• The China Syndrome (2008)

The China Syndrome

Release Date: December 8th, 2008

DVD Release Date: May 25th, 1999

PG |2 hr 2 min

Plot Summary

A news reporter (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas) are unintentional witnesses to a SCRAM incident, an emergency core shutdown procedure at a nuclear power plant in California. The crew prevents a catastrophe, but the plant supervisor (Jack Lemmon) begins to suspect the plant is in violation of safety standards, and tries desperately to bring it to the attention of the public, fearing that another SCRAM incident will produce an atomic disaster.

Cast: Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, Scott Brady, James Hampton, Peter Donat, Wilford Brimley, James Karen

Director: James Bridges

Genres: Drama , Thriller

Production Co: IPC Films

Distributors: Columbia Pictures

Keywords: Intense, Sacrifice, 1970s, Fall, Gripping, Suspenseful

Ratings & Reviews

  • 63
    Jay ScottThe Globe and Mail (Toronto)

    Evil isn't a matter of banality in The China Syndrome; it's a barracuda in a three-piece suit. The film is thus weakened both politically and esthetically. The weakness does not stand in the way of the movie's cumulative effect, which is to weaken the knees, but as you make your way out of the theatre, knee-caps clicking like castanets, you may stop to wonder what kind of shape you'd be in if the one-eyed king's vision had been bifold.[24 March 1979]

  • 80
    Ian NathanEmpire

    Technology, as ever, is examined through a pessimistic prism, but the script is equipped with enough jargon and detail to expose the work and responsibility of the filmmakers. show more

  • 100
    Roger EbertChicago Sun-Times

    The movie is, above all, entertainment: well-acted, well-crafted, scary as hell. show more

See all critic reviews on metacritic.com


Nominated Actor in a Leading Role
Winner Actress
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (1979)
Nominated Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated Best Performance By an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Nominated Best Director - Motion Picture
Winner Actor
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (1979)
Nominated Best Motion Picture - Drama
Nominated Screenplay
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (1979)
Nominated Best Performance By an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Nominated Film
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (1979)
Nominated Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Nominated Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen)
Nominated Art Direction