Plot: Masaki (Yurei Yanagi) works as a gas station attendant, but his passion lies in baseball and while his team isn’t the most successful, he takes pride in the skill of his teammates and coaches. But when he winds up on the wrong side of the local yakuza, his beloved coach is taken hostage and with no other recourse, Masaki plans to stage his own rescue operation. He recruits his best friend and begins a search for weapons, but en route to their final showdown, the friends run into bizarre crime boss Uehara (Takeshi Kitano). The criminal is able to show them how to navigate the world of the yakuza, but also gets them involved in some wild situations and always seems poised to erupt in random violence. Will this colorful band of misfits find Masaki’s coach and save him, or has Uehara led them down an even darker path?
Entertainment Value: This is a wild one and to me, just a potent cocktail of cinematic craziness that has to be seen to be believed. I think what makes Boiling Point so off the rails to me is that there is such a strong sense of “anything can happen,” especially once Uehara shows up. I still think the movie is interesting and well crafted before the arrival of the unpredictable crime boss, but his presence turns the experience upside down and takes the film to a new level. So the second half is a much different movie, but the first half is by no means slow or passing time until Uehara, as the story is good and the film never fails to keep you reeled in. The tone is bizarre, as it veers between surreal, sometimes humorous instances, brutal violence, and Uehara’s no holds barred approach to life, which makes for a unique experience. The shifts don’t throw off the movie’s flow in the least and despite some downright outrageous sequences, I think all the tumblers fall into place in Boiling Point. The film is manic and it owns that, so by embracing the wild tone, the entire movie is elevated. So yes, Boiling Point is a strange movie, but it is also a masterful one and Takeshi Kitano’s often surreal vision is one that you’ll remember long after the end credits roll.
This is likely a pattern for almost any movie in which he is involved, but I think once again, Takeshi Kitano steals the show in Boiling Point. To be fair, he doesn’t show up until about halfway into the movie, but once he does, things are never the same and he simply commands the screen. Even smaller moments wind up as epic thanks to him, including just sitting in a field with a flower crown on. Such a quiet moment, but beyond bananas thanks to his performance to that point and that shows how skilled he is, to use facial expressions and silence to such great effect. He is also the master of quiet menace, able to have these violent, outrageous bursts of madness, but keep his cool and just come off like an apex predator in the process. That is the perfect approach for Uehara, so again, he is just an absolute pleasure to watch here. The cast also includes Yurei Yanagi, Yuriko Ishida, and Eri Fuse.
The Disc: Boiling Point looks quite good on Blu-ray, thanks to Film Movement Classics, as the label has delivered a rock solid visual presentation. The print used is clean and has minimal signs of wear or age related concerns, though there is what seems to be some light, inherent softness present. But that doesn’t mean the treatment lacks detail, as the image is mostly sharp and certainly offers a substantial improvement over previous DVD editions. The colors look natural and contrast is on the mark, so this proves to be a worthwhile upgrade across the board. As for extras, we have an interview with star Yurei Yanagi, as well as the film’s trailer.