Sunday, October 27, 2019

First Love / 初恋 - Movie Review

The Movie: First Love / 初恋

The Director: Takashi Miike

The Cast: Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shôta Sometani, Sakurako Konishi, Becky, Jun Murakami

The Story: A young boxer and a call girl get caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one night in Tokyo.

The Review:
Takashi Miike is not your ordinary director. The reality he creates within his films is always a little, okay a lot, left of center and you never quite know what to expect. Every time you think one thing is going to happen, he takes a complete left turn and almost always in the most fun and satisfying ways. This movie I suppose is best described as an action crime thriller wrapped around a romantic comedy although it's probably several other things as well.

The romance comes from the two main characters Leo, an up and coming boxer, and Monica, a young woman sold into prostitution by her father to pay off a debt to members of the yakuza. From the moment they accidentally meet, it's obvious they were meant to be together and they are immediately off and running on a True Romance style journey through the streets of Tokyo. The action and the crime come from the rest of the cast who are all either members of the yakuza or in league with them in some fashion.

Of course, there are plans, double crosses, and drug deals that all go horribly wrong in just about every way that they could which is where most of the comedy comes from. My favorite character in the movie by far is Julie, a drug dealer's girlfriend played by singer turned actress Becky, a woman who keeps getting left for dead and ends up wreaking havoc in a display of deranged violence that has you hoping she will end up outlasting everyone as the story rampages towards its frenetic conclusion.

Of course a Takashi Miike movie wouldn't be complete without some excessively executed violence utilizing all manner of weapons imaginable. The action sequences are very well thought out with just as much comedy embedded into them as the rest of the movie. We get to see fists, guns, swords, bats, boots, hammers, cars, fire, gloves, and just about anything you can think of thrown in to the mix and the entire final act is one big battle royal that plays out in some very unexpected ways, just like the rest of the movie.

First Love is one of Takashi Miike's best movies. It's everything I wanted it to be and more. Much more. If Hollywood had the guts to make and market movies as bold and original as this, they wouldn't know what to do with all the money they'd be making. I'd be there for all of it.

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