Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (3 stars)

(18) 90min (Tartan Grindhouse DVD retail)

This is a very weird amalgam of sub-standard video nasty style gore and sanctimonious documentary footage of the Nanking massacre of 1937. The film might have been a genuine exploitation classic, or a horrifically reflective examination, had it decided to be one thing or another. As it is the generally inept special effects pale next to the archival footage it intermittently offers up. In this exploration of the Japanese 'war' against China, the director Tun Fei Mou (Lost Souls, Trilogy of Love) shows us atrocity after atrocity, but the prosthetic aesthetic doesn't always work. One potentially horrific moment shows a soldier with a bayonet removing a woman's almost fully formed foetus from her just sliced open stomach. But for all its vivid re-enactment it lacks even a hint of the haunting moment where we see, in a grainy black and white photo, a man's head barely hanging on to its neck after a summary beheading. Extras include a 'History of Nanking' illustrated with a virtual map.

Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre

  • 3 stars
  • 1994
  • Hong Kong
  • 1h 30min
  • Directed by: Mou Tun Fei
  • Cast: Liang Zhang, Yung Pan, Shao-tien Hsiung, Wen-ting Chiang, Wen-tu Pan, Hua Shao