My favourite director Takashi Miike is back with another movie: First Love (2019)
First Love goes back to Takashi Miike's brutal V-Cinema Yakuza movies between the mid-nineties and the early years of the new millennium. It tells the story of a lonesome boxer who has just learned that he has an incurable brain tumor who meets a drug-addicted prostitute who suffers from hallucinations of her violent father. Over the course of one single night, the two desperate youngsters get caught up in a violent conflict between Chinese and Japanese organized crime clans as well as local police force. The prostitute is suspected of having killed a gang member and stolen a handbag full of drugs. The boxer knocks out a crooked police officer who planned on framing her and is now on the run as well. The relationship between the prostitute and the boxer slowly intensifies but their biggest challenge remains to survive the eventful night.
This movie is a feast for Takashi Miike fans. The characters are diversified, eccentric and unique enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen. The flashy locations are gorgeous to watch. The action scenes are intense and especially the lengthy fight sequences in a warehouse mix gore elements with black slapstick humour in a typically Japanese way. The movie is also filled with tension and this thriller comes around with a few interesting twists and turns. The film also has some strong dramatic elements as it follows two lonesome outsiders who have suffered throughout their lives and are simply looking for peace of mind. The movie's pace is overall frantic and entertaining. The idea to let the film take place over the course of only a few days with the most important events unfolding in one single night, makes First Love a quite dynamic, focused and intense experience.
The film still has a few minor flaws however. The opening quarter is a little bit dragging and slightly overstays its welcome. The story is somewhat predictable if you're familiar with other Yakuza movies. The relationship between the two protagonists never really takes off as they don't have much chemistry. The title First Love is slightly misguiding in that regard and something like Crazy Night would have been more appropriate.
Still, First Love is an entertaining Yakuza movie that goes back to the genre's golden era in the mid-nineties. It features action, drama and thriller elements and is explicitly brutal, darkly humorous and gloomily nihilistic. Mainstream audiences might have trouble digesting this exciting potpourri but genre fans will get exactly what they like.
Bonus: My favourite Takashi Miike movies
1. Blade of the Immortal (2017)
2. Gozu (2003)
3. Audition (1999)
4. Ichi the Killer (2001)
5. Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)
6. Yakuza Apocalypse (2015)
7. As the Gods Will (2014)
8. Dead or Alive (1999)
9. Terra Formars (2016)
10. Rainy Dog (1997)
11. Family (2001)
12. Ley Lines (1999)
13. 13 Assassins (2010)
14. Shield of Straw (2013)
15. First Love (2019)
16. Dead or Alive: Final (2002)
17. Blues Harp (1998)
18. Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000)
19. Ace Attorney (2012)
20. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
21. Full Metal Yakuza (1997)« Hatsukoi / First Love (2019) - Crazy Night - 7/10 (27/02/20)Fei Lung Gwoh Gong / Enter the Fat Dragon (2020) - Nostalgic but quirky return to Hong Kong action-comedy cinema of the late eighties and early nineties - 8/10 (27/02/20) »