Film Review: PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE (2008)

Film Review: PHILOSOPHY OF A KNIFE (2008)

Sep 12, 2018

IMDb: Philosophy of a Knife (2008)
Director: Andrey Iskanov
Stars: Tetsuro Sakagami, Tomoya Okamoto, Yukari Fujimoto

Philosophy of a Knife is a really interesting piece of filmmaking from Director Andrey Iskanov. It was released in 2008 by Unearthed Films, fully uncut in two parts. These two parts will walk you through four hours of absolute darkness and human depravity.

Synopsis: The true history of Japanese Unit 731, from its beginnings in the 1930s to its demise in 1945, and the subsequent trials in Khabarovsk, USSR, of many of the Japanese doctors from Unit 731. The facts are told, and previously unknown evidence is revealed by an eyewitness to these events, former doctor and military translator, Anatoly Protasov. Part documentary and part feature, the story is shown from the perspective of a young Japanese nurse who witnessed many of horrors, and a young Japanese officer who is torn between his sincere convictions that he is serving the greater purpose, and the deep sympathy he feels for an imprisoned Russian girl. His life is a living hell as he’s compelled to carry out atrocious experiments on the other prisoners, using them as guinea pigs in this shocking tale of mankind’s barbarity. “Philosophy of a Knife” is truly one of the most violent, brutal and harrowing movies ever made.

Philosophy of a Knife is a film that is structurally difficult to pin down. This, of course, is what makes it incredibly interesting. There are black and white documentary sequences. There are also absolutely brutal black and white gore sequences, based on the factual aspects of the documentary portion of the film. There is real historic narration and an interview that weaves throughout the film. The intricate planning and editing used to create this film was really very interesting for this viewer. Although, I had to watch it over a three day period, (it’s hard to watch these movies with a two year old in the house) I cannot stop thinking about it. It will take most people awhile to find it, since it’s rare, and maybe even longer to watch it. They will, nonetheless, find it to be an incredibly powerful cinematic experience.

So what is so intriguing about the plot? Well, the historical basis of the film deals with a Japanese unit from the 1930’s through World War 2. Within this unit, there are doctors and nurses, some willing and some unwilling, to do experiments on prisoners. This film provided me with a view of the atrocities of World War 2 through the eyes of different countries. It is not very often we look at the Russian side of anything with sympathy. Even more interesting is the fact that there are moments of sympathy shown for the Japanese as well.

So it wasn’t just the experimental format of this film that interested me. The movie made a true statement about the evil that men do. It is a brutal jaunt through a story that soon becomes an empathetic experience. I think this is why some people find this to be an overrated title from Unearthed Films. While it is a highly sought after collector’s piece, many people who own it don’t like it and rarely re-watch it.

The length is probably the main reason that it doesn’t get full re-watches. I think the documentary style may bore the fans of the non-stop extreme gore films as well. I can assure you, however, that the gore sequences in this film are some of the most brutal ever filmed. They are done in black and white, which some “hardcore” fans also hate; but, this style reminds me of the Cyberpunk classic Rubber’s Lover. This film’s grainy, gritty, and loud sequences with jerky motions and abrupt jump cuts, carry you through some of the most disturbing guinea pig-esque” gore scenes.

In the end, this “Extreme Pseudo-Documentary” manages to make an important statement about the world. The most important thing a film, and any art for that matter, can do is make a memorable statement about the world. This film does just that. It is sad that it is an underground film, with a low foreign budget, that many Americans have not had the opportunity to see. It is very freakin’ powerful. The tagline really says it all, “God created Heaven, Man created Hell”. Think about it, and find this film. It will not only be a rare piece for your collection, but it will be one of the most interesting films you will ever see.