Boiling Point (1990) Review

"Boiling Point" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Boiling Point" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: San Tai Yon X Jujatsu; 3-4x Jugatsu
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Producer: Hisao Nabeshima, Takio Yoshida, Masayuki, Mori
Cast: Masahiko Ono, Yuriko Ishida, Takahito Iguchi, Minoru Iizuka, Makoto Ashikawa, Hisashi Igawa, Bengal, Johnny Ohkura, Katsuo Tokashiki, Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi)
Running Time: 98 min.

By The Reviewer With No Name

Boiling Point seems to be one of the lesser liked/known of films in Kitano’s filmography (It’s actually the last Kitano film I’ve seen so far besides Dolls and Zatoichi), that I can’t really understand. Most people just see Brother, Sonatine or Hana Bi first and then move onto his other works like Kikujiro, A Scene at the Sea and Violent Cop then eventually sit through Getting Any?. Most regard Violent Cop as the basis of how Takeshi came to have such a subtle laid back style in his movies. Well, I think they’re half wrong and half right. Boiling Point is more experimental then Violent Cop in terms of characters, direction, acting, plot, humor and even violence whereas Violent Cop was more like the experimental showcase for Takeshi’s style of violence and dark humor. But Violent Cop was partly done with the cast and most of the script, I like to think of it this way. When you’re asked to finish half of a puzzle that’s already completed is like how Takeshi came to make Violent Cop. But when Takeshi tried to make the puzzle himself with this film. Hense why Violent Cop felt more full-on with the characters and story.

There’s a lot of negatives in this film but I’ll touch opon those a bit later on. But now, I’ll rant about the good things and I’ll stop the Violent Cop to Boiling Point comparisons.

I’ll go on about the story and plot before I get to that. Masaki’s a slacker-type individual whose character really goes nowhere in the film. He’s kinda depressing to look at in some scenes where he basically never reacts to anything that goes on around him. The story itself is something you can tell someone about a friend of a friend of a friend of yours who got into some kinda trouble with a gang, then sorted it out with unnecessary ideas or plans, that’s basically it. IN between the weak but on-going story is a bunch of events and situations that take place in the film, some of which not involving ANY of the main characters at all. They’re funny situations but have no real place in the film itself. The second half of the film is completely different then the first half really. Only two main characters really go on to Okinawa in search of a gun. And that’s Dankan and Masaki really. The subplot is Uehara’s method of revenge against the yakuza who want HIM dead. He plot veers away from the actual story again with Uehara’s story.

A great positive about the film is that it’s totally unpredictable. I mean the plot veers away from the actual story for the first 45 minutes. The main incident occurs about 15 minutes in and a few others regarding the plot and story but that’s basically it. Just the main character Masaki sitting back and watching many different incidents occur within his eyes. The film is downright hilarious, it may be the second funniest film Kitano’s ever made that’s above Kikujiro and below Sonatine. The characters are your typical stereotypes/jerks but they have some kinda charm that makes you laugh. Especially the ex-yakuza baseball coach Iguchi, whom of which takes shit from NO ONE, not even the yakuza gang Masaki goes up against. He’s the second most badass character in this film then Kitano himself. He looks like an easy going fellow at first, but then you dig into his character and you see him for what he really is. A jerk. Like the one scene where he beats a yakuza named Muto (another great character) and has a minute and a half long deal with how Muto disrespected him back at the yakuza HQ when Muto said he’d call him Iguchi instead of Mr. Iguchi. So when Iguchi beats him down outside, he says “stop it Mr. Iguchi” then the rest goes on with them both saying “Iguchi” Mr. Iguchi” to each other, until Muto says Iguchi. Then Iguchi proceeds to knock him out with a crate on the ground. The comedy in Boiling Point works very, very well where most of it is used (this isn’t a film to take seriously). Like the second baseball game where two of the funniest scenes in the movie take place, Iguchi telling off the empire, then chasing a player from the different team down the field. It’s all subtle and somewhat lightweight but it works really well.

The humor in the second half of the film where Kitano’s character Uehara comes into the film is WAY more dark and absurd. Like Kitano gleefully raping his friend to bulling and intimidating both characters and non-characters. His attitude is totally disrespectful and brutish. He’s the only character who seems to be different then the rest, because like I said before, all of the characters are just your average folks. Uehara on the other hand is a moody, mean person who is unexpected badass. But Uehara has nice companions along with him for his part, his girlfriend who he treats like shit and his guy-friend who he rapes happily. Kitano’s character is a big thumbs up for the movement of the plot and how he fits into this scheme which really he has nothing to do with. Awesome

There is more hilarious moments of humor throughout the film like jump cutting implied fights and motorcycle accidents to Iguchi’s exploits. Masaki himself does a few funny (and dim-witted things) during the film, but his character is more like an audience member watching all of these events and situations unfold in front of him. Dankan also makes a worthy debut in a Kitano film as Masaki’s buddy who tags along for the ride and gets into more then one funny accident himself. One of which is him knocking out some spoiled kid who trys to come onto him (it seemed like that) and another where (it’s tasteless really) he can’t wipe his ass after taking a shit in the bushes, so he runs into the ocean to clean out his colon.

Now for the negatives of the film. The pace of the film in almost excruciatingly slow, the baseball game is like 8 minutes and there’s no real highlights there except the introduction to Iguchi, Masaki, Dankan and Akira (Akira pops up a few times as the happy-go-lucky friend of Masaki). It’s a slow and kinda tedious way to start the film, but almost everything after that works out fine besides an overlong scene at an airport.

Another thing that bugged me was the ending. The ending has to be one of the biggest letdowns I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the only times that Takeshi attempted something extremely cliché, and Takeshi failed tring that. But it’s more or less another experimental thing that Takeshi tries out. But there’s many things you must know before watching this film.

– The film’s very, very slow. If you don’t like that, then stay away.
– I recommend not seeing this one first outta the fact that it’s nothing like Sonatine or Hana Bi.
– There’s no musical score or anything like that. No Hisaishi tunes, just Dankan’s AWFUL singing.
– Takeshi is in the film for only 20 minutes.
– There’s very minimal violence, but when it shows up, it’s quite brutal.
– The main character has approximately 7 or 8 lines in the film, people speak for him.
– Don’t expect depth or any real symbolism.
– ALL of the humor is subtle, no Getting Any? Style shit.
– The ending fucking blows.
– The direction is pretty sloppy and incoherent, most of the humor and events have less to do with the actual story.

Regarding the violence, the film has a very brutal feel to it, like the feel in Pulp Fiction whereas that film wasn’t violent but people dismissed it as extremely violent. Boiling point is the same, everything seems more violent in nature or real life then if you interpret the violence in Boiling Point as a movie “universe” itself like with Brother and Violent Cop.

I can’t quite understand the message that the film portrays. Because what I really saw was a theme of standing up to the enemy or asshole who wrongs you. Like Iguchi with people in general, Masaki with the yakuza and Uehara with the other yakuza’s, And another theme of anti social or just sociopathic people in general. Masaki doesn’t communicate with anyone throughout the film and he seems rather embarrassed with his actions when he trys to look good or try at something. Uehara on the other hand is the exact opposite of Masaki, he’s a loudmouth with select friends and many, many enemies who takes shit from no one but gives shit to everyone (it’s gratuitous almost). Think of that while watching the film then look at the ending and notice the little difference in Masaki.

The feel and tone is like every one of Takeshi’s yakuza/crime films. It’s gritty and bleak but has a very down-to-earth laid back feel. The ending is very abrupt and pretty bleak. But out of ALL of Kitano’s films, this is the one that feels the most realistic/down-to-earth.

So anyways, I find this to be one of my favorite Kitano films, it’s just weird, funny and at times absurd, with great characters, and humor. I’d recommend it if you’ve seen most of Kitano’s other films and you know his style for subtle humor and aesthetic violence/scenery. Bah fuck it, just buy it if you want too, but keep this review (or rant) in mind while watching it.

The Reviewer With No Name’s Rating: 8/10

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2 Responses to Boiling Point (1990) Review

  1. Ray says:

    If all you can say about the ending is that it ‘fucking blows’ and is a ‘cliche’ you haven’t got the point of the movie or Kitano’s technique at all. Did you even notice that the only two times scenes are edited in out of linear sequence is when Uehara flashes forward when thinking about killing the mob boss, and at the ending, which goes back to the baseball game? Did you notice how Kitano carefully crafts parallels between Masaki Uehara (Masaki mistakingly asking the male waiter out at the beginning and Uehara’s homosexuality, for one.) The ending of the movie was not a mere twist, but an ambiguous and open-ended shot which brought the theme of masculine identity full circle. You to think beyond the mechanics of narrative to really get what Kitano was trying to do.

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