Exhilarating and unpredictable, Boiling Point is too harsh for my taste, but especially since co-star and director Kitano depicts violence against women in it, and with no soundtrack, the film has a strangely unsettling quality that is hard to shake off.
An encounter with a yakuza gangster puts him in the middle of a bitter conflict between ordinary shopkeepers and yakuza, who are somehow offended by the baseball player’s behavior.
An uninspired amateur baseball player, Masaki (Yuri Yanagi), is a lazy, easy-going man who just wanders through life: He has a men’s job at a gas station, has trouble getting along with men and women (especially women), and is a very poor baseball player, despite constantly trying to improve in the amateur league in his area. He has no real friends and is often ridiculed by his teammates and fellow players. When an arrogant yakuza gangster comes to get gasoline while Masaki is at work, the gangster scolds him and hits him for being a fool, but instead of mistaking him for a fool, he hits the gangster with his fist, causing an uproar inside him. The gangster takes the matter to his boss, who asks him to forget it, but the gangster wants reprisals, not only against Masaki, but also against his colleagues and the company Masaki works for. Things soon get out of hand, so Masaki and one of his colleagues decide to travel to Okinawa to buy guns and bring them home to kill the gangster who wants to close their business. During their odyssey, they meet a deranged and disgraced yakuza named Uehara (played by Takeshi Kitano, who also directs), who is hanging out in a bar with some friends. Uehara immediately embraces the strange and uncomfortable genius of Masaki and his friend, forcing them into a 24-hour odyssey that includes daylight humiliation, rape, murder and robbery, exposing them to the frightening realities that the yakuza lifestyle promotes. Following the chronology of his own life, Uehara’s behavior becomes even more chaotic and dangerous, and when he helps supply the two ordinary boys he has taken under his wing with weapons, it seems that Masaki is only humbly filling up when in reality he has a chance to take revenge on the yakuza.
Exhilarating and unpredictable, Boiling Point is a little too harsh for my taste, but mainly because co-star and director Kitano presents violence against women, and without a soundtrack, the film has a strangely unsettling quality that is hard to shake off. There are also a few surprisingly ridiculous moments in the film that are rooted in suspense, and by the end of the film you’re a little confused about what happened, but that’s just the way the film is edited. Kitano is an unavoidable and convincing presence on the screen, and this film is another testament to that.
The film classic has been released by Boiling Point on a beautiful Blu-ray with two bonus features to watch, and a booklet with information about the making of the film.