To say Takeshi Kitano's Outrage Beyond continues the story told in his 2010 film Outrage doesn't quite cover it. Or it does but you have to take it a lot more literally than with most sequels. Even though a handful of years have passed between films (in narrative time), Outrage Beyond plays exactly like an additional two hours of Outrage.
All the (few) characters who survived Outrage come back for more. The film's look and music is also pretty much the exact same. But that's normal sequel stuff. What's truly remarkable is the way Outrage Beyond's plot makes the exact same moves in the exact same direction as Outrage. It's not a copy, however, but a continuation. While not noob friendly, it's a remarkable feat that rewards viewers familiar with the first film and raises excitement for the inevitable third entry to complete this now surprisingly epic Yakuza story.
Despite being literally more of the same, Outrage Beyond sports a slightly more streamlined plot, which opens and closes a bit faster than in Outrage. When the Sanna Yakuza family grows too big from legitimate corporate ventures a tense rift appears between the new and old Yakuza values. Sneaky corrupt/not corrupt police officer Kataoka sees an opportunity to bring down the whole organization by releasing Takashi Kitano's Otomo (who is far less dead than we thought) from prison so he can go fuck things up and basically shoot everyone in Japan. It's just a bit less confusing than all the playing two sides shenanigans going on last time.
Just as with Outrage, all kinds of violent shit goes down, and with seemingly a gazillion characters, it can still be difficult to remain on top of who's doing what at any given time. Everyone's a Starscream to someone else's Megatron and mutinies, uprisings and reversals of fortune happen roughly every five minutes or so. Now with two films to look at, the fickleness of power definitely arises as the dominant theme of the series.
It's weird to say this about a film in which tons upon tons of Japanese gangsters get shot, stabbed or beaten to death, but Outrage Beyond seems a little less violent than its predecessor. There's no dentist drill, no car hanging, no face slashing and only one finger gets cut off (bitten off, actually, so that's worth something). There is an amazing bit involving a baseball pitching machine, but for the most part this is the tamer film.
But it's sort of a trade. There seems to be more gun violence overall, and some of the kills have more weight behind them than last time since the bigger characters have a whole film's worth of history together at this point. It's not like Takeshi Kitano brought a kid's film to a gun fight. The film is filled with violence; it's just a bit less intimate this go round. American gangster films tend to have big montages near the end where bunches of people get killed. These Outrage films kind of feel like that, only expanded to fill whole running times.
If you liked Outrage, it seems impossible you wouldn't like Outrage Beyond. If you've never seen Outrage, this film will do very little for you unless you're just interested in watching gangsters shoot each other regardless of meaning or context. Whenever this whole Outrage series finally concludes, it will undoubtedly offer viewers one of the bigger crime stories ever told. I can't wait to see where Takeshi Kitano takes the story next, but I have a feeling it will look, feel and sound pretty much the same. In this case, however, that's not really a bad thing.