Leo is a young boxer, successful but unable to show emotion. He has a fight scheduled and is sure that he will win. Instead, his opponent knocks him out. This triggers a chain of unpleasant events involving drugs, corrupt cops, the Yakuza, a female assassin - and Monica, an escort that he must rescue. It's one hell of a night for Leo.Written by
The film premiered at TIFF in Toronto, Canada in September 2019. See more »
Expected a Little More
Takashi Miike's filmography is one of the most impressive out there; he's directed over 100 films, with many of them being cult classics like 'Audition' and 'Ichi the Killer.' He's a filmmaker that's constantly pushing boundaries, exploring new horizons and delivering memorable spectacles that you want to see again and again.
So why does 'First Love,' a film about a boxer and a call girl in the crosshairs of a violent war between Yakuza members and various killers searching for a bag of drugs, feel so average?
Masa Nakamura, a previous Miike collaborator, wrote the admittedly very detailed screenplay for the film and manages to introduce multiple characters and subplots that believably converge into one climactic showdown, yet there are certain characters that are built up to be forces not to reckon with and end up not contributing much to the film, or living up to their "legend." The central relationship between the main characters, Leo and Monica (which turns out to be a moniker), feels underdeveloped and turns out to be not as important as one would expect. Even a reoccurring character she hallucinates from the film doesn't provide much development for her character and ends up being a red herring of sorts. I previously read rave reviews for the film and many critics called the film "hilarious," but there's really only one character who provides some chuckle-worthy lines; everything else feels serious and dark, especially the outlandish shootout in the climax, which could have gone absolutely balls-to-the-wall in its execution, but plays it rather safe.
Visually, the movie looks great. The actors all perform extremely well and I was definitely invested enough to wonder what would happen to each character as the film went along. It's not a bad movie by any means, but from a director who's made some insane movies, I had expected around the same level for this one. It is still worth a watch, but go in expecting "chilled out" Miike.
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