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Archive for October 9th, 2013

IGiveMyFirstLove

Takuma and Mayu first met when they were 8 years old at a hospital. Takuma was diagnosed with a serious heart condition which prevents him from doing any physical activity and as such if he does not get a transplant he will not live to 20 years old. Mayu hangs around the hospital as her father is Takuma’s doctor. They begin to become friends and soon even closer than that with Takuma giving Mayu her first kiss. He makes a wish when he finds a four leaf clover in a field that he will survive and they will get married before they both reach 20. As they enter their teenage years, they become a couple and support each other. Takuma though is aware that his time is short and he decides maybe it should be time that he splits from Mayu in order to spare her any more pain. Mayu though is adamant  that they should remain together.  As they are graduating from middle school it seems they will split up regardless with Takuma applying to be enrolled at Shido High School but what he doesn’t know is Mayu has been secretly studying to be enrolled there as well. Takuma’s face is a peach when the student representative to give a speech on the opening day to all the other freshmen is none other than Mayu who embarrasses him before being dragged off by some of the teachers! A freshman by the name of Kou sets his sights on capturing Mayu knowing full well that she is dating Takuma.  Although she brushes him off, he persists in his pursuit of her. Takuma challenges Kou to a 100m sprint knowing full well that ding such a challenge is dangerous to his health. The winner will get Mayu and the loser never has to look at her again. Takuma wins and Kou isn’t happy but he sticks by the rules of the challenge. As Takuma’s condition begins to deteriorate, fate is about to give him a helping hand when Kou is involved in a nasty train accident. He is pronounced brain dead at the hospital and he has filled in a donor card meaning that his heart can be given to Takuma who has no idea that it is Kou’s heart that is to be given to him. But there’s a twist to this tale again………………..

The Japanese love their romantic weepy tales. This movie sticks to the same tried and tested formula but that’s not to say this story isn’t any good because it is.  If you like your movies which have plenty of opportunities for you to cry a river then you’ll get it in spades here. I’m not one to usually watch these types of movies but with Mao Inoue as one of the leads I just had to take a look. This is one of those movies in which they tease a happy ending only for the filmmakers to snatch that happiness and demand that you bawl your eyes out at the climax. It’s a sweet love story with the usual trials and tribulations that couples usually entail though there’s a sentence of death hanging under one of the people involved. It’s obvious from the start even when they were kids how much the couple care for each other. Mayu might seem to some as being too clingy whilst others might see Takuma as not taking full advantage  of the time he has left with Mayu instead of trying to push her away. Despite the problems they encounter along the way (Takuma is distracted by a girl named Ryoko, an old classmate of his who has the same heart problem as he has), the deep bond the couple have is never fully broken.

I give my first love screenshot

The movie does veer into melodramatic territory during the 2nd half as Ryoko passes away in hospital (Ryoko’s death makes Takuma realise the value of being alive and what Mayu means to him) and Kou has his accident. When the viewer first meets Kou, he is seen as being too cocky. Whilst he is very popular at the school especially with the girls, he has his heart set on Mayu whom he calls ‘Princess’. I just didn’t like the fact that he was trying to drive a wedge between Takuma and Mayu but there’s a reason behind this. He had gone through the heartache of losing somebody close with an illness so maybe he was doing Takuma a favour by taking Mayu away from him and sparing her the pain of when he eventually dies. It is shocking though when he has his accident as he runs across a railtrack as the barriers come down and momentarily distracted by a cyclist fails to see the rushing oncoming train which hits him. Mayu and her father do their best to hide the fact from Takuma that it is Kou’s heart which is to be given to him. Takuma’s joy at being given a second opportunity at life though changes when he eventually finds out what has happened and that Kou is in a coma at the same hospital with no hope of ever waking up. Even though both were once rivals for Mayu, he refuses to take Kou’s heart. However, even the transplant opportunity is taken away from him when Kou’s parents reverses Kou’s donor card request when they think that he might have a chance of recovering when he moves his hand even though the doctor says it is only a reflex move. It’s heartbreaking to watch a sobbing Mayu beg and plead for them to change their minds once more but they refuse. Viewers might think the parents as being a bit selfish not to allow their son’s organ to help another person live but one must realise what they are going through and that they are just clinging on to a tiny bit of hope. You can’t blame them at all for that. The ending has a rather cheesy scene which made me groan but I don’t want to spoil it for everyone so I’m not going to say anything more about it. You’ll either think it’s a sweet gesture on Mayu’s part to fulfil a promise she made to Takuma or take it as a strange scene.

Overall the cast are great in their roles. Masaki Okada is good as Takuma who displays a positive attitude to life even when he knows it is going to be cut short but it’s Mao Inoue who shines the brightest in this movie as Mayu, a selfless, headstrong and playful character who is willing to do anything she can to make sure her boyfriend life is extended. They share some good chemistry together.

Have a box of tissues on standby when you’re watching this movie, it does get very sad as we near the climax. It might remind some viewers of their own first love experience. There are one or two humorous moments to lighten up the mood but overall it’s a movie that tugs at your heartstrings.

Unfortunately this is a muted trailer as the audio has been blocked not just in this video but on several other trailers for the movie as well. Sorry.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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a-taste-of-killing-and-romance-1994-1

Judge is the most charismatic assassin in Hong Kong and also the best. During one afternoon whilst driving around in his new Audi car (a gift from his employer for completing his latest hit), he gives a lift to a beautiful woman Yu-Fen who pulls a gun on him. She has just done a hit of her own and thanks to Judge she manages to escape successfully. Judge begins to like this woman but she is unaware that the man she carjacked is a legendary assassin. Both of the assassins are employed by the same person, a woman nicknamed Ice. The two fall in love with each other which does not go down well with Ice who is slightly jealous. Despite this, they continue to work and complete more missions until Ice gives a job to Yu-Fen to kill Judge for not doing a hit properly. Ice’s vicious henchman Shooter turns against his boss and kills her at a gym before turning his attention to Judge and Yu-Fei. Will the two assassins survive the onslaught against them as Shooter targets the pair who are on a luxury boat trip? In addition, a HK police detective is also on their tail and determined to bring them to justice.

Whilst this story is just your standard run of the mill actioner, it is still a very entertaining movie between a pair of doomed lovers which moves at a fair pace and only slows down in the middle during an awful montage sequence which sees the assassin couple mucking about together on the streets of Hong Kong holding hands all to a song which is sung by Andy Lau. With a tag line of “even killers need love”, this should give you enough information what kind of movie this is with a love triangle going on as the couple’s boss Ice becomes jealous of Judge and Yu-Fen’s relationship.

A taste of killing and romance screenshot

The story is hardly original with so many clichés and you sort of know before the end what’s going to happen. I’m happy to say though that the action takes more precedence over the romance aspect. The gun battle sequences are choreographed well enough and prove to be exciting. The shootout on the beach near the climax is a particular highlight. The stylish direction by Veronica Chan keeps things ticking over very nicely. The story gets even better during the second half of the movie when Ice’s henchman Shooter takes matters into his own hands and decides to eliminate the assassin couple. Shooter played by Mark Cheng is probably one of the most vicious bastards I’ve ever seen in an Asian action movie. Not content with killing an old woman by suffocating her in plastic wrap, he even kills an innocent cute little girl by shoving bleach down her throat and putting her dog into the washing dryer. It’s enough to make the viewer really hate his guts and hope he gets his comeuppance.

I wasn’t convinced by the relationship between Judge and Yu-Fen and I felt the chemistry between them just wasn’t there. Anita Yuen looks very nice in her designer garb when the viewer is first introduced to her during a hit job she does and Andy Lau is at his charming best here. This is probably not the best work that either of them has done.

If you’re in the mood for a movie which delivers on the action front but comes with a cheesy romantic sub-plot, this should fill your boots. It’s an adequate but not an essential movie to watch.

No trailer but here’s a clip from the movie

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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