review by Bobby Blakey
Director Takashi Miike has been delivering some great and often times bloody flicks to the masses since the early 90s including Audition, Ichi The Killer, Blade of the Immortal and so many more. Now Well Go USA is bringing his latest, First Love to the US market for fans to dive into, but does it live up to the legacy of this iconic filmmaker or will it fail to have a connection?
First Love follows a duplicitous scheme by the low-level yakuza, Kase that goes hilariously wrong, a terminally ill boxer, Leo, and a disturbed drug addicted call girl, Monica, find themselves innocently caught in the crosshairs of two warring gangs. Over the course of the increasingly ludicrous night, the two fall passionately in love, while the hail of bullets and blood fall quietly in the background. From prolific auteur Takashi Miike, this noir-tinged, violent yakuza film, is Miike at his most fun and anarchic.
I knew nothing about this film going in other than the synopsis and Miike’s involvement. While the film ended up being pretty good, I did struggle a bit to really get initially invested due to the pacing. The set up takes a bit to get to anything, but once they get to the meat of it all it gets violently fun. There is so much going on in this film that it is hard to keep up with the cast of character at times just because it’s so chaotic. The story of Leo and Monica is the focal point, but is often times lost in the sometimes silliness of some of the supporting characters. The film plays up as a dark comedic drama of sorts that works but struggles to be its own thing. There are so many familiar tropes here it’s hard to see what Miike was really trying to accomplish until the very end.
The last half of the film is where things get really fun as all the cast of characters start to collide in a blaze of bullets, blood flowing and sword play that makes everything that might not have worked worth it. The finale to the film itself is worth the whole film as we are gifted numerous face offs that all end in varying body parts flying and blood spewing like only Miike can. I did enjoy the film as a whole but was surprised to see so many familiar story tones from a Miike film, but make no mistake his vision is still all over it.
Grab your copy of First Love available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA.