To Celebrate the Release of Takashi Miike’s ‘First Love’, Here are Takashi Miike’s Top 5 Yakuza Films

Super-entertaining Takashi Miike crime thriller First Love is a Tarantino-beating bonanza that opens with a decapitated head rolling into the frame and doesn’t let up for 108 minutes. The Yakuza genre is one Miike delved into early on in his career with great success, and now he’s jumped back into the world of Tokyo gangsters in his latest ultra-violent flick. 

In First Love, we follow Leo and Monica, who fall passionately in love while getting innocently caught up in a drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one raucous night of unadulterated mayhem in Tokyo. A boxer with a brain tumour, a crooked cop with terrible luck, an amputee Chinese gangster and a terrified call girl – who’s stalked by a ghost – come together in action-packed chaos. 

And to celebrate the release of his critically acclaimed new movie, we asked the legendary director for 5 of his top Japanese gangster movies. Here are his tips to get started in the brutal genre… 

Yakuza to Koso: Jitsuroku Ando-gumi (Junya Sato, 1972) This is a real yakuza movie by a real yakuza. It is an awesome, dangerous and impossibly miraculous movie. In the sense of the miraculous, it surpasses Star Wars.

Photo © Yakuza to Koso: Jitsuroku Ando-gumi & Graveyard of Honor

Graveyard of Honor (Kinji Fukasaku, 1975) This is a twisted masterpiece that depicted human nature through yakuza. I remade this movie with lots of respect. 

Yamaguchi-gumi San-daime (Kosaku Yamashita, 1973) The original story was written by Kazuo Taoka, who was the big boss of Yamaguchi-gumi in the third generation. This movie proved that Japanese people used to have real freedom. 

Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973) The true stories that this film was based on overtook the reality of the yakuza and portrayed the near future. And now the reality has reached the same situation as the movie. I was amazed by the filmmaker’s courage, his ability to look into the future and the fact that he turned it into a movie, but he was not killed, as he had political power.

Photo © Yamaguchi-gumi San-daime & Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima

Cops vs. Thugs (Kinji Fukasaku, 1975) This is a movie like a microcosm of Japan after the war. It made the first step on the path lead to compliance with slavery. I am overwhelmed by the energy and reality of the characters. 


First Love is in Cinemas and on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital now.  

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