Almost exactly 40 years ago, on September 15, 1982, the movie Assassin was released in Japan. The plot was loosely based on the Setouchi Seajack Incident of 1970, one of the country’s most notorious hostage situations at the time. In the dramatized version, a suspect takes a Toyota Corona taxi, leading police cars on a thrilling chase through the narrow streets of Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Assassin‘s car chase begins with the main character, played by Yoshizumi Ishihara, robbing a store and jumping into a T100 Toyota Corona taxi. He points a gun at the driver, who immediately bails, leaving the robber to get into the driver’s seat himself. The police give chase in Nissan Cedric patrol cars, performing some epic J-turns in the process. The stunt driving is a notch above the ones you typically see in Japanese TV shows of the era, which usually had police cars crashing even when no obstacle was in place.
The real Setouchi Seajack Incident was set off when police pulled over the three suspects for an illegal overtake and found them driving a stolen car. The three were arrested on the spot and taken to a police station, but two escaped after stabbing a police officer in the chest. Police managed to track down a second suspect, but the third ended up commandeering a ferry boat and taking passengers on board as hostages for two days. News cameras followed the entire unfolding, including the moment where police snipers shot and killed the suspect on live television.