By Brett Mullins
Original Title: Hei tai yang 731
Directed by Tun Fei Mou
Men Behind the Sun is a graphic account depicting the atrocities committed by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army. This unit experimented with biological agents with the hope of contributing to turning the tide of WWII against the Russians and the Americans.
This film is incredibly violent and surrounded by much controversy. The film follows the exploits of a unit of young ‘soldiers in training’ as they continually witness the torture of several Russian and Chinese captives. At the beginning of the film, the young soldiers can barely watch a gruesome experiment preformed; however, as the film progresses, so does their ability to view the subjects of these experiments as lesser beings.
This detachment is further along by events, such as the disembowelment of a Chinese individual the group befriended. The victim in this scene is often cited as actually being a body delivered from the morgue.
The director’s emotions, resonate strongly through this otherwise lifeless film. It is quite clear that the purpose of this film is to ensure that the horrid events and the resulting psychological trauma that occurred by the hands of this Japanese unit are never forgotten. This is honestly the only redeeming value found in the film because otherwise it is merely a gorefest.