First Love (2019)

Young boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota) has just had some very bad news. He’s been told he has a tumour and it’s not operable. Whilst taking a walk, lost in thought, he bumps into a girl called Monica (Sakurako Kanishi), who is on the run. Together they get caught up in a shady drug deal gone awry, and must try to survive the night, all while dodging Yakuza, Triads and a dirty cop.

‘First Love’ is a mixed bag. It has flashes of the old Takashi Miike, but I felt that it was very sanitised compared to movies like ‘Ichi the Killer’, ‘Audition’ or ‘Gozu’. Chunks of the movie are slow, and I felt too much time was spent on Monica’s hallucinations, rather than the bag of drugs which was what was supposed to be moving the story forward.

For me the output of Miike of late has been hit and miss. ‘Blade of the Immortal’ was brilliant, where ‘Yakuza Apocalypse’ was a bit haphazard. At times this did feel like the old Miike, particularly in the final act, but it felt too little too late. Takashi Miike is one of the hardest working directors in Japan, but I feel his work is starting to become a case of quantity over quality. Not a film I’d rush to buy….probably rent it digitally first.

‘First Love’ is available digitally now, and will be released on Blu Ray on March 2nd 2020.

3/5

JM

Stone Cold (1991)

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Joe Huff (Brian Bosworth) is strong-armed by the FBI to infiltrate a dangerous gang of white supremacist bikers who have been drug running. Huff doesn’t want to do it, but he’s on suspension and the FBI leave him no choice. He travels down to Mississippi using the name John Stone. There he comes face to face with the gang leader called Chains Cooper (Lance Henriksen) and his second in command Ice (William Forsythe).

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Stone has to convince Chains that he’s for real before they let him join the gang. He’s told to kill a man as part of his initiation to prove his worth. He uses his agency contact to help him fake the persons death and his accepted. However Ice has his doubts about Stone and begins to spy on him. The whole thing culminates in blood and bullets.

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I must say I found this to be good fun. It’s a typical weekend evening movie, sitting back with a nice takeaway and relaxing. There is lots to love here. The script is cheesy as hell and the acting is questionable in places. However William Forsythe and Lance Henriksen are on scene stealing form as usual. I find that they are always good value for money. Sam McMurray is also great as Joe Huff/John Stone’s FBI contact Lance. Always looking out of place wherever they meet.

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I’ll hold my hands up now and also say I dug Brian Bosworth’s performance here. Honestly. He gives it a good go and he makes for a convincing action hero. He’s built like a brick shithouse and delivers a solid action performance. There are some great shoot-outs and awesome fights. The final third is brilliant. I’ve seen this a few times now. Brian Bosworth never really made good on this early promise, instead was left languishing in DTV hell. Give it a go though, it entertains, and that’s all that matters isn’t it? The poster below is the best poster I’ve seen for this movie, however I could only find the German version. Why they made it look like a Terminator poster is beyond me.

3/5

JM

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