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Tokyo Ghouls: A TIFF Review of ‘First Love’

September 14, 2019Ben MK

Sword-wielding psychopaths. Smiles dripping with blood. And heroes that exist largely in the moral grey. Legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike's First Love is full of all the hallmarks of his most celebrated works. And, oh yes, heads will roll.

For his 103rd film, Miike returns viewers to a familiar place — the streets of Tokyo, where a turf war is brewing. On one side, the Japanese Yakuza; and on the other, a rival Chinese gang. Caught in the middle, however, are a down-on-his-luck boxer named Leo (Masataka Kubota), who's just been informed of the tumor growing in his brain, and Yuri (Sakurako Konishi), a young woman forced into a life of prostitution and plagued by her own personal demons. And when a bag of stolen drugs sends both gangs into a frenzy, it's kill or be killed, as a gangster named Kase (Shôta Sometani) attempts to play both sides, triggering a battle royal between the city's most vicious criminals.

Throw in a corrupt cop (Nao Ohmori), a woman with nothing left to lose out for revenge (Becky), and a few disturbingly hilarious hallucinations along the way, and the result is a new crowd-pleasing cult classic.

First Love makes its North American premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 48 min.

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