SHIELD OF STRAW (PG13)
This efficient and well-crafted action thriller has moments that surprise and a nicely twisty plot. A seven-year-old girl is murdered and the prime suspect is paedophile Kiyomaru (Tatsuya Fujiwara). The victim's grandfather, industrialist Ninagawa (Tsutomu Yamazaki), offers 1 billion yen (S$12.7 million) to anyone who kills him. Kiyomaru, left without allies, turns himself in to the Fukuoka police.
An elite team of five seemingly incorruptible cops, including Shiraiwa (Nanako Matsushima, above) and Mekari (Takao Osawa), is sent to protect him as the accused travels the 1,200km to custody in Tokyo.
The 53-year-old director Takashi Miike is best known for works marked by intense cruelty and body horror (Audition, 1999; Ichi The Killer, 2001), but his talent runs to a much wider palette than arthouse examinations of the dark side of the human mind.
In this thriller, nominated for the top prize of the Palme D'or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Miike works with a script adapted from a novel.
He proved with the samurai drama 13 Assassins (2010) that he could do big, conventional action scenes.
That skill is put to the test here every few minutes when ordinary citizens take a run at the accused Kiyomaru with every tool imaginable.
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