User Reviews (14)

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  • In the wake of the disaster cycle of the 1970's Roger Corman imported this film about the destruction of Japan, hacked out about 90 minutes, added Lorne Greene and dumped it on an easily fooled American public. How would Gone with the Wind survive with over three fifths of it cut away?

    If you should be lucky enough to see the full Japanese cut of this film you will be treated not only to a spectacular disaster film, the disaster sequences being what Corman primarily pillaged, but one that raises many interesting social questions, if you know a country is ceasing to exist, what do you do with the population? What happens when one of the world's financial powers ceases to exist? How does the world view the Japanese, or any country for that matter? The social questions are shoe horned in to the drama of people not only trying to survive the destruction but also find a place to go.

    The full two hour and thirty minute version is one of the best big budget disaster films ever made. Actually its much better than that, its simply one of the best films I've run across. Certainly its infinitely better than the film that runs half its length and is its bastard child.

    See the full version and avoid Tidal Wave.
  • Overall one's reaction to this film will rely on how interested they are in geology and plate tectonics. There are several points in this film where it grinds to a halt and we are "treated" to a lecture about how the earth's crust and mantle work and why the destruction of Japan is so imminent. While ostensibly quite boring, this actually perked up my attention as the whole scenario seems quite plausible. Japan is in fact in a precarious geologic position and could indeed one day (albeit over the course of millions of years) fall away into the Japan Trench.

    This movie asks you to accept a huge what-if scenario for if continental drift could suddenly accelerate to cataclysmic rates. Fortunately this film also does a pretty good attempt to simulate this, relying heavily on Teruyoshi Nakano's brilliant pyrotechnic effects.

    The real show-stopper comes about 40 minutes into the film with the out-of-nowhere 15-minute earthquake that strikes Tokyo and kills over 3 million people. What a bodycount! I think it had to be the largest in any film up to that point. Lots of quality shots of oil refineries exploding, cars crashing, people running around on fire, and even some surprisingly graphic gore when glass shards rain down on civilians. This sequence (along with the film in general) is aided immeasurably by one of Tetsuro Tamba's best performances ever as the stoic, yet prone-to-outburst prime minister.

    Unfortunately this mid-movie sequence is the high point of the film. The climax is clumsily structured and not very exciting at all, instead deciding to focus on two married evacuees being separated. Quite disappointing. At least the film maintains a level of earnest seriousness which can draw you in even though there is little or no character development... much like VIRUS did seven years later. Also it asks some good questions such as whether a nation deserves to exist when the land underneath it ceases to be... or what human life (when we're not talking about a few, but 100 MILLION) is really worth.

    Overall though, this film is a bit talky and poorly structured, but personally I was quite intrigued and not bored... and the mid-movie destruction and mayhem (as only the Japanese can deliver) was well-worth the price of admission. Also, refreshingly for Toho films of the time, there are no annoying children and no attempts at humor. Zero.
  • This is the original film adaptation to the popular science fiction novel by Komatsu Sakyo, Nihon Chinbotsu. The scale of the disaster and the uniqueness of the implications has never before been matched by any film (except for probably the remake). Here's why: Nihon Chinbotsu is very simply about Japan Sinking in to the ocean. With great eruptions of volcanos and tremendous earthquakes, the homeland of the Japanese will completely disappear along with their factories, landscapes, cherry blossoms, cultural artifacts, and the homes and lives of millions. And none of these things can be rebuilt. The Japanese do not rise out of the ashes with a will to reconstruct their nation, the Japanese do not find hope in the rubble, there is nothing. The homeland is lost forever and the Japanese will have to live amongst people they have no ties with, in a culture foreign and a language unknown, amongst hatred with the label a refugee forever.

    You can clearly see that this movie is not the traditional disaster flick. If you just want to see exciting heroics and special effects, this movie will not deliver. It's an old film and from 21st century standards, the visible strings and cheesy explosions cannot satisfy. But the movie makes up for it in substance. The story, the characters, the despair, is all believable. The questions raised like, are the Japanese worth saving once they've lost all their economic power? And because the story takes place in Japan, of course the people also begin to consider dying with their homes.

    It's definitely a must watch especially if you've seen the recent remake or don't have time to read the book. If you're Japanese, take the extra moment to think about what you would do in this situation and this movie will leave a lasting impression on your mind.
  • Back in 1973, I have the opportunity to see this film in a lush big screen and back them that was an impressive show. Of course, anyone that has grown up in today's computer animated hyper realistic effects will dissect the movie mercilessly. In the other hand, we have here a film that depicts an event that 35 years later will make a good docudrama in the Discovery Channel. This drama described with precision a nation loosing his homeland to a great cataclysm that literally erase Japan out of the map, dispersing the surviving population around the globe separating families and friends to eventually live at the mercy of surrogate countries. I will love to see this film made again with today's f/x technology. Japanese filmmakers have matured well enough to create one the most shocking films ever.
  • I really like this flick. It's like a monster movie without the monster, lots of japanese people screaming a lot and running away from exploding model buildings. Its actually made me think a bit...what would happen if this were true? Would the countries of the world take in hundreds of millions of immigrants if their country became unlivable?
  • This will be the first comment here that actually reviews the original 143-minute Japanese film, THE SUBMERSION OF JAPAN (1973) and not the shortened, recut 82-minute U.S. release version, TIDAL WAVE (1975).

    THE SUBMERSION OF JAPAN is based on a 1973 novel, "Japan Sinks," by Sakyo Komatsu, that posits a series of geological disturbances, described in great scientific detail, that cause the Japan archipelago to first be broken up and then, ultimately, completely submerged. In the novel, the eventual catastrophe is presaged by a series of quakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc. that alert the most forward-thinking members of the scientific community to the fate awaiting Japan. There are a few main characters, but the book never gets very close to any of them, preferring to flit back and forth between developments on a number of fronts, including the reactions of various foreign governments to pleas by Japan to take its refugees. The ostensible hero is Onodera, an expert at underwater exploration, and his love interest is Reiko, a sexy, somewhat impulsive rich girl looking for a husband. He doesn't really have much of a part (at least in the abridged English translation I read), while Reiko only has about two scenes.

    I watched an unsubtitled tape of the movie right after reading the book. The movie is incredibly talky. I would estimate that 90 percent of it consists of men sitting in cramped rooms talking. What I found especially frustrating is the lack of urgency. We see none of the smaller disturbances around the country that build up to the big disasters. We get virtually nothing until the 54-minute mark when an earthquake suddenly hits Tokyo and causes massive death and destruction. Within two minutes of its start we see Tokyo in flames and sensational shots of people trapped in burning cars and catching fire and being crushed by falling debris. No build-up. No sense of a chain of cause-and-effect. And then nothing for another 53 minutes. It's right back to the men in suits sitting in rooms, talking, talking, talking.

    The movie is also poorly shot, directed and edited. There doesn't seem to be any attention to production design. The visuals are invariably dull or ugly. Nothing looks right. When the Prime Minister has his first big meeting with scientists about the crisis, it takes place in a small conference room of the type you'd find in a public school or local government office. They seem to have shot wherever they could get quick access to an actual interior instead of actually building sets or seeking locations that looked good on film. I don't know whether they thought this would make it look realistic or semi-documentary or something, but it makes the whole enterprise look incredibly cheap. Also, there are very few establishing shots, so we almost never know where anything is taking place. Every time the scene changes, it's a cut from one cramped interior with one group of characters to another cramped interior with another group of characters that could be down the hall or a thousand miles away for all we know.

    While watching it, I kept thinking back to Ishiro Honda's films, most notably GODZILLA (1954) and RODAN (1957). Any one of his films looked far better, cinematically, and far more realistic in their depictions of disaster than this film did. Why didn't Toho hire Honda to direct this? He was, after all, the studio's in-house expert on the use of miniature sets in the destruction of Tokyo and would certainly have gotten a lot more mileage out of the miniatures used here than this director, Shiro Moritani, did.

    The one major star in the cast, Tetsuro Tanba (YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, MESSAGE FROM SPACE), plays the Prime Minister, who becomes much more of a major character than he was in the book and is seen, uncharacteristically, yelling and carrying on at a high emotional pitch in several scenes. (Why does he yell at the top of his lungs over the phone at a helicopter pilot who is simply trying to report on the Tokyo fire and earthquake? Is that something a Prime Minister would do?) Also in the cast, in the role of Onodera, is Hiroshi Fujioka, better known to U.S. fans of Japanese fantasy as "Kamen Rider," from the TV series of that name. (He was also the star of the U.S.-made Samurai-in-ice thriller, GHOST WARRIOR, 1982.)

    I should point out that I've also seen Roger Corman's edited version of this film, TIDAL WAVE (1975), which I remember as being pretty awful. I used to harbor hard feelings toward Corman for the butchery he performed on the original film, but, having finally seen the original, I can't see any way this film could have been released, as is, in the U.S. It's just too long, slow, talky and cheap-looking.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    first, I enjoyed this movie. Not that i'd watch it twice, but it was easily watchable and I find the harsh reviews quite unjustified. Of course I took this movie as a docu-drama of average craft, not a blockbuster and not the next Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla. The plot is very simple: vanity scientific expedition to ascertain why the private island of some big guy sunk in the ocean shortly reveals how the entire Japan is soon to follow the same sort. It gets the point across about urgency and the limits of "human brotherhood". Everything was quite realistic and to those who think the world would gladly accept tens of millions refugees, dream on boys (and rightfully so)...what if your neighborhood were the recipient? Cinematography is very average, SFX are poor & dated, but that adds to the "docu-drama" angle, reinforced by the many detailed scientific explanations. Acting, era&genre-wise is fair: no Oscar time, but not bunk, either.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For some reason I thought this was "Japan Sinks" the 2006 remake, no biggie. I even kept watching it although my copy had no English subtitles, you can still follow the story well enough.

    Lots of explosions, people running around on fire, a great "oh my eye!" moment and scientists shouting at each other and and getting into fist fights.

    I don't know why they didn't shove the manly 70s hair guy into the Japan Trench as it would have stopped all the trouble in the first place. It has to have been his hair that stopped him being killed all those times. His hair was tougher than he was as he couldn't even throw a punch.

    Andrew Hughes steals the show as the Australian Prime Minister: "If we accept 5 million Japanese, they'll simply use our land and resources to build themselves another country."

    Australia is the only country in the film not to accept some of the eventual 37 million refugees, they make a point of that for some reason, no idea why...
  • In the wake of the recent tsunami and series of earthquakes in Japan, this movie I had seen as a child came to mind. I remember the disaster scenes being pretty horrific (although this was the pre-CGI era). I also remembered the United Nations or some body akin to it deciding on the distribution of the Japanese population to various nations who agree to receive a number of refugees. With the earthquakes continuing and the possibility of another if not several tidal waves occurring, one hopes this movie doesn't become a reality for Japan. I've learned from reading the other reviews that there is a shorter hacked version of this movie. I'm trying to get a copy of the full length original movie. I think the one I saw was the original although couldn't swear to it. If anyone knows where it's available, whether DVD or VHS please let me know.
  • This film is very rarely shown. As one of the biggest fans of the disaster movie genre, I can honestly say that the film is a disappointment. The Japanese version of this film was excellent from what I understand, but the American version that I saw was terrible. Lorne Green was dubbed in for American audiences in 1975 and the movie was retitled Tidal Wave. I believe 1973 is listed on IMD's records. I think you may be incorrect. I have always seen the movie date as 1975 everywhere else. The special effects are worth seeing as some of the acting, but again very disappointing as far as the tidal wave sequences. It is worth watching once if the networks ever air it again. This picture is very rare and almost forgotten.
  • One of the epic disasters of the 1970s, Tidal Wave debutted with movie reviews (even in the NY Times) that failed to mention Lorne Greene in top billing in the US had been dubbed in to appeal to american audiences and to arc off Lorne greene's successful portrayal of a disaster victim in Earthquake. Lorne Greene appears in two or three disconnected scenes (as President of the US not as Ambassador as the credits indicate.)

    Compared to the other films in the disaster genre, Towering Inferno, Omega Man, Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake, Tidal Wave was all wet.

    This picture is rarely shown and deserves to be forgotten.
  • stickyboy7773 September 2006
    Some great movies come out of Japan...this isn't one of them. Unfortunately, most Japanese Hollywood style blockbusters come out looking like TV dramas...complete with poor scripting, poor acting and low low budget effects.

    As if that isn't bad enough this movie perpetuates a particularly sad Japanese view of the world...namely, that no-one cares about them. We have seen the compassionate way that the world reacts to disasters. We can be quite sure that, in the event of a situation like this, that given the combination of japan's wealth, its ties with other economic powers, the compassion of the people of the world etc.. that

    1. Countries would put together their technological resources and manpower to try to solve the problem (Japan would not be on its own to try to deal with it) and 2. If it were not possible to solve the problem, many countries would gladly take in refugees.

    The message of this film is that Japanese people are innocent victims alone in their suffering and that the rest of the world can not be relied on to aid them in any way. This is, of course, a fallacy that makes for a rather pathetic world-view... but one that certainly helps create a sense of nationalism. The formula used in this movie could be equally well put to use by the propaganda writers of North Korea...though I guess if they did they did make such a film it probably wouldn't be far from the truth in their case.

    Watch this film if you really have absolutely nothing else to do or see. Be prepared to be bored, annoyed and bemused...on the positive side at least you'll come away from this understanding something of the Japanese psyche.
  • Once again the beautiful city of Japan is threatened by natural disasters. Lord knows Japan has suffered through a lifetime of loss by tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanos. The special effects are good and the storyline is less than exciting even to a devoted disaster movie fan like me. I would recommend anyone to view it once, that is if it is ever aired again. You will find the movie at least partly entertaining as long as the network does'nt show too many commercials to lose your interest.