Takashi Miike (director)
14 February 2020 (released)
11 February 2020
What you come to expect from Takashi Miike is what you get in First Love and then some. With writers Masaru Nakamura and Masataka Kubota, Miike has delivered an ultra-cool, super-violent thriller that pits two vicious crime gangs against each other.
Whether they are having a great big joke with the Chinese is certainly up for discussion but that would get in the way of a review of a film that has a complex plot, and does withstand scrutiny, but is ultimately dispensable because it’s the visuals and the sublime music of Koji Endo that drive this film.
The plot for those that are interested is, that set over one night, Leo (Masataka Kubota) a boxer who isn’t up to it, meets Monica (Sakurako Konishi), a call girl (with no experience) with a drug addiction. Monica is however caught up in a convoluted scheme that pulls in both the Yakuza and the Chinese Triads.
And that pretty much is that as Leo and Monica are chased through the streets of Tokyo all night having to fend off all manner gangsters, corrupt cops and assassins. It’s a treat of a film with a stylish look, lots of smart suits and dresses, sunglasses and killing hardware deployed to achieve the maximum number of death strokes.
It is a male orientated set up but they don’t get their own way with Miike having some strong female characters that dish-out and take the violence. The film flows with a dynamic energy, with each scene charging up the next. It barely stops with some fantastic set pieces including a long closing sequence that is as brutal as it is beautiful.
Having said that within all the mayhem there is some actual acting, if not much in the way of characterisation. The two leads are fine, in fact be it by design or not, and while they have their quirks, they are only stable parts as the rival gangs fight it out it out the members indulge in demented displays of shouting, grimacing, and posturing for all they are worth.
There is some element of comedy too but more along the lines of ‘what was that’ with wide-eyed incredulity, than belly laughs.