With a title like that, you might think that I have been watching a teen love story, which, I suppose is kind of true, but look again and see who directed First Love – Takashi Miike, one of the greatest directors in the world who makes some dazzling, bewildering and horrific treats. This one is off kilter for Miike, but that does not mean it is any less enjoyable than his classic films like Audition or Gozu.
The strange thing here is that Miike seemed to look to his fans for influence. Essentially, First Love is True Romance meets Baby Driver. That’s not as slur, those are two of my fave movies ever made, it’s just backwards when you think of how many times Tarantino and Wright reference Miike in their interviews and in their excellent motion pictures.
There’s no cow heads, no feet cutting, no torn faces, this is a straight up action film from Japan’s finest and whilst I was a little disappointed to see a 15 certificate on a Miike movie, there are still some scenes here to make you grimace or cheer, depending on your mood. The story is of a boxer who pushes out a guy in the street who is chasing a girl and…well, that is the rabbit hole that I will leave you to fall down. As usual with Miike, there are many plot twists and turns that will leave you breathless and make you laugh out loud and, yes, shock you, though not as much as some of his past glories.
Perhaps I miss the originality of some of his other titles, but that does not mean that First Love is not ridiculously entertaining – it’s a Woo/Tarantino/Wright cut-and-shut, but seeing as the last two of those names stole from the East, it’s perhaps like going to Italy for a pizza and then complaining that it is not the same as the Pizza Hut one. First Love is as delicious and entertaining as Miike’s past glories and perhaps it is a sorbet to clean the palate before he kicks us in the head once again.