26 August 2020 | Coventry
Forget out Witness Protection Programs... Swear by good old-fashioned blood vengeance!
Bob Clark is (or better, was, since he died with his son in a tragic car accident a handful of years ago) a multi-talented director, with on his repertoire several cult-classics in various & versatile genres, like comedy with the "Porky's"-franchise, seasonal family entertainment with "A Christmas Carol", mystery with "Murder by Decree" but most notably horror with the sublime "Black Christmas", "Dead of Night" and "Children Shouldn't Play with Death Things". In the mid-70s, he also took a swing at the contemporary very popular (thanks to the success of "Death Wish") revenge/vigilante exploitation sub-genre with the terrific "Breaking Point". It's perhaps one of Clark's least known and praised efforts, but definitely a marvelous addition to the world of 70s exploitation cinema!
"Breaking Point" arguably suffers somewhat from a slow and hesitant start, since there isn't a whole lot happening in the, say, first half hour, but the rest of the film is an unhinged 'edge-of-your-seat' thrill-ride. Philadelphia family man and judo-school owner Michael McBain witnesses a brutal mafia execution, in a dark alley near his house, and is able to identify the assailants. McBain's testimony could put the corrupt and murderous construction tycoon Vincent Carbone in jail, but doing the right thing also means putting himself and his family in grave danger. When the trial doesn't turn out as favorable as expected, Carbone wants to make an example out of McBain and wipe out his family and friends. The family must even partake into the Witness Protection Program and relocate to Toronto, but eventually Michael reaches his titular breaking point and returns to Philly to confront Carbone and his sadistic henchmen himself.
The simplicity and straightforward action/suspense is what makes "Breaking Point" so great. Bo Svenson gives a terrifically realistic and identifiable performance as the good-hearted McBain, while the villains (notably Carbone and his curly-headed goon Carlito) are ultimately evil and loathsome. There isn't an overload of violence, but the violence that is featuring is stone-cold, grim and very graphical. The scenes inside the train depot, for instance, are stupendous! Bob Clark also clearly demonstrates his talents during these scenes, with several camera and editing effects to help increase the tension even further. Almost evidently, there are also a number of flaws and improbabilities in the script. Notably the real father's behavior is highly implausible and irritating, and McBain walks in and out Carbone's private estates surprisingly simple. But hey, you will gladly overlook the shortcomings (I did, at least) for the sake of entertainment.