First Love (aKa Hatsukoi) is a 2019 crime film directed by Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer, One Missed Call, & Sukiyaki Western Django). It was written by Masa Nakamura (Sukiyaki Western Django, Dead or Alive 2, Andromedia, & Dragon Head). It was produced by Jeremy Thomas (Crash, Blade of the Immortal, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, 13 Assassins, Naked Lunch, Sexy Beast, The Dreamers, & Eureka) & Misako Saka (Ichi the Killer. Terra Formars, Yakuza Apocalypse, & Over Your Dead Body). It premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It had a limited theatrical release in the states, it was released later on in the United Kingdom & Japan in theaters.
Leo (played by: Masataka Kubota from Tokyo Ghoul franchise, 13 Assassins, Death Note, & The Ancient Dogoo Girl) is a top prospect boxer on the rise but after losing an unexpected fight, he finds out he has a brain tumor. His career is over & this completely changes his life. He tries to save prostitute Monica (played by: Sakurako Konishi from Mio on the Shore & Fancy) who is trying to pay off her father’s debts while ranking her own problems from her pimp. Yasu (played by: Takahiro Miura from Shin Godzilla, Attack on Titan, Unforgiven, & Rage) & his girlfriend Julie (played by: Becky from Kore wa Keihi de Ochimasen, Churasan, The Eight Rangers, & Makoto) are working on a drug deal for the Yakuza. Gangster Kase (played by: Shôta Sometani from Parasyte 1/2, Himizu, Devilman, & Sadako 3D) has got corrupt cop Otomo (played by: Nao Ohmori from Ichi the Killer, 1-Ichi, Tormented, & Helter Skelter) involved into a scheme to steal & resell the drugs while framing Monica for the crime. The vicious One-Armed Wang (played by: Cheng-Kuo Yen from The Big Power, Gatao, Young Dragons franchise, & The Gangs, the Oscars, and the Walking Dead) is out for blood! All these desperate individuals cross paths in one dangerous night!!!!
First Love is the best movie that Takashi Miike has done in awhile & it reminds me of his earlier material. Have you ever imagined Quentin Tarantino doing a crazy Yakuza film? This would come close to it. It starts out as a standard gangster & crime flick but turns into something completely darker when shit hits the fan here. The script is very enjoyable, the characters are lunatics, & you can’t trust anyone in this shady world. All these different people end up running into each other & it ends up in chaos during their strange connections. It has some hilarious moments here & there so the humor does provide a nice balance to this. The entire cast had solid performances in First Love, each actor brought something different to the role. First Love is so much fun, over the top, & pure entertainment especially towards the end. The replay value is strong with this feature. It’s one of the highest quality Asian films that I’ve seen or reviewed in a long time, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Well Go USA! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer looks fantastic on blu ray. This one has plenty of interesting locations & it’s full of violent visuals. It has a few different audio options which includes Japanese: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, & English: Dolby Digital 2.0 on the release. So if you are not into subtitles, they provided a dubbed version for your viewing experience. I personally prefer the original Japanese over it but it’s a nice bonus to have. The dialogue is crystal clear, all the madness is elevated, & the music sounds great here. It also has English subtitles. It has a “Teaser” & “Trailer” for First Love. Unfortunately, there’s no other special features on the disc besides some Well Go USA related “Trailers”. It also has a slipcover & a DVD copy of the release. This one is definitely worth adding to your collection especially if you are a fans of Takashi Miike, Crime, Gangster, & violent features. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!