Plot Outline: Masaki is a strange and emotionally inward kid who spends his days playing baseball on his junior team. He’s not that good at the sport however and rarely swings at the ball when at bat and on most afternoons he finds himself working out of a gas station, where he’s also not very good. Masaki’s baseball coach, an immature and greedy man, is a retired Yakuza who now runs a restaurant with his girlfriend. Masaki one day makes the mistake of trying to hit a Yakuza who starts a fight with him at his job. The mob then begins trying to shut down the business. Masaki’s baseball coach decides to try and help out and meets with his old bosses, but things go wrong and eventually he is badly injured. The injured man makes plans to go to Okinawa and buy a gun to kill the thugs, but is too weak to leave his bed. So Masaki and one of his friends takes it on themselves to do the job. Once in Okinawa they meet up with some strange low level thugs, and things don’t go quite as planned.
Although he isn’t in the film for an incredible amount of time, Kitano’s character is simply out of control. He beats people, shows no respect for anyone and even rapes people, regardless of gender. The character is despicable, but he’s hard not to watch. Kitano actually gets to act in the film, rather than being the emotionless bully that he is so often criticized of playing. The character is so greedy and selfish that he just spins endlessly out of control. While he’s hardly the focus point, Kitano’s character is what sticks in your mind after watching. Although he has demonstrated the ability to call forth personality in several films before, rarely has he been so over the top and imaginative as he is here in Boiling Point. Showcasing a hedonistic approach to the general yakuza character, Kitano calls forth the most petty visions of the yakuza that have ever been played on screen and multiplies them in this one character. While doing so, he generates a character that is as annoying as he is entertaining.
On the director front, this is vintage Kitano. If you know his style, and you like it, then you’ve got no worries. Kitano delivers one of my favorite scenes from any of his films here in Boiling Point. When the kids make it to Okinawa and begin their relations with the Kitano character, they eventually stop in at a karaoke bar for some rest and relaxation. I won’t go into too much detail about how everything unfolds, but a couple of young punks come in and start hassling Kitano’s character. The soundtrack to the scene is provided by one of the kids performing quite the terrible karaoke rendition of some Japanese song while the camera operates in a very operatic movement around the bar as Kitano exacts his revenge on the young punks. The camera movement, the actors, everything has a fluid movement to it that I love. The scene sticks out as one of the most memorable of the whole film.
As I mentioned, Kitano’s part in the film isn’t quite that large. This tends to be the major complaint of the film. I have seen it said in various outlets that the teens who star in the film couldn’t hold their own next to Kitano. Well, I disagree. I thought the young star did a great job and truthfully filled the role of Kitano’s usual silent leading man. Stone faced and melancholic, the young man executes the role to perfection. I also found the few scenes in which his character and his girlfriend share time together to be quite amusing and a touch of sentimentality from Kitano that would later be expounded upon with A Scene at the Sea and Kikujiro. I’ve never had a problem with watching a Kitano film without the man in a leading role, as I appreciate him as an actor I think his talent as a director is far more substantial. The two youthful leads hold the film together in my opinion. They take on the role of the audience in the face of Kitano’s madness. They’re just viewers like us.