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Boiling Point Review

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A middle-class loser falls in with the yakuza.

★★★★★

Made between "Beat" Takeshi's remarkable 1989 debut Violent Cop and the assured 1993 work Sonatine, this 1990 film isn't quite an achievement on a level with that pair, both of which rank among the best films released in the UK in the last year. Though obviously the work of a director of real quality and shot through with remarkable moments, Boiling Point doesn't cohere as well as the other movies, and suffers because the director-star chooses to take a small role and focuses instead on less fascinating personalities.

Masaki (Ono) is a miserable failure, the worst player on an amateur baseball team with an amazingly bad record, and a slack employee at a garage whose ineptitude irks a passing yakuza gangster. As a minor resentment builds up, Masaki is egged on by an ex-crook friend (Iguchi) to get involved in a criminal feud and take a trip to Okinawa to buy guns. On the island, Masaki falls in with Uehara (Takeshi), an irrational mobster who is even more out of control than the similar character of Sonatine, sexually abusing both his male and female subordinates, and whimsically stranding associates in the middle of nowhere. Masaki, appalled by the violence and danger of Uehara's world, still feels he has to go through with the feud he has started.

Like Sonatine, Boiling Point sounds like an action-packed gangster movie, but is more reflective, even humorous. The overdone tough guy dialogue and the wry cynicism is irresistible, but this still finds a master stealing home between two out-of-the-park home runs.

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