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Crime or Punishment?!?

(Tsumi Toka Batsu Toka)

North american Premiere

  • Japan 2008
  • 110 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

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Director: Keralino Sandorovich
Screenplay: Keralino Sandorovich
Cast: Riko Narumi, Kento Nagayama, Yasunori Danta, Inuko Inuyama, Sakura Ando
Producers: Lee Joo-hoon, Mato Obata, Hiroyuki Kitamaki, Chikako Nakabayashi
Distributor: Open Sesame Co., Ltd.


Ayame, a second-rate model unnoticed by industry professionals, lives in the shadow of her modelling agency's star, Momo. One day, Ayame finds her photograph printed upside down in a magazine, with a horrible stain over her face. In a panic, she steals the magazine, but is immediately arrested. To dodge a sentence, she agrees to play constable-for-a-day as part of the police department's public-relations campaign. Once at her new job, Ayame rekindles her relationship with Haruki, an old boyfriend and handsome inspector (who murders women in his free time). She still has feelings for him even though he’d tried to kill her years earlier while they were dating. Confused by their encounter, the shy and soft-spoken Ayame realizes during her action-filled day as a cop that she in fact does have the powers and, most importantly, the responsibilities that come with the job.

A pleasant and paradoxically orderly chaos reigns in CRIME OR PUNISHMENT?!?, which opens with the death of a murder witness, crushed by an oncoming truck. Meanwhile, three thieves—including one who gets his jollies with a taser gun—plan their next hold-up. All this has seemingly little to do with the main plot. The magic of the filmmaking of director and screenwriter Keralino Sandorovich (real name Kazumi Kobayashi), however, lies in the convergence of subplots and the use of every detail to get a laugh, even those that at first go unnoticed. Can we remain indifferent to crime? While Dostoyevsky treated this question solemnly, Sandorovich's take is instead rather cynical. His humour is both minimalist and madly creative, in typical Japanese fashion. It’s no surprise that Sandorovich, also a respected playwright in Japan, uses theatrical elements at a dizzying pace here. The result is as bizarre as it is enjoyable. Riko Narumi, who previously appeared in THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, is simply charming as Ayame. Her performance contrasts with that of the conceited, despicable Momo, gleefully portrayed by Sakura Ando, who also worked in this year's LOVE EXPOSURE. CRIME OR PUNISHMENT?!? offers the perfect mix of absurdity and coolness to beat the summer heat.

—Serina Nishioka (translated by Jasmine Pisapia)

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