Death—somebody’s death, at least—has a way of reminding the drug smugglers in Takashi Miike‘s First Love (2019) that they’re wicked. But, here, death usually happens too fast for the characters to be reminded of anything. Kill-or-be-killed proceeds apace. It’s better just not to be wicked.

A young boxer (Masataka Kubota) helps a drug-addicted girl forced into prostitution (Sakurato Konishi) escape her captor, this being the fulcrum for the chaotic arena of the movie’s murderers. Scripted by Masa Nakamura, the film is an ultra-violent actioner set in Tokyo. Its villains have startling vitality, and are often interesting and troubling. This describes vicious Kase and frantic Julie, whose portrayers are excellent. (Kubota and Konishi are good too.)

I love the powderkeg nature of First Love, and I don’t think Konishi’s call girl is un-addicted to drugs yet at the film’s end. The pic is a little too honest for that.

(In Japanese with English subtitles)