Noob Reviews: The Outsider (2018)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is The Outsider?
Set in Japan after the allies occupied in 1954, The Outsider follows the exploits of a non-Japanese American named Nick Lowell who unknowingly saves the life of a Yakuza boss (Kiyoshi) in prison. After being released from prison, Nick is summoned to meet the Yakuza family for which the boss worked. Promised the world as a form of repayment for saving the life of Kiyoshi. But looked down upon by many modern Yakuza as a simple gaijin. Through hard work, determination and a will to succeed Nick soon finds himself working his way into the heart of the Yakuza's operation and becoming Yakuza himself.
Unfortunately for Nick and the family he serves (the Shiromatsu), this is but the tip of an iceberg that will see them going to war with a rival family (the Seizu). Over territory, profits and love interest called Miyu who has chosen the gaijin Nick as her lover (and unborn baby's father) over a Yakuza member whose loyalties only truly lie with himself.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official Trailer -
When did it come out?
The film was released on Netflix in March 2018.
What can you tell us about the plot?
It is Japan 1954. We meet the main protagonist (Nick) inside of Osaka prison. Nick, unfortunately, comes across an attempted Yakuza hit between two different families and ends up saving a very influential Yakuza member by the name of Kiyoshi. From here on out it is a two-hour roller coaster of the ins and outs of both Japanese Yakuza culture and Nick’s drive to become a member of the Shiromatsu Yakuza family.
Unfortunately, Nick is not long in the employ of the family when he crosses paths with members of the Seizu. A yakuza family with roots in Kobe, one of the sixth largest cities in Japan. Instantly taking a dislike to the gaijin and the Shiromatsu in general, the Seizu set about seeing them all run off of what they perceive to be their territory or killed.
After surviving a weapons deal gone wrong, Nick further heightens the tension between the two families by killing multiple Seizu in defence of himself. Although the Shiromatsu try to make amends, the terms the Seizu are willing to settle on are an insult to the head of the Shiromatsu family and see him turning them down. Which escalates tensions to a full turf war.
Add into this a love interest (Miyu) who is sister to Kiyoshi and lusted after by Orochi (who is very anti-American and always looking down on Nick). Who takes Nick as her lover. And a traitor in the Shiromatsu family that would sell out his ‘brothers’ for more power. And you have an engrossing tale.
Who are some of the actors and actresses we might know?
Emile Hirsch (Paulie Bowers)
Jared Leto (Nick Lowell)
Kippei Shiina (Orochi)
Min Tanaka (Akihiro)
Nao Ōmori (Seizu)
Shiori Kutsuna (Miyu)
Tadanobu Asano (Kiyoshi)
What did you think of The Outsider?
Overall I thought The Outsider was a terrific film, the cinematography and way in which 1954 Japan had been created for the various scenes were fantastic. There is a great scene that sees Nick taken out to a remote temple for his Yakuza initiation ceremony. The setting was beautiful, and the whole service was so well done and from my historical understanding, accurate. In fact, every detail the writers and director have gone to great lengths to bring to us to ensure there is a sense of authenticity that adds to the immersion.
Although few in number, the action scenes in the film are well choreographed with believable fight sequences and weaponry. Whether it be firearms or melee. Overall though the acting was on point and you could really pick up on the tension at the beginning between the Japanese and Americans, not only with the Yakuza and their ‘pet gaijin’ but also with an American business owner who pops up during a shakedown for protection money.
On the flip side, although there were not many downsides to The Outsider, I do believe it could have been longer as at times it felt some scenes were rushed or had bits missing to make them fit. The character arcs for some aspects could have also been expanded and explored a bit better too. Such as Miyu and her various relationships with the Yakuza and its members before Nick arrived. Just a few little things that niggle away, questions that could have perhaps been answered but unfortunately were not.
Overall though a thoroughly enjoyable watch and although not the best Yakuza film out there it is very high in their rankings.
What overall rating would you give The Outsider?
I would give The Outsider a solid 4 out of 5 bananas.
As mentioned above, it is a thoroughly enjoyable film. Although few and far between, there are a few flaws in some character arcs that just left a handful of loose ends to what otherwise is a great story. Jared Leto was on point as Nick and a fantastic bit of casting, in my opinion.
Thank you very much for checking out the review, and if you are interested in The Outsider and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.