Yakuza work in mainland China


Don't wave samurai swords like the old yakuza, but pull the trigger: the Chinese gangsters think efficiently, globally and goal-oriented. Photo from Takashi Miike's “First Love” / Eurovideo

Intricate pulp fiction style yakuza thriller by Takashi Miike in a video stream


In the thriller “First Love”, Japan's master director Takashi Miike intones the swan song for a declining species and his old favorite subject: the yakuza. The formerly feared Japanese gangster gangs with their very own moral code have survived in today's globalized world, only tear each other apart and step by step backwards from the new Chinese triads from the mainland.

Promotional video (Eurovideo):

Boxing expects brain cancer death - and knows no more fear

Against this background, Miike tells the love story between the young boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) and the forced prostitute Monica (Sakurako Konishi). He expects to die in a few days from brain cancer. That is why he intervenes without hesitation when he sees Monica being chased by a corrupt police officer - and gets caught up in a web of intrigues, gang wars and a relentless thirst for revenge.

Boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) saves the forced prostitute Monica (Sakurako Konishi), who was intended as a mere pawn in a large chess game, as if by chance. Photo from Takashi Miike's “First Love” / Eurovideo

Greetings from Tarantino and Ritchie

Miike stages this in the style of Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and Guy Ritchie's "Bube, Dame, König, Gras", like a Japanese spaghetti gangster western (although these "Westerners" were known to have been inspired by the Japanese) : An unsuccessful move by an overly greedy young yakuza triggers a fateful chain of events that ends in a bloody massacre “everyone against everyone”.

Conclusion: brutal, surreal, crisp

(Commercial :) “First Love” * is fast-paced, tough, but sometimes also surreal and brutal, accompanied by great music and lots of humor. Conceptually, this is nothing new. But Miike and his ensemble skilfully stage this story, lively and full of cultural metaphors.The imagery can also be found in the great final monster fight: The tradition-conscious old yakuza boss actually pulls a samurai sword to target the last triad gangster hacking until both sink exhausted to the ground - a symbol of the consuming struggle of old against young.


Brief overview:

  • Title: "First Love"
  • Original title: "Hatsukoi"
  • Genre: Yakuza thriller and love drama
  • Director: Takashi Miike
  • Cast: Masataka Kubota, Sakurako Konishi, Takahiro Miura, Jun Murakami, Nao Ohmori
  • Age rating: FSK 18
  • Running time: 108 minutes
  • Country and year of production: Japan 2019
  • German publication: Eurovideo in May 2020
  • Languages: Japanese, German
  • Price: DVD 13 euros, Bluray 15 euros. Video stream: five euros (borrow) or twelve euros (buy)

Author of the review: Heiko Weckbrodt

* Note: Links marked in blue as “Advertising” lead to the Amazon sales portal. If you buy the film there, Amazon can pay us a commission

Keyword: China, home theater, Japan, review, review, streaming, thriller, triad, video, yakuza