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193 Ratings

First Love


Directed by Takashi Miike
Japan, United Kingdom, 2019


One night in Tokyo and Leo, a young boxer down on his luck, meets his ‘first love’ Monica, a call girl and an addict but still innocent. Caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme, the two find themselves pursued by a corrupt cop, a yakuza, his nemesis and a female assassin hired by the Chinese Triads.

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First Love Directed by Takashi Miike
It all hangs together, and Miike brings his own mad, punk-rock energy to the whole thing, breaking out a bizarre animated sequence near the climax, just for the pure hell of it, and incidentally giving us an uproarious image of dozens of cop cars chasing a fugitive gangster driving across a bridge.
February 13, 2020
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This makes the film a rather abstract experience, and one with surprisingly little emotional heft. Many viewers will take it less as a drama than as an assembly of typically bravura Miike set pieces. . . . Maybe, as Miike laments, Japanese companies are no longer open to the kind of taboo-breakers that he used to specialise in. Or maybe he just started to grow old; he’ll turn 60 this year. Either way, First Love suggests that the great days are over.
February 12, 2020
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The movie doesn’t breathe new life into the genre conventions of Masa Nakamura’s script. But Miike choreographs and executes the proceedings with such deftness and enthusiasm that the movie feels like a standard revisited by a particularly inventive jazz pianist: the changes are familiar, but the variations set them in an exciting new environment.
September 26, 2019
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