Whoooooaaa! Takashi Miike is such a wonderfully unique filmmaker. You never know what you’re going to get, and I love that.
In First Love, you pretty much get it all. A ‘Comedy Crime Romance’, with aspects of Horror & Spaghetti Westerns. There’s ultra gore, kick-ass action, Manga, high tension, heartfelt emotion, loads of laughs, great acting and the film looks stunning. I definitely got the sense Tarantino would love this film, and you can definitely see where he gets some of his inspiration from.
Miike has always pushed boundaries. I fell in love with him when I first watched Audition, and then that was cemented by Ichi The Killer, which almost literally knocked my socks off. Takashi churns out a lot of films, with his directorial count now up to 103 credits. I can only assume that a lot of these are directed solely at the Japanese market, as most of the releases go unnoticed in the western world. But every now and then something like First Love gets a fairly wide release, and we get to immerse ourselves in this wonderfully bizarre world he creates.
First Love is the romantic comedy you need to see this year. Boy meets girl after being diagnosed with a life-threatening tumour. Boy saves girl from the clutches of evil. Love blossoms and boy and girl live happily ever after. All this is surrounded by crazy drug lords, corrupt cops, the Yakuza, a female assassin, and a kick-ass revenge crazed women out for buckets of blood. And all this happens over one night.
There are some great performances with special mention to Masataka Kubota, who plays Leo the boxer. He has great screen presence. Also introducing Sakurako Konishi as Monica. In her first film, the drug addicted, sex worker is not an easy character to play and she does exceptionally well.
First Love is another great Takashi Miike film. I would also say it’s a great place to start if you haven’t seen a Takashi film before. You can then venture up to the more horrific Audition and Ichi The Killer.