An American becomes a member of the Japanese yakuza and tries to help the clan who are under a power pressure from a rivaling gang.
Less stylised than Only God Forgives (2013), director Martin Zandvliet offers a well filmed, satisfying, yet, paint by numbers gangster screenplay from
Andrew Baldwin in the vain of a string of 80s and 90s Japanese organized crime syndicate films, including the likes of American Yakuza (1993) and Black Rain (1989). That said, what makes The Outsider standout and more interesting from many other yakuza yarns is the 1954 post WWII backdrop and the strong cast performances.
The tone and score compliments Zandvliet's well staged ultra violent moments - fingers are cut off, throats are cut and people are shot, strangled and stabbed. With deaths echoing the Godfather trilogy writer Baldwin wisely includes the staple themes loyalty, betrayal and forbidden love with Zandvliet bringing these visually to life with the grease and atmosphere of the 50s, injected into the costumes sets and locations.
Jared Leto's snake like performance as prisoner of war Nick Lowell is a highlight as he becomes part of the yakuza. The Shiromatsu patriarch, Akihiro, played wonderfully by Min Tanaka is notable. Tadanobu Asano is memorable as Yakuza member Kiyoshi who Nick helps out of an Osaka prison.
Overall, not a gangster game changer but enjoyable nonetheless.