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Men Behind the Sun (1988)
"Hei tai yang 731" (original title)

 -  Drama | History | Horror  -  March 1989 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 3,749 users  
Reviews: 79 user | 29 critic

Japanese troops round up Chinese and Russian prisoners of war and take them to a place called Squadron 731, where they are grotesquely tortured and experimented on to test new biological weapons.

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(as T.F. Mous)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Jianxin Chen
Hsu Gou
Linjie Hao
Haizhe Jin
Tie Long Jin
Yuanrong Jin
Bolin Li
Pengyu Liu
Xuhui Liu
Zhaohua Mei ...
(as Zhao Hua Mei)
Zhe Quan
Jiefu Tian
Gang Wang ...
Runsheng Wang ...
(as Run Shen Wang)
Shennin Wang
Edit

Storyline

Story of a Japanese terror camp in the end of WW2, where the Japanese are using the Chinese as guinea pigs in terrible experiments to develop deadly bacterial-plagues. Written by Tobias Broljung <larry@algonet.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Horror | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

March 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Squadron 731  »

Box Office

Gross:

HKD 11,092,186 (Hong Kong) (23 December 1988)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut) | (World Video release) | (Dead Alive Productions release)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There was no special effects industry in China when this film was made so many of the special effects in the film were done with real cadavers which director Tun Fei Mou was able to obtain through connections of his. The frostbite experiment victim's arms were real corpse arms and the child's body was a real cadaver. Mou waited for a whole month to find a body the same size as the child playing the role. He was almost ready to give up when the local police called him telling him that a child had been killed in an accident. He got permission from the parents and filmed the child's autopsy, dressing the coroners up like WWII-era Japanese doctors. The close ups of the child's organs being removed were done by dissecting a pig. See more »

Goofs

When the leader of the soldier boys patrol command them to drop and crawl through the snow, one soldier can be seen already dropped before he is even told to do so. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Shiro Ishii: A small rat can beat a cat. Fleas and germs can defeat bombers and guns. This is... the basic theory behind Squadron 731. It is also my philosophy.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Cinema Snob: Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of those movies that you definitely only need to see once.
9 May 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's only a handful of movies I can say that about- Threads and Funny Games are the other ones I can think of off the top of my head. If you've seen a lot of disturbing movies, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You'll get the idea after one viewing, and you won't be able to wipe some of the images out of your head, or still have nightmares about them, even years later anyway.

I heard about this movie in the 80's, when I went out of my way to see every movie or video I could that was supposed to be shocking, disturbing, or really sick. Actually, I still do that, though these days I do try to read about it first, to make sure it is worth spending my money on. So that probably means I need some sort of therapy, but that's beside the point. Many of my favorite horror authors had brought up the movie when asked about the most upsetting movies they'd seen, and someone I talked to who had seen it just shook their head grimly when I asked them about it. I looked everywhere for this movie but couldn't find it. Years after I'd given up I found a bootleg copy from the laser-disc. This was after I'd seen Peter Jackson's "Braindead" uncut at a film festival, and pretty much decided I'd seen it all and couldn't be shocked anymore.

This movie is evidently based on real-life events during WWII, about a medical camp referred only to as "Camp 731" where the Japanese perform really nasty and unusually creative medical experiments on the Chinese prisoners. This includes women, children, and, in the one scene you couldn't pay me enough to watch because it was rumored to be real and I didn't want to even see a fake depiction of it, a cat. I'd heard that it made Ilsa's SS Camp look like a day at the beach. Well, I don't know about that, but this is definitely one of the most disturbing and depressing movies I've ever seen- as the guy I bought it from said, "Guaranteed to ruin your day". Fortunately, my day was already pretty much ruined, as I was home sick with the flu and feeling wretched the day I watched it. I probably would have been able to fall asleep way earlier if I hadn't watched it, though.

This is definitely not an enjoyable movie, or fun to sit through. Any Italian cannibal movie I can think of is more upbeat than this. Even if you were one of the people who thought the un-cut Ilsa was 'campy' and 'fun', I don't think you'll be too cheerful during this.

I'd actually heard about what were supposed to be the most upsetting scenes, like the poor man in the decompression experiment that sort of implodes in a horrible way that I think is safe to say has never been filmed before or since, when all the air is sucked out of the room, and the very graphic autopsy of the one character in the movie that the filmmakers go out of their way to make sure you care about. Man, that was cold-blooded, but I was expecting that. There's one experiment, though, I think it was called the "frostbite experiment" (most of the experiments are preceded by a title card, which gives the movie an even more cold-blooded, documentary feel) that caught me totally off-guard. I don't want to "spoil" it if you're really into getting caught off guard, but it was one of the rare times I was so shocked when watching a movie I actually gasped and cursed out loud when I was watching something by myself. It takes a lot to shock me, but whenever I'm talking with someone about scenes in movies that really disturbed us, this is one of the first ones I think of. It's been over 5 years since I saw that scene but I still remember it waaay too vividly. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) some of the newer DVDs I've seen for sale give it away in the cover art, so don't look too closely at the box before you watch it (unless you want to know what you're getting yourself into before you rent it). I've got to hand it to whoever thought up that one, because I did NOT see it coming.

If you're into non-stop over-the-top gore, then you might get bored during parts of this. The filmmakers spend some time making you feel sorry for the characters in other ways. This film is well-made, well-acted, has very realistic (way too realistic) gore, and nothing is ever played for laughs - it's not a low-budget splatter movie.The entire movie is just completely depressing, downbeat, and disturbing to the very last frame, and I really only recommend it to people I know who are pretty jaded and don't mind really disturbing, upsetting movies, or those (like me, I hate to admit) that want to say they've seen it all. You also might want to recommend it to any smug people you know that brag about how nothing makes them sick.


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