by Ariston Anderson.
Few directors out of Japan are as controversial as Takashi Miike, a man who has been surprising audiences for years with anything from stomach-wrenching horror films to slick yakuza films to happy-go-lucky children’s films, with no less than 70 directing credits to his name. This year at Cannes he surprised fans perhaps more than ever before by premiering his most mainstream film yet, a smart thriller that seems to be begging for a Hollywood remake.
Shield of Straw follows a team of security police who must transport a psychopathic killer across Japan to Tokyo for trial. The criminal in question has a one billion yen bounty on his head, put in place by one young victim’s grandfather. With an explosive highway car chase, a fast-moving train, and a colorful taxi-cab, the police make their way across the country, steadily losing men as they struggle to protect the killer from literally every citizen in Japan out for the bounty, including the majority of their own ranks. The big-budget stunner is a far cry from Miike’s early direct-to-video V-Cinema releases, low-budget straight-to-video films that taught him how to make the most of a gritty bare-bones production.
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