A sendup of the stereo-typical Japanese family: dad is a salaryman jerk, unable to relate to anyone; mom is a hopeless housewife; the older son is a moderate academic success; but the ... See full summary »
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
At one point when Kenji Sawada is fending off the nuclear plant workers, the sound effects are taken from the video game Space Invaders (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 »
[On their way to appease a hostage-taker.]
You're a teacher? What do you teach?
Hm. I don't think science isn't going to help us right now.
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This is the second and the final film directed by Kazuhiko Hasegawa (excluding a super-obscure pinku film), whose mother was subjected to the Hiroshima radiation while she was pregnant with him. As chance would have it, The Man Who Stole the Sun is a film that deals with nuclear paranoia, its title mirroring the scary idea that practically anyone could make an atomic bomb if determined enough. Some of the footage from the film was cut at government request because the bomb-making instructions were too detailed. The film was co-written by Leonard Schrader (brother of Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader), who lived in Japan at the time.
The two main characters are polar opposites in terms of their significance in pop-culture. The protagonist is played by Kenji Sawada (aka Julie Sawada), a pop-star and a plain symbol of the new generation, while his rival is played by Bunta Sugiwara, who became famous playing hard-boiled gangsters (one character in this film remarks; "He looks more like a gangster than a cop to me"). Their cat and mouse game makes way for an unpredictable plot, partially set during the actual Communist Party May Day march, where the scenes were mostly shot without permission, and assistant director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (later a famous director of his own) got arrested for throwing fake money off of a building and almost inciting a riot.
Despite its preposterous length, the movie keeps your attention throughout with the help of many tonal shifts. Without pardon it goes from a hostage crisis thriller to a cutesy school drama, action comedy, nuclear thriller, quirky romance with a radio host, experimental lunacy, car chase and finally an epic standoff as a part of an outrageously ballsy and over- the-top finale which makes everything worthwhile in the end. Amazingly strange. I also dig the 70s feel to it, from the soundtrack to the color scheme where everything is seen through pink lens.
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