Several years after filming "Men Behind the Sun", director T F Mou decided to make a follow-up of sorts. This time about the atrocities committed by the Japanese army during the invasion of Nanking, China in 1937.
Filmed in the style of a docu-drama, mixing genuine news footage and historical photos into the storyline. The film starts with the Japanese Imperial Army invading the Chinese capital of Nanking. Then going onto break every single rule of the Geneva convention, regarding the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war.
The events are told from several different viewpoints. A family, who decide to stay in their home when the Japs invade (bad idea), who get split up when the soliders break in to loot the place. A chinese man, employed by the Japanese as an interpreter, who thinks as long as he is useful will be spared any unpleasantries (wrong). The foreign civillians running the refugee camps for displaced civillians and we also get to see things from the point of view of the Japanese army.
Though not as graphic or visceral as his previous "Men Behind the Sun". "The Nanking Massacre" is still a very tough ordeal to sit through, as the director shows the Japanese soldiers ruthlessly gunning down and massacring injured prisoners of war and civilians, including the young and elderly. Along with numerous scenes of the soldiers raping, looting and pillaging their way through the city in a virtual non-stop orgy of bloodshed and violence that apparently lasted 6 weeks.
Some of the more disturbing highlights include Japanese General Kyogo practicing his skills with the samurai sword by beheading half a dozen Chinese prisoners, a Japanese soldier disembowelling a young pregnant girl with his bayonet and hoisting out her foetus on the end of his rifle as she lays dying. 2 soldiers attempting to rape a 12 year old girl and a mass cremation, where the Japanese army attempt to dispose of all the dead bodies in the city in one fell swoop.
Its disturbing enough to know that these scenes are based on fact, but more so to know that, by the directors own admission, the atrocities the Japanese committed in Nanking were far, far worse than depicted in the film. Which the director describes as "not a war, but an intentional, planned and organised massacre".
Gritty, grim and disturbing. This makes an excellent companion piece to "Men Behind the Sun", and whilst not as gory, still requires a similarly strong stomach. Please note that this film should NOT be confused with the 2 unrelated sequels to "Men Behind the Sun" by Godfrey Ho, hence why the film is titled "Men Behind the Sun Part 4" in some countries, despite the fact this is the only proper sequel.