Fantasia 2013: A Rough Guide to Parsing Miike's Hybrid Thriller SHIELD OF STRAW

As I was watching Miike Takashi's police thriller Shield of Straw during its opening night presentation at Fantasia, I started to wonder if the director of dozens of gonzo filmic insanities had finally succumbed to the temptation of making a polished, Hollywood-style blockbuster.

That's similar to the alarm bells rung by our own Brian Clark when the film debuted at Cannes. In his review, he discussed some of the "many ways in which [it] falls short of being the knockout that it could have been." Among other things, he asked, "What has happened to Miike Takashi? The man who was once able to inject even the most cliche genre stories with wackiness, visual pizzazz and spontaneity seems totally on auto-pilot here."

It's a fair point. After further consideration, though, I think it helps to examine its various Japanese and American antecedents in order to make sense of the film's deceptive mash-up of conventional big-budget action and morally ambiguous melodrama. Click through the pictures to consider some of those antecedents.

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