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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Outsiders Moderators: bert
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  Author    Outsiders  (currently 7111 views)
Don
Posted: September 23rd, 2007, 3:49pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Outsiders by James McClung - Thriller - An adopted Japanese-American and his best friend cross paths with a vicious Yakuza crime syndicate while on vacation in Japan. 93 pages - pdf, format


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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  March 1st, 2010, 10:54pm
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James McClung
Posted: September 23rd, 2007, 7:31pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for posting this, Don.

Anyway, this is my first non-horror feature length. I'd say it's pretty brutal and a little unconventional as far as the crime genre goes but horror couldn't have been further from my mind while writing this. With the exception of Oblivion, I'd also say this is my first script that's about more than just what's happening onscreen. My aim was to make this more character-driven than any of my other scripts and I think I succeeded. I pushed myself harder than ever in that department.

Outsiders took me almost a year to write. Half the year went to planning. Writing it took forever, which has never happened to me before. Usually, I can churn out a script within three weeks or so. In any case, I feel confident in saying that this my best work. Any comments would be much appreciated.

Also, thanks to the people who read Black Market and commented that having Yakuza gangsters show up at the end was a bad idea. Otherwise, I wouldn't have written a whole other screenplay about them. You know who you are .


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GM
Posted: September 23rd, 2007, 8:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hey James,

The first 10 pgs. are really good. Very character driven. What I see wrong is the first slugline: Int. black screen. It should be black screen. A simple mistake. Other than, this part is clear. I'll let you know some more if I come around.  

Gabe
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Shelton
Posted: September 24th, 2007, 11:25pm Report to Moderator
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Hey James,

Been awhile since I've read anythign from you, and it's been awhile since I've read a thriller as well so I guess I'll kill two birds with one stone.

First, something seems a little off in your dialogue, like the margin is a little too far to the right.  Not too much, but noticeable.

I think you could stand to break up these discussions between Grant and Ramon a little.  I like what they're saying, but it may help to break things up and get rid of some of those big blocks by adding in some bs "uh huh" and "yeah type responses.

I like the scene between the Gambler and Yoshinori.  Cool stuff.

Is Tadao's name pronounced Ta-Dow?  I keep reading that in my head, with emphasis.  Ta-Dow!  hahaha.

I like the switch with the girls in the club.  They think they're in, but end up getting mocked.  Nice touch at making them even more out of place.

Bottom of page 24/25 - Damn!  Those are some wicked monologues!

The phone call between Tadao and Hotaka seems like it shoudl be intercut or a VO from Tadao.

That Tatsu's a weird looking bastard.

I thought the pacing of this was pretty well done.  I was a little worried as the interrogation scenes went on and the storty didn't really seem to move out of there, but it never really seemed to go off track anywhere.

Not too sure how I feel about the ending.  It's certainly refreshing to see a script where not everything is hunky dorey when its all said and done,  but it was borderline uneventful.  I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of Yoshinori at the end, really struggling with his fate, maybe a slight bit of reconsideration.

On the whole a nice piece, but those blocks of dialogue throught really need to be broken up.  It would probably add about 10 pages to the script, but it's room you can spare, and I think it would really help the flow of the read.  I actually caught myself skimming in some parts.

A pretty solid piece all around.


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sniper
Posted: September 25th, 2007, 5:36am Report to Moderator
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Hey James,

Just finished Outsiders and here's my review.

SPOILERS BELOW

This a pretty solid story I think. The premise is fairly simple - a case of mistaken identity (or so it would seem), interwoven with a young man's search for his origin. I thought it was great how you managed to balance the different storylines without getting lost. The start was good, it set the right tone for the script and it introduced the characters nicely, although the first act was a little too long for my liking (you were nearly at page 50 before going into the second act). The second act is basically one long interrogation/torture scene that IMO fails to really set up the third act properly. The third act is where the this script came apart for me. Suddenly Grant is Yoshinori's long gone son? At that point this script turned into Dynasty for me - a very deus ex machina ending.

The whole scene with Toshio and Jun just sorta pops up out of nowhere and it seems very staged. It was a damn cheap way of getting Grant out of the interrogation room and you should seriously have a look at this, cos' as it plays now it doesn't hold water.

The characters themselves could use a little more depth IMO. I guess you could consider Grant the main character and while his search for his biological parents is certainly an emotional filled journey, it does come off a bit - well, not forced - but kinda wooden in my book. This is mainly because most of the emotions and turmoil his going through comes across through his dialogue and that hurts the story character-wise. Again, it's the classic question of when to tell and when to show - it's a fine and difficult line to walk, I know.

Ramon was a little too much IMO, his kinda laid back big mouth attitude quickly grew stale on me. There's nothing wrong with that if that's what you were going for, cos' it defensibly means that you created a character that stood out - so kudos for that. But it was kind of obvious that he was going to be the 'sidekick' who gets wasted in a bloody fashion.

The Yakuza characters came off as I expected them to, (Mikio was maybe a little too pussy-like to be a believable gangster). Since this is set in Japan there are obviously going to be a lot of Japanese names (duh) and some of them were kinda difficult to tell from the other - I kept getting them mixed up. Maybe you should have fewer named Yakuza characters. All in all I think you managed to nail the Japanese characters really well - and this is from a guy who's never spoken to a Japanese person before...

My biggest gripes were...

1) You never explain what exactly happened to Yoshikazu and why he shot everybody in the beginning.

2) The dialogue. I don't mean the actual words - cos' they are really well done, I just think there's way too much dialogue in this script. It was like the characters were doing speeches instead of talking to each other. Again, it hurts the script by telling instead of showing.

I did like the writing very much. Your descriptions are spot on, very solid. It flows very nicely and this is also the main reason why this script is such a quick read.

All in all I thought this was an enjoyable read that could evolve into something really good with a little work.


Cheers
Rob


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alffy
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Hey James, seems as though I've pretty much read all your scripts so might as well give this a read, especially as you've now moved into another genre.

Anywho I'll get started...I'll comment as I go so forgive any stupid questions were the answers are revealed later.

SPOILERS.....

Nice interesting start, gets me wondering why Yoshikazu betrayed his father.

Couple of typos top of page 6. You're should be Your, I think.

I'm glad Ramon explains who the Yakuza are lol.

I'm not sure why but Grant and Ramon's conversations remind me of David and Jack's in An American werewolf in London.  I know the surroundings are totally different but I guess it's the 'being in a foreign country and bitching about it' thing.  By the way thats one of my favourate films so thats a compliment.

Yoshinori's dialogue about his son is strange, I don't like the 'second in command line.  It sounds a bit cheesy for me.

Why does Tadao reel off a speech about hating Yoshinori to the gamler if he knows it could get him trouble, seems odd to me that.

Although at times Grant's and ramon's dialogue seems a bit long winded, it's excellently written and characters bounce off each other well.

What the hell's DDR?  Some dance machine I'm guessing.

I like the montage, I've always wondered the correct way to insert one...now I know.

The arcade dance off was a good scene, I liked it.

Maybe a stupid question but do all Yakuza dress the same, I only ask cos you say the Yakuza enter the club, do we know they're Yakuza?

Typo top of page 21 Grant say's he could give a shit, might be couldn't give a shit?  Probs stop with typo's cos they're just nit picking lol.

Sorry can't help myself...typo top of page 27 Grant repeats 'there was' twice in his dialogue.

Ok I'm half an hour in and I'll take a breather.  So far I can see some major changes in your writing, you said you wanted a more character driven story and you've done it here.  I'm intrigued to know if Grant will find his birth parents and what will happen when the Yakuza catch up with him and Ramon.  Grant and Ramon converse well but a little lengthy at times.  Your characters are well developed but I don't know, maybe it's me being English but sometimes they act a bit weird.  In the club when they are dumped by the girls they strop off in a huff with them, I wold have thought they would have stayed and tried their luck with some other girls?

Anywho so far so good, I'll finish this off shortly.


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Souter Fell
Posted: September 25th, 2007, 8:45am Report to Moderator
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James,

Sorry bro but I had to stop. The main thing was the dialogue. All these people were doing were walking around saying exactly what the think. Blatently putting out all there motivation, fears, their step-by-step thought process. A lot of it actually felt like bad anime dialogue. Granted I only got through 30 pages, but I was ready to ditch after Tadeo's all out devulging of his entire character to the degenerate gambler.

Plus between the Japanese chicks random giggling and the lack of any alcoholic bevarage other than sake, it seemed heavy on stereotypes. If you're gonna set this in a foriegn land, show us something we haven't seen before. Might as well learn while we're there.

The dialogue was my main complaint. The trick is to say the most with the least amount of words. And if done well, what is not said can be more powerful than what is.


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James McClung
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Thanks for the reads, guys.

The general consensus seems to be the dialogue is too bulky and too blatant in spelling out the characters' thoughts and motivations. That's correct on several accounts, I think. This is a dialogue driven script. I wrote it that way and there's too much of it for that to change. I like dialogue and quantity doesn't always bother me. Still, I think I'll take Mike's advice and break up the monologues with some responses from the other characters. I also think I can make some distinctions with what needs to be said and what can be inferred. I wanted the characters to be very detailed so I packed a lot into their dialogue but I'm starting to realize that a good chunk of it can be inferred from the rest. I'll get to work on that.


Quoted from Shelton
Is Tadao's name pronounced Ta-Dow?  I keep reading that in my head, with emphasis.  Ta-Dow!  hahaha.


That's correct, sir.


Quoted from sniper
The whole scene with Toshio and Jun just sorta pops up out of nowhere and it seems very staged. It was a damn cheap way of getting Grant out of the interrogation room and you should seriously have a look at this, cos' as it plays now it doesn't hold water.


I disagree. That whole conversation stems from what's actually going on in the scene. It seems like a stretch but if you follow the conversation, you'll see it's not and evolves naturally like any conversation. It's also true to life that these guys would be so desensitized to violence that they could talk about their sex lives while someone's being tortured.


Quoted from sniper
You never explain what exactly happened to Yoshikazu and why he shot everybody in the beginning.


Not important. Even if I did explain why Yoshikazu did what he did (he disappeared afterwards BTW, that's definitely mentioned), it wouldn't change the plot at all. Besides, there's obviously a lot of talk about Yoshikazu and what kind of person he was. He's a scumbag. Whatever the reason for his betrayal was, it wasn't a good one. The way I always saw it, he wanted out, saw an opportunity, and took it. Still, not important.


Quoted from alffy
Why does Tadao reel off a speech about hating Yoshinori to the gamler if he knows it could get him trouble, seems odd to me that.


The gambler's too chickenshit to say anything. Even if he did, it'd just make things worse for him, whether or not Yoshinori believes him.


Quoted from alffy
What the hell's DDR?  Some dance machine I'm guessing.


Yup.


Quoted from alffy
Maybe a stupid question but do all Yakuza dress the same, I only ask cos you say the Yakuza enter the club, do we know they're Yakuza?


It's the same as telling gangsters apart from businessmen, I'd say. The Yakuza are probably dressed a little better.


Quoted from alffy
In the club when they are dumped by the girls they strop off in a huff with them, I wold have thought they would have stayed and tried their luck with some other girls?


Ramon might've thought that'd be a good idea but it's far too big a blow to Grant. He just wants to get out of there. I might throw in a line from Ramon before they leave in the rewrite though. Makes sense.


Quoted from Souter Fell
Plus between the Japanese chicks random giggling and the lack of any alcoholic bevarage other than sake, it seemed heavy on stereotypes. If you're gonna set this in a foriegn land, show us something we haven't seen before. Might as well learn while we're there.


If I ever visit Japan, I'm drinking sake, probably in massive quantities. The Yakuza probably drink sake, also in massive quantities. Also, note the beer bottles on the table in the junkies' apartment.

As for the giggling, most of it is due to the fact that they're dooping these guys and the guys are walking right into it. Still, it's a little much, right? I'll try to cut down on some of it.

As for learning something, I'm not sure what you mean. I figured tourists aren't going to learn much about a foreign country after visiting it for the first time for only two weeks. The reader/viewer's experience should be the same. It's called Outsiders after all.


Quoted from Souter Fell
The trick is to say the most with the least amount of words. And if done well, what is not said can be more powerful than what is.


That's good advice. Thanks, dude!


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sniper
Posted: September 25th, 2007, 2:23pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from James McClung
I disagree. That whole conversation stems from what's actually going on in the scene. It seems like a stretch but if you follow the conversation, you'll see it's not and evolves naturally like any conversation. It's also true to life that these guys would be so desensitized to violence that they could talk about their sex lives while someone's being tortured.

True. I'm not disagreeing with the context of their discussion, but neither Toshio or Jun play a big part in the script - except for this one scene - and that's why it feels out of place IMO that you would suddenly concentrate a fairly long scene on them. Because, obviously, the only point of that scene was for them to get into a fight so that Grant could escape.

Correct me if I'm wrong about that scene.


Quoted from James McClung
Not important. Even if I did explain why Yoshikazu did what he did (he disappeared afterwards BTW, that's definitely mentioned), it wouldn't change the plot at all. Besides, there's obviously a lot of talk about Yoshikazu and what kind of person he was. He's a scumbag. Whatever the reason for his betrayal was, it wasn't a good one. The way I always saw it, he wanted out, saw an opportunity, and took it. Still, not important.

Yoshikazu is pretty much the sole reason for everything that happens to Grant and Ramon, he's mentioned in nearly all the Yakuza scenes and he looms over this entire story. Without ever being shown in any scenes he actually plays a major part in the story. So to say his motives aren't important...

Cheers
Rob


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Souter Fell
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Quoted from James McClung

If I ever visit Japan, I'm drinking sake, probably in massive quantities. The Yakuza probably drink sake, also in massive quantities. Also, note the beer bottles on the table in the junkies' apartment...

As for learning something, I'm not sure what you mean. I figured tourists aren't going to learn much about a foreign country after visiting it for the first time for only two weeks. The reader/viewer's experience should be the same. It's called Outsiders after all.

That's good advice. Thanks, dude!

First off i want to thank you. While not scathing, my review wasn't very positive. You were professional enough to take it all as fair critism, which is hard sometimes, especially on a feature length that you've put almost a year into. That being said, let me expand on these two point:

As an ex Sailor and travel enthusist, I've been all over the world. While never visiting Japan, I have visited four Asian countries along. The point I wanted to make is that just 'cause a country has an identifiable drink doesn't mean everyone consumes it. Point in case, I don't remember seeing one person in Greece drinking ouzo. Also, sake's kinda nasty as it is, but that's neither here nor there.

What I meant about "learning something" is this. Everyone shares a common base perception of a place. and while that is a good point to jump off from, it would be more effective if you showed us something new. It's hard to find if you've never been to a place but with a little digging you can find it. Point in case, there are no strip bars in Hong Kong, but you can hardly find a bar on the main strip that don't have "working girls" waiting for you to come in an buy them thirty dollar drinks and maybe more. It's little things like that that add realism to a foriegn environment.

You can learn, or experience, a lot in a very short amount of time when it comes to culture shock. Anyway, hope some of this helps.



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James McClung
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Quoted from sniper
Because, obviously, the only point of that scene was for them to get into a fight so that Grant could escape.


Umm... yeah. I won't try to weasel my way out of that one. It seems to me that in the movies, people get out of these situations. Either they've got a piece of glass or something hidden up their sleave or some sort of Hostel type situation breaks out and they're able to escape. This is the case 95% of the time. It's lame. I wanted something different. I understand it's kind of random but in a way, it's much more realistic than if Grant was able to escape on his own terms. In real life, you probably couldn't escape a situation like this unless something unexpected happened amongst your captors.

The conversation itself isn't of major importance. It's really more of a breather from what's going on in the plot. I wanted it to be funny and disturbing at the same time. Still, it has to occur in order for Grant to escape. I don't think there's one scene in this script that I wasn't sure needed to be there.


Quoted from sniper
Yoshikazu is pretty much the sole reason for everything that happens to Grant and Ramon, he's mentioned in nearly all the Yakuza scenes and he looms over this entire story. Without ever being shown in any scenes he actually plays a major part in the story. So to say his motives aren't important...


Yoshikazu is most definitely an important character. For a character who never shows up onscreen, he's nearly as developed as the rest of the characters. Still, whatever his motives are, they don't change what happens to Grant and Ramon, how it happens, or why it happens. They have no bearing over the story whatsoever. It's his actions that cause everything to happen, not the motives behind those actions. Nothing can justify his betrayal. His motives are meant to be a mystery to the Yakuza anyways. Still, from what you do know about Yoshikazu, you could probably get an idea about why he did what he did.


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James McClung
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Quoted from Souter Fell
First off i want to thank you. While not scathing, my review wasn't very positive. You were professional enough to take it all as fair critism, which is hard sometimes, especially on a feature length that you've put almost a year into. That being said, let me expand on these two point:

As an ex Sailor and travel enthusist, I've been all over the world. While never visiting Japan, I have visited four Asian countries along. The point I wanted to make is that just 'cause a country has an identifiable drink doesn't mean everyone consumes it. Point in case, I don't remember seeing one person in Greece drinking ouzo. Also, sake's kinda nasty as it is, but that's neither here nor there.

What I meant about "learning something" is this. Everyone shares a common base perception of a place. and while that is a good point to jump off from, it would be more effective if you showed us something new. It's hard to find if you've never been to a place but with a little digging you can find it. Point in case, there are no strip bars in Hong Kong, but you can hardly find a bar on the main strip that don't have "working girls" waiting for you to come in an buy them thirty dollar drinks and maybe more. It's little things like that that add realism to a foriegn environment.

You can learn, or experience, a lot in a very short amount of time when it comes to culture shock. Anyway, hope some of this helps.


Somehow, I missed this before. Anyway, what you say makes sense. I'll take it into consideration. I have to admit I didn't research much about Japan itself although I've seen enough Japanese films to have a general idea of what it looks like in addition to photos of Tokyo taken by students studying abroad at my college (I took a class where we communicated with both the London and Tokyo campuses). It looks different, of course (it's on the other side of the world, after all), but not like how it's often portrayed in Hollywood. I did try to incorporate that into the script with Grant comparing Tokyo to NYC. I didn't want it to be what the characters expected. Having travelled quite a bit myself, I know most places aren't.

In any case, I appreciate the feedback. Thanks.



Revision History (1 edits)
James McClung  -  September 25th, 2007, 9:04pm
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alffy
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Here's the second part of my review James...

Grant's outburst to Ramon in the hotel room really cooked up the atmosphere, I could feel Ramon's difficult situation.

The restroom attack is nice and brutal - love it!

Bottom of page 44 you have EXT. STRIPCLUB - OFFICE, should be INT

Ramon seems a bit aggressive, calling the Yakuza 'motherf**cker'.  Surely he would be a little scared as to what's going on?  I guess it harps back to the hotel room scene where he came off as been a little hesitant in his replys to Grant's abusive behaviour.  If he's the tough man, I would have tought he wouldn't have been affriad to hurt Grant's feelings.

Ramon's change from hard man to not so hard man works well.

OH I got a thing about broken noses, they make me squirm so Tadao twisting Grants is uncomfortable to say the least!

Right 62 pages i and I'm liking it.  The torture scenes are nice and brutal and I'm itching to see what else will happen to Ramon and Grant.

I've been guessing a bit about the reasons behind Grants abduction but I'll keep them to myself at the moment.


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alffy
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Okay sorry for the delay James, had a family issue...

Loved the description of the eating of the cigarette.  Although if this is Tatsu, should you not introduce him as we know thats who Mikio went to pick up?

Oh I kind of understand why you delayed your introduction now, so you follow it with a description of tatsu.  By the way he looks/sounds cool.

The whole blood thickening injection is a nice original touch.

The dialogur between Toshio and Jun about Tatsu sounds to american.

I thought Grant was gonna be some super martial arts guy but nice to see he got his arse kicked by Mikio.

Love the death of Tatsu.

Why does Yoshinori save Grant, then immediately try to shoot him?  Satisfaction of killing him?

Right finished so final conclusion...

I really enjoyed the beginnig of this script, Grant and Ramon were great characters and the search for Grants parents was building a platform.  But the torture scene was a bit long winded, good though but the last third of the script seemed as though not much happened.  It didn't really match the first part.

I liked Tatsu but Tadao who seemed like a promonant character died without progressing to far as character.

I enjoyed this script as a whole but Grant being a Yakuza wasn't a huge surprise.  I'm not to sure why but the ending didn't match the great opening to the story.  The tension built but led only to a torture ending and mass slaughter.

Still good though.


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James McClung
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MAJOR SPOILERS...

Thanks for the read, Alffy.


Quoted from alffy
Ramon seems a bit aggressive, calling the Yakuza 'motherf**cker'. Surely he would be a little scared as to what's going on? I guess it harps back to the hotel room scene where he came off as been a little hesitant in his replys to Grant's abusive behaviour.  If he's the tough man, I would have tought he wouldn't have been affriad to hurt Grant's feelings.


I don't think the two scenes can be compared. I wouldn't say Ramon is afraid of hurting Grant's feelings so much as he's considering whether or not he's saying the right thing. Whether or not what Ramon says is correct, he knows nothing about how Grant feels in this situation and has to be careful not to strike a nerve. Obviously, he does. I don't think the conversation would be realistic otherwise. In any case, I think anyone might behave this way.

While he's being interrogated, Ramon is still a little drunk and not quite thinking straight. In any case, his character is a little reckless. I imagined he would shout and hurl insults in a situation like this so as not to appear weak. His restraint is weakened in his drunk state. Still, it's obviously a front, which is blown when Tadao gives him the exact response he demands. In reality, I think anyone would be scared in a situation like this.


Quoted from alffy
The dialogur between Toshio and Jun about Tatsu sounds to american.


I thought a comment like this might pop up. Anyway, I've seen a lot of Japanese films and I've learned that the Japanese really don't speak that differently from people on the other side of the world. I think Hollywood just seems to suggest otherwise.


Quoted from alffy
Why does Yoshinori save Grant, then immediately try to shoot him?  Satisfaction of killing him?


Yeah, kinda. I think he feels obligated to administer Grant's "punishment" personally. He doesn't intend to save him. It's more like he's stopping Toshio from interfering with his duty.


Quoted from alffy
I liked Tatsu but Tadao who seemed like a promonant character died without progressing to far as character.


I think Tadao does progress as a character. He starts out as Yoshinori's bitter stooge who takes orders without question but before he dies, he finally is able to stand up for himself and demand some respect. Unfortunately for him, Yoshinori tells him exactly what he is afraid to hear. I figured this is the end of his character development. If Grant hadn't stabbed him, he would probably break down. I thought the former would be more depressing. Tadao is a very angry character but anger is a secondary emotion for him. What he really feels is inadequate and he dies fully realizing that.

This sort of leads me into your comments about the ending. Originally, I was going to have Tadao live and take over the clan by opted against it. I wanted Outsiders to be a tragedy in a very traditional sense. Three of the four main characters (the fourth being Ramon) are obsessed with blood (or to a broader extent, family) and end up being destroyed by those obsessions. Both Grant and Yoshinori search for lost blood and end up finding more than they can handle. Tadao demands acceptance into what can be viewed as a father/son relationship and also can't handle the reality of the situation. It seems like there isn't a lot going on in the end but there is. It's just a little more internal than most.

Also, I wanted a more realistic ending this time around. In reality, a foreigner in the hands of criminals would probably die even if he was somehow able to escape captivity. Hence, Grant dies.


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