wanted to.
“I thought it would be as good a time as any,” he said at a Cannes news conference.
But he was quick to add that he wanted to ensure “Outrage” was fresh. To do that, Kitano added loud dialogue between the characters and a fast pace to the action, which contrasts dramatically to his typically bleak and even nihilistic style.
As important, he strived to find ever more gruesome ways to perpetrate violence. In fact, he first created new methods of murder to form the movie’s structure, then filled-in the plot.
Where the violence is concerned — and not to give anything away — his fans may delight in scenes that include flying fingers, plunging chopsticks, a nasty bit of dentistry and the intertwining of a head, a rope and a luxury sedan.
Beyond the gruesome killing in what Kitano admitted was a “hideously violent movie,” there are sharp and loud exchanges among the characters, who in his yakuza films of the past had been mostly stoic and quiet.
Then, there are the actors themselves, who are not his usual troupe of performers but newer faces for a Kitano movie.
“We intentionally decided to work with new people,” he said, adding that from the first day on the set he could see that “everyone falls into the right character, and I think my method turned in the right result.”
Kitano portrays Otomo, the head of a small clan of thugs who work for the yakuza boss Ikemoto (Jun Kunimura). He, in turn, takes orders from “Mr. Chairman,” (Soichiro Kitamura), the powerful leader of the sanno-kai syndicate.
When Ikemoto tangles with another clan boss, Murase (Renji Ishibashi), a gang war breaks out in Tokyo and bullets — among other things — begin to fly.
Yakuza tales have been told for decades on film and when asked if, in fact, he wasn’t being old-fashioned in returning to the genre, Kitano said, no.
Since the yakuza still existed, they themselves could not be deemed old-fashioned, he said.
He did admit, however, that their ways of making money have evolved, and now encompass computers, communications, stocks and bonds, compared to decades ago when drug running, gambling, prostitution and protection rackets earned them yen.
But the new ways were too sophisticated for Kitano’s return to yakuza. Instead, he chose chopsticks.
Writing and reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Paul Casciato