Outrage Blu-ray Review
Outrage comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Panorama with a 1080p resolution, encoded utilising the
AVCcodec and framed within a theatrically correct 2.35:1 aspect ration. The disc itself is locked to Region A.
Panorama don’t tend to put out duff Blus and this continues that trend. The film looks sharp, well detailed and with a strong contrast ratio. The distributor normally squeezes things down to a BD25 so that should be of little concern as there are no serious issues. The only real criticism comes from a couple of pans lacking the smoothness they require, but these are very much momentary lapses.
Delineation is sometimes hard to pin down, and is arguably either masked or aided by the constant shifts in focus within the frame. When close up or fixed on one point things are exactly as they should be, sharp but not artificially so, there’s still a hint of organic blending of edges within the darker confines, crisp but film-like, something the fine layer of grain helps to display. I’d wager there’s perhaps been a touch of sharpening, but there are no surefire signs, and the occasional differences between shots could be purely down to cinematography such is their minor nature.
Shadow detail is good, but not necessarily exceptional, though thankfully noise doesn’t creep in and black crush is not a problem. Fine detail is similarly above average, with the fine weaves of the gangsters’ suits being picked out nicely. The overall palette is generally naturalistic with a slightly rich edge to it that displays well when primaries are on screen, red obviously being key, having a deep punchy tone to it. Things can appear a touch wan, but as soon as the browns of the wood and the greens of the foliage in the chairman’s mansion come into frame those feelings are swept aside. Colours are stable and consistent. Skin tones have a hint of wavering to them, with a couple of faces seeming perhaps a tad flusher towards some of the later scenes, but again this is minimal.
It isn’t quite reference quality, but it is damn fine in almost every respect. Apart from a small motion issue seen in one or two shots this is a crisp but natural image that handles both palatial garden powwows in the crisp midday sun and neon lit beatings in underground car parks extremely well.
Point of note – subtitles appear within the frame and are grammatically perfect.
Just two tracks to choose from – both Japanese – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. I opted for the lossless variant.
As with most Kitano films, there are many pauses between the dialogue of the narrative, and these don’t necessarily lead to a raucous and standout track to demo your equipment. However, that is far from saying this orchestration is flawed, just that the lack of activity can be noted. It is a front heavy arrangement and the front soundstage doesn’t seem the widest, but when the rears are brought into the fold, beyond the basic background music, they are well utilised. When looking out of a coffee shop at two yakuza approaching, Kitano’s aim to place us within the shop itself is replicated extremely well by this tack as nary a peep is heard from the front speakers, but all the chinking of plates and running of water is piping from behind the listener. It is rare to find many tracks where solely the surround channels are focussed upon for a prolonged scene but it heightens the tension and the similar occasion of discreet noises being woven into the mix are of a similarly high standard.
Keiichi Suzuki’s score, ebbs and flows in and out of scenes, the synth in particular is a joy to hear, multi-layered and crackling with subdued intensity. Some may find it a bit tame, expecting Manhunter-esque vibrancy, but this is as it should be and when the drums kick in they pop all around, tight and bouncing. There are no real fancy stylistic flourishes beyond the aforementioned use of the rears and a couple of pans, but what is on offer is a fine aural display for a Kitano film. The centre never misses a beat, the score is well handled, a couple of discreet noises are thrown in and the main tour de force when the finale shootouts occur is some crushing bass and it is then that the fronts open up and envelop the listener.
Unfortunately the extras which appear on a separate
DVDhave no English subtitles, merely Chinese. For those able to understand Japanese or read Chinese there are certainly a few features of interest; Making of Outrage (37:04), Round-table discussion interview, (13:54), Japan Premiere Director and cast appearance (24:05), Cast Interviews (18:52), Trailers (0:30) and Outrage in Cannes (9:23).
Outrage is a reasonably sound, if unambitious, return for Kitano to the yakuza genre. There is little of the existentialism and deep symbolism that differentiated his earlier work from similar films in that stable. The long, drawn out shots that paused on his every minute mannerism are sadly gone, and in their place sits an ensemble cast, each vying for screen time, but ultimately gaining insufficient amounts to make the characterisations three dimensional enough to care about. Kitano’s humour saves this from descending into a standard run-of-the-mill sharp-suits-and-guns affair, but even that stumbles, along with his trademark flair for unflinching violence, in a manner one would not expect from a film written, directed and edited by the man himself.
The disc is good in all the departments that matter, though the extras, being without English subtitles, aren’t importer friendly. Both picture and sound represent a solid job from Panorama – the former, barring a couple of minor slips, is crisp but organically film-like, whilst the latter is similarly tempered, unflashy but ticks all the right boxes for displaying an earthy crime drama.
The film may not be a classic deserving of being in the same sentence as Sonatine or Hana-Bi, the themes are not original and the execution at times feels like an impersonation of the director’s style, but Outrage is still unique simply by the very name attached, to be of interest. If you can put the high expectations out of your head, it stands up as a typical yakuza thriller with hints of a Kitano edge.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.99
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