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The Outsider
Topic Started: Feb 23 2018, 06:06 AM (487 Views)
kitsuno
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The Shogun

I remember hearing about this kinda-sorta-based-on-a-true-story Yakuza film years ago, and then forgot all about it. I think I had originally heard that it would star DiCaprio or Tom Hardy. Tadanobu Asano and Kippei Shiina also star. I'm looking forward to it.



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chingwa
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Looks interesting... I'll definitely give this one a watch.
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chingwa
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Man this movie is getting poor ratings, and I'm not really sure why.

I thought it was a pretty good film, if perhaps a bit predictable... but most movies of this type follow very similar plot points. Jared was on the emotionless side, and without facial hair he comes off as quite creepy... perhaps to the movie's benefit. The Japanese actors all did very well of course.

My main gripe is very little of the characters were fleshed out. This would have done well as a short series where you could devote more time to character interaction and expand on the nuance that the film was trying to get into.

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kitsuno
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The Shogun

I can imagine that it's the "whitewashing" tribe of social arbiters rampaging around - even though it is (very) loosely based on a true story. I didn't realize it had already been released, I'll probably watch it tonight.
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kitsuno
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The Shogun

It took me a while to find it because google is inundated with search results of this movie, but the American soldier who (I think technically worked with) the Yakuza after WWII was Nicholas Zapetti. But I don't know if you can really claim whitewashing when something along those lines happened in reality. Unfortunately people freaking out about Jared Leto does little more than make sure that some good Japanese actors have a harder time getting exposure in Hollywood in the future. I noticed on Twitter a few people saying that they should have just made a straight Yakuza movie, as if a foreign niche of a niche genre is going to get any eyeballs on it in the USA. I'd watch the shit out of a Netflix made full on Japanese Yakuza movie, but I can guarantee no one else would.
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chingwa
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All this race baiting and signalled outrage is getting pretty out of hand. It's truly a shame when someone's work, art, music etc gets overshadowed by this junk.

But that aside, I'd watch the shit out of that hypothetical Netflix Japanese Yakuza movie too.
Edited by chingwa, Mar 12 2018, 06:06 PM.
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kitsuno
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The Shogun

It bugs me because everyone points to "Memoirs of a Geisha" as Hollywood doing it "right", despite it being terrible, despite it being populated by Chinese actors, despite it being in English, despite it being weird Hollywoodized Japanese culture, despite being written by a white man. I say that The Last Samurai, The Yakuza, Black Rain, and even The Outsider (Or even the first Kill Bill) are better than Memoirs of a Geisha because they have legit Japanese actors speaking Japanese, in their best acting element, keeping it truer to Japanese culture (to the extent possible in the context of the story), and just doesn't feel so "forced".
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chingwa
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Memoirs of a Geisha was absolutely awful. I wrote a whole diatribe/review of it at the time. I wonder if it could even be made in today's climate... I wonder if having "asian" actresses is enough or if it would actually have to include Japanese actresses to gain acceptance? In any case it was a preposterous decision at the time.

I was very happy to see much of the dialog in The Outsider being subtitled... I would have liked the whole thing to have been subtitled, personally.
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kitsuno
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The Shogun

So I finally had time to sit down and watch this. Basically it's a legit Yakuza film. It's not great, but it would be a solid introduction to someone who wanted to check out a Yakuza film and still have some English in it. Most Yakuza films have super convoluted plots dealing with inter- and intra-group rivalries and betrayals - this one does too, but it's far less convoluted than, say, "Outrage" (which I had to watch three times to untangle). Most of the plot is "big man" stuff, so in other words, "Nick" (Jared Leto) is just a bit part that doesn't really affect the overall plot until the final 3 minutes.

All in all, it was pretty good, not great, and if you're not into Japanese cinema or yakuza films, it's probably not for you. But let's face it, if Netflix did the same movie but without an American in there to add some English, probably less that 10% of the people who watched this movie would have seen it. So I feel like there is a flaw with claims of whitewashing. Takeshi Kitano did the same thing with "Brother" after all, and no one cried "Blackwashing" (Omar Epps reference). And I mean F##K I feel some great Japanese actors are being sold short by writing off this film as "whitewashing".

The Good:

A legit enough Yakuza film - whoever wrote it was either a fan of the genre, or had plenty of Japanese input.
Some great Japanese actors.
Most of the movie is in Japanese.
Jared Leto's Japanese falls somewhere between Tom Cruise and Uma Thurman (so not terrible)
Plenty of expected Yazkua violence
Hardly anything was "explained" with unnecessary and annoying exposition. The movie either expected you to understand the culture or just accept that you don't. It didn't throw in dumb dialogue to explain what was going on for the most part. I think there might have been a little bit, but not nearly to the "normal" extent. This is also why I like the Netflix show "Altered Carbon", but that's neither here nor there.
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it 20% while actual people who watch movies gave it 73%, so this just highlights how the critics were trying to jump on the clickbait bandwagon with "whitewashing", whereas for the most part the people who watched the movie liked it.

The Bad:

Jared Leto didn't speak enough Japanese. He spoke some, but I feel like he used more English than would be realistic. I mean, he did a stint in a Japanese prison with criminals, he would not have had a lot of options to speak English. So I think that was intentional to keep the English-speaking audience. At least in The Last Samurai, Katsumoto said he wanted to practice his English.
Too many of the Yakuza seem to speak and understand English. I mean, unless you buy into the idea that Yakuza are educated and intelligent men running a "business" I guess.
There was once or twice where a yakuza would "explain" the "yakuza way" to Nick, which felt like if there was a Samurai movie with a Jesuit and the Samurai started explaining "bushido". If that makes sense. It was like explaining the "fantasy" version of the yakuza, and isn't something that I've ever noticed in full on Yakuza films, so it stuck out to me.
Not really bad, but the Nick character gets into the Yakuza basically the same way a lot of people get into the Yakuza in yakuza films - he saves the life of a Yakuza in prison. Great, but how realistic is that path for a foreigner?
Nick is an obvious sociopath (if not outright psychopath), but seems to have great love for his friend's sister, and cares a whole lot about his "yakuza family". I mean, this does fit well enough with antisocial personality disorder (look at Goodfellas), but it just isn't portrayed as well here, or not fleshed out enough.
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Wicked L
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Oki no kami
I just watched this last night, i loved the noir atmosphere,moody score, neon signs and lights in the rain. I really liked it . Leto looked a bit weak, this would have been perfect for Tom Hardy . Great Japanese cast inc Nao Omori (director in his own right as Sabu ). Its much better than a lot of V Cinema offerings i have sat through, it even reminded me of the old Mitchum/Takakura film The Yakuza . I agree its weak in places, the story is basic and simple, but the art direction makes up for it .All in all its a good introduction to Yakuza films for those new to the genre .Speaking of the Yakuza, that film was meant to have been remade a while back.

Here is a bit about Nick Zappetti, he is also the subject of the book Tokyo Underworld .

https://samuraidave.wordpress.com/category/nick-zappetti/


https://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/02/books/the-pizza-connection.html
Edited by Wicked L, Apr 16 2018, 06:31 AM.
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Toranosuke
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Tosa no kami
Quote:
 
It bugs me because everyone points to "Memoirs of a Geisha" as Hollywood doing it "right", despite it being terrible, despite it being populated by Chinese actors, despite it being in English, despite it being weird Hollywoodized Japanese culture, despite being written by a white man.


I happen to have enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, mainly for the aesthetic qualities. The costumes, the architecture, give the impression of being correct, and they just sort of wrap you up into this aesthetic world. But, that said, as you point out, on a point-by-point basis, yeah, no one should be saying this is Hollywood getting it "right." To add even one more point to those you've named, the musical score doesn't even employ traditional koto or shamisen primarily, but rather Western-style orchestra, written by Yo-Yo Ma. **smh**
上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi – Musings on the arts of Japan and beyond
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Wicked L
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Oki no kami
Speaking of Yakuza films, i highly recommend Gonin Saga Directors Cut , as much as i would like to say," its the best yakuza film in years". There just arn't any these days, save for Kitano's Outrage Trilogy (newest one comes out on BLU/DVD on the 24th, torrents also of course ).
This is a direct sequel to the first film,set 20 years later, the children of the original quintet, come together to succeed where their parents failed. Like the original, they are a quirky bunch including one being a cop, who initially wants no part of any scheme. Its actually better written and more complex than the original, but it does not stint on the violence either. Its on Avitaz, and get the directors cut over the regular version .

Back to The Outsider, i was worried it would be another American Yakuza,but far from it .
Edited by Wicked L, Apr 16 2018, 08:56 AM.
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kitsuno
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The Shogun

Toranosuke
Apr 16 2018, 07:13 AM
Quote:
 
It bugs me because everyone points to "Memoirs of a Geisha" as Hollywood doing it "right", despite it being terrible, despite it being populated by Chinese actors, despite it being in English, despite it being weird Hollywoodized Japanese culture, despite being written by a white man.


I happen to have enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, mainly for the aesthetic qualities. The costumes, the architecture, give the impression of being correct, and they just sort of wrap you up into this aesthetic world. But, that said, as you point out, on a point-by-point basis, yeah, no one should be saying this is Hollywood getting it "right." To add even one more point to those you've named, the musical score doesn't even employ traditional koto or shamisen primarily, but rather Western-style orchestra, written by Yo-Yo Ma. **smh**
For what it's worth, I didn't mind the book that much. But the English dialogue and Chinese actors/actresses drove me nuts.
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Sam
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Quote:
 
Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it 20% while actual people who watch movies gave it 73%, so this just highlights how the critics were trying to jump on the clickbait bandwagon with "whitewashing", whereas for the most part the people who watched the movie liked it.
I looked at the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and they are rather self-contradictory, my favorite was the LA Times review. Its second paragraph starts with:
Quote:
 
"The Outsider" stars Jared Leto, which has raised some ire among film buffs tired of seeing American and British actors take the lead in movies set in Asia.
The reviewer seems unaware of the true story the movie is based on and the fact that originally the movie was to be directed by Takashi Miike with Tom hardy as the lead (Hardy left during pre-production which then prompted Miike's departure from the project). At any rate, the short review ends with:
Quote:
 
"The Outsider" is a slick copy of multiple, much-better films and TV series. It's so well-polished it's practically featureless.
But there are no examples! As someone who is not familiar with the genre I could have used a list of better films and TV series. In a strange way the reviewer's description makes the case for the movie for those westerners who are not familiar with the genre and want an entry point.

This reminded me of Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus for Ghost in the Shell:
Quote:
 
Ghost in the Shell boasts cool visuals and a compelling central performance from Scarlett Johansson, but the end result lacks the magic of the movie's classic source material.
For Kubrick's sake, the source material doesn't count as "classic" for the general American audience!
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