Empire of the Sun


Empire of the Sun

Critics Consensus

One of Steven Spielberg's most ambitious efforts of the 1980s, Empire of the Sun remains an underrated gem in the director's distinguished filmography.



Total Count: 51


Audience Score

User Ratings: 60,182
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Movie Info

Based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun stars Christian Bale as a spoiled young British boy, living with his wealthy family in pre-World War II Shanghai. During the Japanese invasion, Bale is separated from his parents. With the help of soldier-of-fortune John Malkovich, Bale learns to survive without a retinue of servants at his beck and call. By the time Malkovich and Bale are tossed into a Japanese prison camp, the boy has picked up enough street-smarts and developed enough intestinal fortitude to regard his imprisonment as an exciting adventure. The story ends during the 1945 liberation: on the verge of manhood, the 13-year-old Bale will never again be the pampered, privileged brat whom we met in the early scenes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Christian Bale
as Jim "Jamie" Graham
Miranda Richardson
as Mrs. Victor
Nigel Havers
as Rawlins
Masatô Ibu
as Sgt. Nagata
Emily Richard
as Jim's Mother
Rupert Frazer
as Jim's Father
Peter Gale
as Mr. Victor
Takatoro Kataoka
as Kamikaze Boy Pilot
Robert Stephens
as Mr. Lockwood
Guts Ishimatsu
as Sgt. Uchida
Emma Piper
as Amy Matthews
James Walker
as Mr. Radik
Jack Dearlove
as Singing Prisoner
Anna Turner
as Mrs. Gilmour
Jo Ann Castle
as Mrs. Phillips
Yvonne Gilan
as Mrs. Lockwood
Ralph Michael
as Mr. Partridge
Sybil Maas
as Mrs. Hug
Eric Flynn
as British Prisoner
James Greene
as British Prisoner
Harrison Simon
as British Prisoner
Barrie Houghton (II)
as British Prisoner
Paula Hamilton
as British Prisoner
Thea Ranft
as British Prisoner
Tony Boncza
as British Prisoner
Nigel Leach
as British Prisoner
Sheridan Forbes
as British Prisoner
Peter Copley
as British Prisoner
Barbara Bolton
as British Prisoner
Francesca Longrigg
as British Prisoner
Samantha Warden
as British Prisoner
Kieron Jecchinis
as American Prisoner
Michael Crossman
as American Prisoner
Gary Parker
as American Prisoner
Ray Charleson
as American Prisoner
Burt Kwouk
as Mr. Chen
Tom Danaher
as Col. Marshall
Kong Guo-Jun
as Chinese Youth
Takao Yamada
as Japanese Truck Driver
Keiron Jecchinis
as American Prisoner
Hiro Arai
as Japanese Sergeant/Airfield
Paul McGann
as Lt. Price
Marc de Jonge
as Frenchman
Edith Platten
as Paul's Sister
Shirley Chantrell
as Chinese Cook At Detention Center
Sylvia Marriott
as Mrs. Partridge
Frank Duncan
as Mrs. Hug's Father
Ronald Eng
as Mr. Chen's Aide
Za Chuan Ce
as Shopkeeper
Shi Rui Qing
as Shopkeeper
Lu Ye
as Merchant
Guo Xue Liang
as Merchant
Ge Yan Zhao
as Merchant
J.G. Ballard
as Guest at Costume Party
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Critic Reviews for Empire of the Sun

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (38) | Rotten (13)

Audience Reviews for Empire of the Sun

  • Jun 01, 2016
    Perhaps the best Spielberg film ever, this war drama has a large cast but focuses on mainly one character, a boy out of his familiars. Malkevich plays an American, capitalism uncaged, for whom the war is primarily an opportunity for gain. Richardson is a British socialite, forced against her will to look at real life and none too happy about it. And Bale, the star, is a Brit of privilege too, but barely manages to make do. This piece had two things against it as I went in, Spielberg and Bale, but both rise above their comfort zones to deliver an exceptional story.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 14, 2016
    Another film I have only just got aroundd to seeing. Superbly done by Steven Spielberg and with a great performance from Christian Bale, it's strange that this film is underrated. A harrowing coming of age tale of life during World War 2 occupation and all the nightmares that entails. If you haven't seen it, I do recommend it.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 11, 2015
    "Empire of The Sun" is a superb drama film of 1987. The plot to this movie is that a 13 year old boy named "Jim" portrayed by "Christian Bale", who's family is extremely wealthy. Jim's family lives in Shanghai during the 1940's. After Jim and his family are trying to escape Shanghai, Jim looses his family and tries to find them. The plot to this film is amazing, the character change of Jim's character is perfect. The acting in this movie is superb, even at age 13 "Christain Bale" was an amazing actor. Another great actor in this film is "John Malkovich", he does a great job at playing the character "Basie". "John Williams" is perfect for creating suspenseful and dramatic music in movies, and "Empire of The Sun" is no exception. "Steven Spielberg" always films movies beautifully, he made a hot and dusty place look great. The drama in this movie was handled very well, because this movie could have easily become a kid crying all the time, but due to "Steven Spielberg's" perfect directing it didn't. If you enjoy drama films then I highly recommend you watch "Empire of The Sun" as it is a film with great acting, great directing and amazing music. I give "Empire of The Sun" an 8/10.
    Steve G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2015
    Between a 4 and 4.5. Bumped up for emotional impact and overall good work by everyone involved.
    Kyle M Super Reviewer

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