Boiling Point Review
After his success with Violent Cop, a film which Takeshi Kitano took over the reigns as it were and became co-writer, director and star of, Kitano had proven himself as a serious actor and filmmaker, but his true work never really began until the release of Boiling Point. Released to Japanese Cinemas just one year after his successful debut, Boiling Point marked Kitano's first true attempt as writer/director/actor and while it makes for an often enjoyable experience it can only be seen as a taster for what was to come in his later, more accomplished work with the likes of Sonatine and Hana-Bi.
The original Japanese title, 3-4x jugatsu apparently refers to a sport the Japanese have a particular love for, Baseball, and certainly the sport features throughout the film and is used to introduce the various characters. The central plot revolves around Masaki (Masahiko Ono), a character who seemingly cares little about his existence and shows little enthusiasm in life, which means he is always sidelined in his local baseball team, and is generally poor at his job as a Gas Station attendant. It is this lack interest in life that sees Masaki slack off while cleaning a local Yakuza's car, giving them the perfect opportunity to make their move in hustling the Gas Station business. When they do Masaki is easily provoked and lashes out at the Yakuza, this obviously is not the best thing he could have done and from here on his life branches out in a variety of new directions.
When Masaki tells his baseball coach, Iguchi (Takahito Iguchi), of the Yakuza interferences, Iguchi, being a former Yakuza member pays his former colleagues a visit to request they give him face, and leave his friends alone. Unfortunately they disrespect him, which leads to Iguchi escalating matters when he later attacks a Yakuza boss, who in turn later retaliates. After matters have escalated to the point of severe violence Masaki and friend, Akira (Makoto Ashikawa), set upon a quest to obtain a gun, so Iguchi can take revenge. It is on this quest where they meet up with a rogue Yakuza, Uehara (played by Kitano), who has the same goal and takes Masaki and Akira on an adventure they will not soon forget.
Like a great number of films the actual story, at its most basic level, is quite run-of-the-mill. The gangster side of the story, with a Yakuza gang muscling in on a local business has been seen countless times before and after Boling Point was released, while the story of a misguided outcast (Masaki) who somehow finds a purpose in the midst of the underworld is also a common theme. What it all comes down to is the method in which the story is told, and it is here where Takeshi Kitano really excels. Utilising an accomplished cast, and his almost trademark choice of delivery wherein for example, in a car-ride we do not get pages of dialogue, but instead a simple silent journey where the actors expressions help Takeshi present a world that is both intriguing by its reality yet at the same time compelling due to the absurdity of the actions taking place within it.
Takeshi himself delivers another brutal performance as Uehara but manages to take the edge off at all the right moments by inducing some of the comedy he found his fame with long before his film career truly began. The same can be said for the entire film with every actor playing their parts deadly serious, yet through great comic timing and some purely deadpan delivery Takeshi can have you laughing uncontrollably at the most despicable of moments ranging from the flat-out ironic to the plain evil. The mixture of genre's on offer here certainly allow Boiling Point to stand out from his other more serious work, but it also reflects the less ambitious nature of the script and the issues the film deals with, and of course the experimental nature of Kitano's first solo project.
When it comes to flushing out the flaws I believe Boiling Point has it also somehow feels as though I am commending them and I feel this is somewhat down to the experimental and amateur nature of the films various components. Of course I have already mentioned the less accomplished and more so less ambitious nature of the script but due to the delivery and use of comedy I personally never found this to be a problem. Much the same can be said of the choice to forego the use of any musical accompaniment. I desperately miss the beautiful results of Takeshi's collaborations with Joe Hisaishi on future films but for Boiling Point the choice seems a wise one, and only occasionally did I notice the lack of a score. To best describe the shortcomings of Boiling Point would be to simply say that this is a far less in-depth film, and in its own ways, a more commercialised picture that for those who enjoy Kitano's style (and that of many Japanese films) will be an effortless but most enjoyable experience.
A word of warning to any prospective buyers out there, if you have never seen the film before then you would do best to NOT read the summary on the reverse cover - spoilers abound!
Like the previous titles in the Tokyo Bullet range Boiling Point is presented at its original 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio but sadly lacks Anamorphic Enhancement. Using a print that is in excellent condition and showcases only a few white specks and dust marks throughout MIA have created a decent transfer that offers reasonable detail levels and good colour reproduction. Unfortunately the transfer is often overly soft which combined with the lack of Anamorphic Enhancement renders fine detail all but non-existent which results in an adequate but hardly thrilling experience.
The original Japanese Language soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and while generally pleasing in its reproduction of dialogue and sound effects it never exactly raises the bar in terms of separation or audio fidelity. Instead this is a perfectly adequate soundtrack that suits the low budget nature of this film. MIA have included two sets of optional English subtitles that are positioned for both 4:3 and 16:9 Television set owners and unlike the original Takeshi related Tokyo Bullet releases the translation is complete and well presented.
As we have come to expect from the Tokyo Bullet range the choice of extra features is limited at best. The Biographies section is incidental at best, with an all-too brief write-up on Takeshi Kitano followed by a filmography, while a further four actors receive selected Filmographies only. The Production Stills Gallery is worth a momentary glance and seems to be mostly still scenes from the film, while the best extra feature is the interesting Original Theatrical Trailer for Boiling Point. Utilising Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells music the trailer is well constructed although sadly features no English subtitles, the exact same can be said for the further Trailers for other titles in the Tokyo Bullets range (including a sneak peak at Black Angel 2.
Boiling Point comes highly recommended to fans of Takeshi Kitano films, and indeed Japanese films in general although I feel for those taking their first tentative steps into this market then you may well be better served by Kitano's later, more rounded work like Sonatine and Hana-Bi. In terms of DVD quality I can safely say that the Tokyo Bullet range is improving with each release in terms of transfer and subtitle quality, but it still falls far short of what you would expect from a disc retailing at the £19.99 price point.
Last updated: 23/06/2018 02:32:16