Hidden Gems: Boiling Point (1990)
Takeshi Kitano’s Boiling Point is strange, and strangely therapeutic, too. The film is about a baseball player who gets into trouble with gangsters and seeks help from a bar owner with underworld connections. Whatever you’re visualizing right now based on that synopsis is most likely incorrect, and very much so. It’s not the Boiling Point starring Wesley Snipes, this is Japanese (and Snipes is clearly not japanese).
Boiling Point is such a crazy movie with wild characters and situations, yet has little music and contains an abundance of long takes. And even with all of that to its name, it’s still an astonishing and engaging film that is oddly soothing to watch. The scenery, the performances, and the direction combine to make a quiet and peaceful film even when violence ensues. You just sit there and watch and observe and wonder what will happen next; not out of suspense but out of curiosity. You can tell when a film is truly great when a character has no lines at all, but you still care about them and identify with them and are intrigued by them.
Takeshi Kitano’s writing and direction go hand in hand to create a subtle tone that works perfectly for this film. To go with that, the performances all across the ensemble all perfectly match the set tone. Everyone is quiet and relaxed, even in dire situations, which is hilarious (especially the lead actor, Yūrei Yanagi); consistency is kept at all costs, which I applaud. With this same plot, given to any other director, you would’ve had over the top, dynamic shots with intense gunfights and slick characters. But here, this is real life, and Kitano wants to capture that. He’s making a film about real life, real characters, and real vices set to an absurd plot—and I loved it.
Another aspect I love about the story is that it satisfies the audience, it always does. Anyone who wrongs someone else gets what they deserve; all wrongs are brought to a right. Rarely do I watch films where I think “fight back, do it” and the character actually does. This film really just hit all of the right notes for me.
It’s a tranquil, bizarre, funny, and engaging film about respect and solitude. Takeshi Kitano has written, directed, and starred in an underappreciated masterpiece.