The Thai title translates as “The Outrage”. The location shooting was done in northern Thailand. with much of the action near a sensuous waterfall. At the Gate of the Ghost might not have the kind of impact that Rashomon had when it was released over sixty years ago, but more than many remakes, is worth investigating for the reworking of a now classic story. That’s right, another Akira Kurosawa influenced film. Based on a play written by Thai playwright M.R. Kukrit Pramoj which was in turn based on Rashomon’s script, like the movie that inspired it the picture is an interesting take on honesty and morality based around a mystery explained by the testimony of those who were there.
A warlord is found dead in the forest, killed by a sword. A monk, a woodcutter and a common criminal are in a cave during a storm, and they discuss the crime with four completely different versions of the same event. The first is told from the perspective of the accused killer; the second by the warlord’s wife; the third by a shaman channeling the ghost of the victim; and lastly; from the woodcutter. All four are radically at odds with the others, and so by the end the viewer must decide what the truth is. It is somewhat interesting, with sub par acting all around, but colorful scenery and a beautiful lead actress, Laila Boonyasak.
This is not your standard-issue Asian film. There is no real martial artistry, no flying warriors, no magical beings; if this reviewer were to categorize this film, it would be more of a dramedy-mystery, of the American variety. It is merely a story, as told in several perspectives. The entertainment is that you do not know who is telling the real truth, even the deceased, as told by the shaman. To the hermit, these are just stories, told to inflate the egos of the storyteller. In the end, truth is transient, and the Truth, in fact, is what you believe. But even then, there’s nothing short of gripping moments that The Outrage is filled with, because with each retelling from a different personality, or perspective, adds to the richness of the tale, and examination into the basic selfish human psyche.
The cast do well with the effectively scripted material and the visuals are consistently impressive enough that the movie is never less than a treat for the eyes. It doesn’t necessarily improve on Kurosawa’s movie, but it does offer up a unique and worthwhile alternate take on the story. With white make-up, blacked out teeth, and exaggerated movements, singer Radklao Amartisha personifies the most extreme stylization in the film. Whether such a character is historically accurate or not doesn’t matter. Within the context of this film, it works. Gosh, I am being pretty forgiving in this review. Perhaps this film struck a chord with me or I am in a good mood. Nonetheless, If you are a fan of Kurosawa, however, you might want to give this a look to see his masterpiece through the eyes of another director.