All you need to know about The World of Kanako is that it stars the great Kôji Yakusho. Best known in the United States as the oblivious father in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's globe-trotting Babel, he's done his finest work in Japanese films, especially those of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, like the supernatural noir The Cure and the deeply strange psychological thriller Doppelgänger.

In Tetsuya Nakashima's highly-stylized, blood-soaked procedural, he plays Akikazu Fujishima, a sweaty-faced detective turned security guard who lost his marriage to drink and drugs. Eight months after unknown assailants murder three people at a convenience store, his ex-wife calls to report that their daughter, Kanako, has gone missing. The cases seem unrelated until the director starts flashing back to three years in the past when Kanako became a protector for a bullied classmate. The two, as it transpires, had connections to the victims.

The deeper Akikazu digs, the more he finds that he didn't know Kanako at all: Though friends describe her as cheerful and charismatic, she associated with dealers and gangsters. Her brutal father proceeds to pummel his way through Japan in an attempt to track her down. Yakusho fully commits as an unbelievably bad lieutenant, but the nihilistic atmosphere eventually becomes so oppressive that it swallows everything in its path. recommended