Review: Boiling Point (1990)

Directed by:
Cast: ,

Distributed in Australia by:

Boiling Point is every Kitano fan’s dream; the humour, the action, the violence, the style, and the narrative, all scream trademark Kitano.

Boiling Point is narratively well crafted. Kitano has done what he always does, which is to create a film with heavy investment in extreme contrast. Often it is the contrast between ultra-violence and humour, or between dynamism and stillness, but in Boiling Point, character contrast is most explicit. The passive characters that make up the film’s baseball team are contrasted against the assertive Yakuza. Uehara (Takeshi Kitano) makes the third contrast, the aggressive ex-Yakuza who dominates all.

How is this contrast being used? Uehara’s character balances out the contrast between the baseball players and the Yakuza. His overbearing aggression and lack of compassion toughens up the naïve and timid players, allowing them to take a more assertive and brazen approach towards their dealings with the Yakuza.

Another aspect that makes itself apparent in Boiling Point is the film’s style. The stylistic traits that have garnered Kitano the title of auteur are presented in fine form, despite it only being his second film. Characters frontally addressing the camera, minimal use of dialogue, spatial discontinuity, and stillness evoked through prolonged shots, are all present. Moreover, Kitano’s usage of style comes across as equally precise in its function when compared to his later and more acclaimed films, such as Hana-Bi and Sonatine. With no filmmaking training, and very little experience, it feels as if Kitano popped out of nowhere with a style of aesthetic expression already refined.

Boiling Point is very funny as well. Kitano is at his comic best, vastly more tactless than his other films like A Scene at the Sea or Kikujiro, but undoubtedly bringing on the laughs through the film’s perverse low brow skits. Let’s face it, who doesn’t find gangster and sports gags funny?

Another selling point is the film’s superb characters and performances. Masaki (Yurei Yanagi) plays the silent character exceptionally well (although there is much debate about this performance). Also, in another great performance, Kitano plays one of the most unruly, crazy, sadistic, violent, and chauvinistic characters ever to grace the screen, yet he still manages to appear comical.

Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong with Boiling Point, either for its entertainment value, its art cinema value, or the bizarre value of seeing Kitano get frisky with other men.

8.5 well used outhouses out of 10.
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