Blu-Ray Review – First Love

First Love is the latest Takashi Miike film, and he has done well: over 100 productions around film, direct to video and TV since 1991, which is insanely prolific. Western audiences tend to get every third film of his or so, but this is indeed his most recent film. The ones that come out in the US/UK tend to be the more overt genre exercises/more commercial films. First Love is kind of a spin on True Romance, which was written by his friend and uber-fanboy, Quentin Tarantino

It’s set in the course of one night in Tokyo, as a boxer with a brain tumour (!!) and a call girl get caught up in complete madness involving the Yakuza, Chinese gangsters (including a dismembered one) and some grade-A heroin. It’s a totally wild ride, but it does take a good 40 minutes to really get going. There are also probably far too many characters who need to be introduced, given that it is Miike’s romcom. However, when it does that textbook Miike cinematic insanity, the carnage that happens in and to a shopping centre is pretty inspired. There is even an animated sequence, because why the hell not? followed by a chase sequence involving blowing up bag after bag of cocaine to make snowfall. 

First Love is no masterpiece, and it’s undeniably the kind of film Miike can probably write and direct in the same dream and still have time in that dream to come up with the script for what the next film will be. It’s still a complete blast, and as good of an entry point for Miike as you can probably get, to be fair, because it has a bit of every that makes him tick. There is a quite sweet love story in there as well, but it is called First Love, after all—although he joked in a Q&A that he named it that “to make money.”

The disc from Signature Entertainment is completely barebones. 

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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