The Man Who Stole the Sun (1979)
"Taiyô wo nusunda otoko" (original title)

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A misfit high-school science teacher decides to build his own atomic bomb. He steals isotopes from a nuclear reactor and manages to create two warheads, but at the same time is present at a... See full summary »



(screenplay) (as Renâdo Shureidâ) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Bunta Sugawara ...
Inspector Yamashita
Kenji Sawada ...
Makoto Kido
Kimiko Ikegami ...
Zero Sawai
Kazuo Kitamura ...
Tanaka, the director of the National Police Agency
Shigeru Kôyama ...
Kei Satô ...
Dr. Ichikawa
Yûnosuke Itô ...
Bus Hijacker
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eimei Esumi ...
Hiroshi Gojo ...
Identikit Officer
Tatsuya Hamaguchi
Hajime Hoshi
Junichi Hosokawa
Akinobu Imamura
Yukiko Inoue
Yûdai Ishiyama ...
Detective Ishikawa


A misfit high-school science teacher decides to build his own atomic bomb. He steals isotopes from a nuclear reactor and manages to create two warheads, but at the same time is present at a botched school-bus hijacking and is publicly coronated as a hero. Nevertheless, he uses the bombs to extort the police, first by demanding that baseball games be shown without commercial interruptions and then by having the Rolling Stones play in Japan despite their drug bust. Soon it's a race to see what wins first: the determined cop who's after him, the bomb he's carrying, or a burgeoning case of radiation poisoning... Written by Serdar Yegulalp

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Crime | Thriller


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Release Date:

9 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Stole the Sun  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.96 : 1
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Did You Know?


At one point when Kenji Sawada is fending off the nuclear plant workers, the sound effects are taken from the video game Supêsu Inbêdâ (1978) which was enjoying massive success in Japan at the time of the movie's release. The movie begins and ends with exactly the same sound: a ticking clock, and then an explosion. See more »


[Writing a long, complex formula]
Makoto Kido: ...and thus, acidic plutonium becomes plutonium metal. Any questions?
Student: Yeah... so, making atomic bombs is going to be included on the exam?
Makoto Kido: ...the exam?
Other Student: Well, if it isn't, could we move on to something else, please? We're the only class still on this!
See more »


Referenced in Crossfire (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

A bombastic bombshell of escapist entertainment
28 February 2015 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

By many accounts, Kazuhiko Hasegawa's second feature film is a bold film, unusually flamboyant for its time (not by Kurosawa standards), and is a milestone in mainstream Japanese cinema. "The Man who stole the sun" was based on a story treatment written by an American screenwriter, Leonard Schrader (of "The Yakuza" fame and the brother of filmmaker Paul Schrader) who lived in Japan at the time. Hasegawa was hired to adapt this idea into a film based on his success from his first feature film, "The Youth Killer" which was hailed as a bold insight into the psyche of a young serial killer. It is interesting to note that Hasegawa was a Hiroshima native who suffered radiation poisoning when he was in his mother's womb as result of the dropping of the atomic bomb (which provides one of the pivotal themes in the film). The starring role of Makoto, the science teacher was given to the Japanese pop diva, Kenji Sawada (also known by his fans as "Julie")whose acting shines on par with his singing. This conscious casting decision (considering how Sawada was at the peak of his solo singing career) characterizes the flamboyant nature of this film. The role of the police officer, Yamashita who chases Makoto toe to toe throughout the film was given to the late Bunta Sugawara (who was known for playing gangster roles) is very over the top, but is a great contrast to the character of Makoto. The plot is quite straight forward a socially awkward science steals plutonium to build his own atomic bomb and threatens the government. Makoto's motivation to use his creation is fittingly unclear and bears some resemblance to a Travis Bickle (a character created by Paul Schrader). The pacing of the film (it is somewhat long, slightly above two and a half hours), somewhat reflects the motivation of Makoto character as the film progresses, the pacing becomes slower (Unusual, given the elaborate car chase shot on location in the middle of Tokyo was the film's climax). These unusual aesthetic choices makes this cult-classic very entertaining in spite of its shortcomings. The film was financially unsuccessful because of it's rather insensitive advertising tag line, (Direct translation "Julie is tough as an atomic bomb") but has gathered a cult following and is considered by some critics as one of the best mainstream Japanese films ever made. This film overall is definitely worth it's praise.

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