Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Japan Sinks (1973)

Director: Shiro Moritani

Starring: Keiju Kobayashi

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Earthquakes shattered the nation. Cities become raging firestorms. But the worst is yet to come

Plot: Racked by earthquakes and volcanoes, Japan is slowly sinking into the sea. It's a race against time and tide begins as Japan's leaders work desperately to enlist the help of the Earth's nations to salvage some fraction of the disappearing Japan.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? possibly but now I'm keen to see the American edit with Lorne Greene called TIDAL WAVE

#11 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

This may very well be the first movie depicting the destruction of Japan that doesn't star a man in a rubber suit. I watched the trailer which made it look like a typical 70s disaster movie. There's a reason for that. It's because it's a trailer made for a heavily edited version with added footage of an over-acting Lorne Greene (not in the original version) to Americanize it. Well, I searched and searched and I came across the original 143 minute Japanese version that some kind folks painstakingly added English subtitles.

At nearly 2 and a half hours long I wasn't quite ready to take that much as it was getting late when I started it so I just watched the first hour and finished it the next night. I was completely taken aback as it's quite engaging. The first hour is essentially the setup as our scientist heroes (Yeah! Go science!) discover that it's very likely Japan could sink into the ocean in the next few years. Their fears are worsened when they've underestimated the timetable and it's within a matter of months.

There are several things that I found remarkable. Firstly, it's never dull. The science seems sound and plausible...but then what the fuck do I know? I'm not geologist or undertheseaologist. It seems reasonable to me. Yeah, it would have been cool if Sonny Chiba showed up and kicked a volcano's ass or if Reiko Ike busted out some topless tattooed titty kung fu, but this isn't that kind of flick.

Uh-oh. Japan's about to get proper fucked! LOOK OUT!!!

Something I didn't expect was how serious this issue was tackled. This is not a typical disaster flick. It goes beyond that. They spend a great deal of time on the scenario of how to evacuate the Japanese islands and what to do with well over 100 million people. What countries will take them? How many? You'd think this would be an easy postulation but it turns out (in the film, of course) most countries drag their heels when it comes to committing. They're worried about disease and crime and such, the things you would likely get when crowding a large population of people into a small area for an indeterminate amount of time. How much will it cost? What about jobs?

I think they handled it quite well. It's not a feel-good movie by any means as Japan does indeed sink and probably only about 10% (at most) of the population was saved in time. There could have been more if the nations of the world had acted sooner. It's definitely a downer and the final shot of where Japan had just recently been was quite powerful.

Now, there's this business of the Lorne Greene version. I can't find it anywhere. It's only 82 minutes and there's A LOT in the above trailer that's not in the original uncut Japanese release that I watched. There was a tidal wave in it but nothing like this trailer sports. In fact, it's probably about 4 seconds of footage. That tidal wave was the least of their plethora of problems. (You see, El Guapo? I, too, know what a plethora is!) I'm really interested in seeing this much shorter version. It looks hilariously bad. Lorne Greene and disaster movie seem to go together like peas and carrots & fish heads and rice.


  1. Hello.
    Please, can you send me english subs for original 143min version?


  2. I would if I could but the subs are hard coded onto the film.