Search - Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre on DVD

Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre
Black Sun The Nanking Massacre
Actor: Anonymous
Director: Tun Fei Mou
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Military & War
UR     2004     1hr 35min

Black Sun is an uncompromising portrayal of the war crimes perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial Army upon the Chinese military and civilian population of Nanking during the occupation of the city. Hailed by critics as one ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Anonymous
Director: Tun Fei Mou
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Military & War
Studio: Unearthed Films
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/16/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Chinese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An important film
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 08/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"T.F. Mou, the director of "Black Sun: Nanking Massacre," is the same chap who lensed the stomach churning tour de force "Men Behind the Sun" back in the late 1980s. The two films are connected in that they both deal with the atrocities visited upon the residents of China by Japanese military occupation in the 1930s and 1940s. If you're familiar at all with the history of World War II, you likely know that the holocaust wasn't the only genocide going on in the world at that time. The Japanese were masters of atrocity, in many ways far worse than the Germans, and it's unfortunate most of their crimes have gone underreported in the post-war years. Much of the meager attention to these brutalities today focuses on Laboratory 731 (covered in Mou's first film), a place where the Japanese military carried out all sorts of heinous biological and chemical experiments on helpless human subjects. "Black Sun: Nanking Massacre" goes back further, to the horrific year 1937, when Japanese soldiers occupied the Chinese city of Nanking. Over the course of several months, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians perished in the worst ways imaginable at the hands of these heartless occupiers.

Individual characters aren't important in "Black Sun" except as vehicles through which we bear witness to the mass murders unfolding on the streets of the city. Mou's camera does zoom in on one particular Chinese family, one of the many with the misfortune to remain behind in the city as the Chinese Army fled, and members of this clan serve as our eyes and ears to what follows. It should go without saying that what happens is not pretty. We've got Japanese soldiers driving bayonets into hapless civilians. We've got soldiers machine gunning innocent civilians. We've got contests going on in the Japanese Army to see who can decapitate the most civilians with their samurai swords. We also see Chinese women rounded up to serve as "entertainment" for the rowdy occupiers. Men, women, children, and the elderly--all receive the same punishments at the hands of the human monsters roaming about the city. As time goes by, the streets and alleys of the city fill up with mountains of corpses. And still the killing continues. As Japanese generals debate various philosophies about what's going on in the city, soldiers burn thousands of bodies on the riverbanks in order to make room for even more bodies. Mou mixes in real photos of the massacre to give the film a documentary feel.

"Black Sun: Nanking Massacre" is NOT your traditional horror/exploitation film, although I think some viewers could definitely interpret the massacres depicted in the movie that way. I can understand how some viewers would think Mou's simply trying to make a quick buck off of human misery, but several scenes in the movie hint at something far more profound here. A pure exploitation film wouldn't waste time trying to convey the philosophy behind the killings and carnage. Mou wants us to understand, if it's possible to understand, why this behavior occurred. The Japanese officers in charge of coordinating the occupation and subjugation of the city seem divided on the best techniques to employ. Some caution against wide scale killing, not because they are squeamish about mass murder but because they believe such methods will unite the entire country against them and thus make occupation more difficult. Most, however, are virulent racists who believe that the Chinese are "sub-humans" and should be exterminated. From what we see in the movie, and from what we know thanks to film footage taken at the time by westerners in the city, we know what philosophy won the day.

As someone who has seen both "Men Behind the Sun" and "Black Sun: Nanking Massacre," I can aver with some certainty that the former film is far worse in terms of icky special effects and killings shot in unrelenting closeup (Except for one scene in "Black Sun" involving a pregnant woman and a Japanese bayonet. It's extremely tough to watch this scene, yet most of the film concerns mass killing.). Both movies work, however, because both show different aspects of the same murderous ideology, an ideology at work in Asia and in Europe before and during the Second World War. One need only watch Mou's two films to understand that the Japanese and the Germans were definitely seeing eye to eye about what sort of world order should rule over the planet. The ordering of humanity into rigid racial hierarchies, the nonchalant reliance on mass murder to achieve political goals, the propensity to use "sub-humans" as guinea pigs in order to advance "scientific" research--yep, the Japanese and the Germans were definitely working out of the same playbook. You hate to say it, but dropping those two atomic bombs was not only the correct course of action but also justified.

Unearthed Films, a DVD company I'm coming to love, gives us a disc bursting at the seams with relevant and informative extras. Aside from the film, which receives about as good a transfer as a film like this could hope for, the company also gives us the hour long documentary film "Why We Fight: The Battle For China." Although a propaganda film, this piece recognizes China's unique contributions to world history and highlights the horrors visited upon Nanking and other places by the Japanese Army. Trailers, production notes, historical text concerning the massacre, maps, real photos from Nanking, and text interviews with director Mou round out the disc. If you've read Iris Chang's "The Rape of Nanking" or similar texts, you'll want to give this one a watch. Careful though, it's a doozy.
How not to make a movie
Lui-Leung Tam | Toronto, Canada | 03/16/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I seldom bothered to write reviews but this movie was such a major disappointment that I felt compelled to write.
Holliwood made numerous movies about WW II and the horror of concentration camps but none about the Japanese invasion of China, probably because of it's limited market appeal. So when I heard about this movie, I thought, finally, someone made a movie about the atrocities of the Japanese Army during WW II. However,this movie should be subtitled "How Not To Make A Movie" since it was sooooooo bad !In Chinese, we have a saying loosely translated go something like " Illustrating the intestine when doing a portrait". What it means is one is over doing the obvious. The movie was supposed to show the horor of war but instead, it was like a elementary school contest. By that I mean in grade schools,contests are held and students are asked to do a poster with captions on health or safety issue. Usually kids come up with graphics illustrating the ill effects of smoking or whatever the theme may be. Well, The Black Sun is just like that. The director, Mr. T. F. Mou assumes that the audience have no comprehension skills and have to be spoon fed on all the facts. Every so often, a short clip of documentary or photos are shown. This is done , I supposed, to tell the audience what the truth is. Well, Mr. Mou, we are not idiots, we have a mind, we can tell for ourselves what is going on.The acting was wooden, the characters are stereotypical, and the dialogues are even worse. After a few scenes of civilians being shot or brutalized. we get the picture, and it soon became tedious to watch the same thing over and over again.
I knew this wasn't the Bridge of River Kwai or the Schindeller's List, but boy, this movie was a complete waste of time. A huge disappointment.Mr. Mou, the director, was supposed to have taken film making course in Taiwan, well, this movie certainly didn't bode well for film making schools in that country. As a matter of fact, Mr. T.F. Mou should do the audience a favour and find another line of work. Ed Wood, the reputed worst director in the world, is now the second worst director in the world, in my opinion."
Horrendous, factual atrocity
Jack Demwaba | California | 01/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"TF Mou, director of Men Behind teh Sun pulls no punches in this, the only film to show the atrocities of Nanking. Not for the faint of heart but a must for people interested in the Nanking Massacre. Real footage was used during some of the film from the footage Father McGee shot will trying to help the people of Nanking.

If more people watched films like this I think the world would be better off from it."
One of the greatest WWII films that is rarely seen
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 05/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I had never heard of the Nanking Massacre before. It doesn't concern the United States, so it isn't really surprising. Filmmaker T.F. Mou (who is sometimes referred to as T.F. Mous) is probably best known as the director of the infamous Men Behind the Sun. It's a cult-exploitation legend--a film that portrays Japanese war atrocities committed in World War II with gruesome FX, real cadavers, and the onscreen killing of a live cat. Love it or hate it (and I've never been entirely sure where I fall in that spectrum), there's no denying MBtS was a powerful piece of filmmaking--it's just that the naysayers felt Mou maybe went a bit too far with the exploitation elements. Of course, if one faults Mou for this, you have to fault everyone who made a Nazi exploitation film as well--and there was a whole subgenre of those.

Mou (who's never been a prolific filmmaker) returned to the fertile ground of Japanese war crimes in 1995 with his film Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre--arguably the most powerful World War II film that most audiences will never see. Based on the real life events at Nanking--wherein Japanese occupying forces slaughtered at least 300,000 Chinese citizens--Black Sun is a harrowing tale of the genocidal jihad the Japanese waged against the Chinese people. Unfortunately, when one thinks of WWII, they invariably think of the Nazis and the Jews--but as Mou's film demonstrates, the Japanese were no less cruel, no less barbaric, and no less efficient at killing large numbers of their enemies than their Nazi counterparts. What is truly disturbing is that many of the Japanese war criminals got off lightly since they allowed the U.S. access to their "research" conducted on innocent civilians.

With a combination of stunningly real film making, some real photos and some accounts from survivors, filmmaker T. F. Mou makes one of the truly disturbing films of his or any generation. While this will appeal to history buffs, beware. The gore, while subdued compared to real life (I can only imagine) is still incredibly hard to watch. The film is in stunning black and white and there is something about it that makes the killings far more realistic and thus offensive to the average viewer. Scenes like soldiers cutting off the heads of Chinese peasants just to see how sharp their swords are. And yet for every moment where the film could derail into pure atrocity (which could be justified--as Mou points out, the Japanese did far worse than what's shown in the film), there are at least three others where it redeems itself. The film is never an easy ride, but it doesn't exist solely to wallow in exploitation elements, either. Total disregard for life on multiple levels.

While not a pleasant film by any stretch of the imagination, Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre is something people should see. Everyone knows about the Nazis and the Holocaust, but few realize just how brutal the Japanese were during the war or how much the Chinese people suffered at their hands. Thankfully, with filmmakers like T.F. Mou around, this sad chapter in history will never be truly forgotten.