Araburu tamashii-tachi (Agitator) (The Outlaw Souls) (2001)
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Critic Reviews for Araburu tamashii-tachi (Agitator) (The Outlaw Souls)
A kaleidoscopic yakuza epic which moves as inexorably towards its climax as an out-of-control juggernaut.
Audience Reviews for Araburu tamashii-tachi (Agitator) (The Outlaw Souls)
Takashi Miike's Agitator is a story set in the world of the Japanese Yakuza. A larger gang engineers the death of two of its smaller rivals leaders in an attempt to absorb them into their family, not counting on the fierce loyalty of one of their factions and their need for retribution. This film is ultimately about the difference between the needs of big business and the individual set in the brutal world of crime. Kunihiko is not shown as a hero exactly, just a man with an honest single-mindedness who cannot forget the loyalty to his "brothers" forged on the street for the sake of business interests; something that the slippery, money obsessed pseudo-bureaucrats at the top of the ladder cannot understand. It's a tough, uncompromising gangster story filled with graphic violence and has some interesting subtexts, as Kunihiko is shown almost as a samurai Ronin who has no purpose in life other than to avenge his master. Scenes involving a woman who I can only assume is Kunihiko's girlfriend pop up randomly and seem out of place mainly because she is never even mentioned when she is off screen, but otherwise its a cleverly plotted and visceral gangster film that I'd recommend to all fans of Takeshi Kitano and Martin Scorsese, or crime drama in general.
It's a sprawling awesome Yakuza epic full of everything the perfect gangster film needs. The movie is long, but builds into a mess of betrayals across all families all coming back to the small Higuchi gang. The movie isn't as violent as the other miike Yakuza films, but it didn't need to be. It's all about the undying loyalty of one solider to his boss and how he takes it on himself to dish out vengeance to anyone and everyone who deserves it. The main character is very likable and this is by far one of the strongest Miike Yakuza films as well as one of the best gangster movies in general out there.
The plot itself is overly convoluted, fairly cliche, and needlessly drawn out. The true value of this movie is found in it unique, and subtlety brilliant execution. Lots of telling character moments, strong acting and cleaver compositions. Miike has a talent for making over the top comic book elements seem mundane and naturalistic.
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