A team of cops must protect an accused killer with a billion-yen bounty on his head.

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Shield of Straw follows a team of five police officers charged with protecting an accused killer marked for death by the billionaire grandfather of his latest victim.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Takao Ohsawa ...
Kazuki Mekari
...
Atsuko Shiraiwa
Gorô Kishitani ...
Takeshi Okumura
Masatô Ibu ...
Kenji Sekiya
Kento Nagayama ...
Masaki Kamihashi
Hirotarô Honda ...
Ohki
Kazuya Takahashi
Gô Ibuki
Takuma Otoo
Kenji Nagae
Wataru Shihôdô
Kazuyoshi Ozawa
Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi
Yasukaze Motomiya
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Storyline

After killing a 7-year-old girl, psychopath Kunihide Kyomaru turns himself in to the police. Since his victim was the daughter of one of the country's richest men, terminally ill billionaire Ninagawa, who buys ads in all the major papers offering a hefty reward for anyone who kills Kunihide. There are a few caveats, including a clause that the execution must be authorized by the government, but the consequences are clear: It's open season on Kunihide, who has nothing but five dedicated cops to protect him, led by security police lieutenant Kazuki Mekari. Written by anonymous

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Thriller

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Release Date:

26 April 2013 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Shield of Straw  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Remade as Shield of Straw See more »

Soundtracks

North of Eden
performed by Kyosuke Himuro
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User Reviews

 
Philosophical drama dialogues meet a brutal action-thriller ride
24 July 2014 | by (Gatineau, Canada) – See all my reviews

"Wara no Tate" or "Shield of Straw" is a Japanese action-thriller and drama based on a novel by Kiuchi Kazuhiro. This movie convinces with a balanced mixture of brutal and gripping action sequences on one side and philosophical discussions on the other. It tells the intriguing tale of a disgusting psychopath who needs an ambitious police escort to get transported from a rural town to the capital Tokyo where he should be sentenced by a public prosecutor. The grand-father of the psychopath's latest victim, who is terminally ill with a heart disease, wants the man to get killed at all costs. He bribes editors and reporters to announce that the billionaire is willing to offer one billion yen to anyone who would kill the psychopath and then turn her- or himself in to the police and prosecutor to get judged for her or his actions. The vengeful billionaire goes even further and bribes criminals, nurses and even police officers to get the psychopath killed. Five courageous police officers get the dangerous job to get the psychopath to Tokyo via transporters, trains and even cars as they have to face one hundred twenty-five Million potential opponents. Soon, their conscience come into play. Is it worth to risk your lives to save a monster that is probably going to get sentenced to death anyway? Are their accuracy, honour and sense of responsibility strong enough to bring their job to an end? And is there even a traitor within the small group who wants to get the Money and help the billionaire to get his worst enemy killed? "Wara no Tate" is not only an entertaining but also thought-provoking piece of art that works very well despite a few minor lengths during a running time of over two hours. The question the viewer is constantly asking her- or himself is: Would I hand the psychopath over to the prosecutor or would I kill him, get the hefty reward and go to jail? This movie is clearly above average not only due to its balanced mixture of profound dramatic elements and vivid action sequences but also due to many excellent actors. From the honest police officers and the scary psychopath over the sick and grieving old man and many potential headhunters, every single actress and actor does an excellent job no matter if his or her screening time is about two hours or just two minutes. The different characters are profound, diversified and credible and many of them develop in an interesting way throughout the movie. The greatest actresses and actors are the intelligent female cop and single mother portrayed by Matsushima Nanako, the desperate and lonely police officer with a strong will portrayed by Ohsawa Takao and especially the wicked psychopath portrayed by Fujiwara Tatsuya. The psychopath gets more and more evil as the movie progresses and especially the last sequences show us the abyss of the human soul. On my list of the most evil characters in cinema, I would place him third just behind the sinister serial killer Kyung-chul portrayed by Choi Min-sik in the Korean psycho-thriller "I Saw The Devil" and the evil spirit Bob portrayed by Frank Silva in the "Twin Peaks" series and movie.

Apart of the balanced storyline and the acting performances, Japanese cult director Miike Takashi did one of his most memorable works in recent years. The images, setting and special effects are well employed and feel real and spontaneous yet wisely arranged and chosen. There are neither shaky camera passages as in many Hollywood movies nor an overload of predictable and stereotypical visual effects. Miike proves once again that he is one of the best current directors and he took advantage of a decent budget and excellent cinematographers involved in this project.

The only reasons why somebody could not like this movie is because of its mixture of philosophical dialogues and grisly action sequences. Action fans might get bored by the dialogues while fans of more sophisticated dramas might find the movie too repugnant for its violent content. Any open-minded cinephile with a soft spot for Japanese extremes should though watch this high-quality movie that gets easily in my top twenty of the best movies of the year. It's a shame that there were only three people in the cinema when I watched this film as this movie is definitely better than many of the exchangeable Hollywood sequels where you exactly know what to expect.


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