Official selection of the 2007 Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival.
On the North Korean border, Chinese military police enforce the law with a heavy hand, leading to moments of harrowing abuse and surreal satire. Amidst the barren wintry landscape of Northeast China, Chinese military police officers rigidly enforce law and order in an impoverished mountain town. They raid a private residence to bust an illegal mahjong game, casually abuse a pickpocket accused of throwing away evidence and berate a confession out of a scrap collector working without a permit. The police switch between precise investigative procedure, explosions of violent fury and moments of comic ineptitude, all captured incredibly before the camera. A prime example of how independent documentaries are on the vanguard of Chinese cinema, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT is an unprecedented look at the everyday workings of law enforcement in the world’s largest authoritarian society. With penetrating camerawork, Zhao Liang (PETITION, 2009 Cannes Film Festival) patiently reveals the methods police use to interrogate and coerce suspects to confess crimes and the consequences when such techniques backfire.
Reviews(see the best reviews)
I'm not usually all that impatient with slow movies but the first huge chunk of this one was a bit trying for me. Stuff like a shot of a guy being told to wait ... waiting for as long as he waits ... and it's kind of a long time in movie-time.
& I don't think there's anything you might not see in a US jailhouse/on a US 'beat' for about the first half of the movie - although you might not see this kind of thing on reality TV or in documentaries without a hidden camera. (IE violence in interrogation.)
After awhile I began skipping ahead a bit.
in the 2nd half, the human/dramatic interest ratchets up considerably as scenes less predictable/basically static come to the fore with a twists turns and unexpected departures from the 'script' as you might say, including some lovely singing! And in this part of the movie there are some wonderful some instances in which you become grateful for the director's reliance on long takes.
So I kind of ended up loving the movie after all. If you are tempted to turn it off just skip ahead!
A great documentary that fairly portrayed each characters arc throughout the story.
unreal. how zhao got access to such footage is beyond me.
Having lived for many years in China I could not believe the footage of unedited access this film contains. This is the "real" China and is so raw it is completely compelling to watch. I felt a big disappointment though that there was no follow-up with the citizens in the film, and that it is purely from a policeman's point of view. A BIG WARNING TO VIEWERS: at the end of the film is a very graphic and disturbing scene of a dog being killed horribly.