I sat down to watch Philosophy of a Knife and turned it off two hours into its four hour running time. A movie about the infamous Unit 731 in the Japanese army during the late 1930s to mid 1940s. For those unfamiliar, Unit 731 carried out gruesome experiments on people in attempts to create weapons of mass destruction and develop soldiers who could better withstand the elements.
The film is filled with re-enactments and comes across like an exploitation film done like a documentary. In theory that works. Add to the fact that it is more artistic (love those long, lingering shots of eyes just staring) than exploitive, and you could almost pull of the argument that it is supposed to be art.
The greatest sin a film can commit is the sin of being boring. That sums up this film in a nutshell. Boring. How the hell can you make a boring film based on the real events of one of the most notorious military crimes in history? More than 10,000 people were experimented on. Horse blood transfusions given to people. People infected with disease given live vivisections. Teeth forcibly removed from people without the use of numbing agents in order to measure pain. Limbs frozen and then thawed. Stomachs removed and esophagus attached to the intestines.
It practically writes itself if you are making a film that uses gore to get a point across. And this film does go for the gore. You are witness to all kinds of raw things, including the insertion of a rather large insect into the vagina of a woman who is not too pleased. Yes, some of the effects are laughable, but the subject matter (it being factual and all) keeps you from laughing. Everything about it says it should be disturbing. Instead it is just ... pointless.
Perhaps if I sat through another two hours my mood would have been different, but to be honest I doubt I could stay awake. This was a horrible waste of time and energy, and that is made worse knowing that this should have made an impact based upon history alone. Instead, it is an effort in patience to even get through the thing.
-Doug Brunell (America's Favorite Son)