Combustible Celluloid
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With: Masataka Kubota, Nao Ōmori, Shōta Sometani, Sakurako Konishi, Becky, Jun Murakami, Sansei Shiomi, Seiyō Uchino
Written by: Masa Nakamura
Directed by: Takashi Miike
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 108
Date: 10/11/2019

First Love (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Boxer Thwarts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is prolific, and fast. He is said to have directed more than 100 films, videos, shorts, TV shows, and various other things since his debut in the early 1990s. By the time you see his latest, he probably has two or three others on the horizon. I've only managed to see about ten titles in his entire output, but I have to say that First Love is one of my favorites, worthy of his classics Dead or Alive, Audition, and Ichi the Killer. It features an insane pulp fiction-type plot, with many characters and situations, but it's all so kinetic and explosive that it's fun to just buckle up and go along for the ride. (The distributor, Well Go USA, describes it as Action, Drama, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Adventure, and Fantasy, and damned if there isn't an animated sequence as well.) The main character is perhaps Leo (Masataka Kubota) a stoic boxer whose calm nonchalance in the ring irritates his trainer (who wants him to get more excited after a victory). After an easy and unexpected defeat, Leo goes to the doctor and discovers that he has a tumor in his head, and only weeks to live. While out walking, he spots Monica (Sakurako Konishi), a call girl and drug addict, being chased by a man. He clotheslines the man, discovers that he's a cop, and takes his badge. Thus begins a long night, involving a shipment of drugs, a dangerous yakuza, an angry female contract killer, and a stool pigeon, as well as the cop, who may or may not be crooked. First Love is crazy fun, and a sure antidote to all those serious movies that are soon going to be filling up movie houses.

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