Tuesday, 17 May 2011

BlogalongaBond #5 - You Only Live Twice

Relevance of pre-credit sequence:  Very relevant as SPECTRE initiate their evil scheme by capturing a US space shuttle.  Yes Bond films have entered the space race.  Bond himself is "shot to death" after receiving a massage from a woman in Hong Kong.  Odd to see Hong Kong back in the 60's without many of the iconic buildings that feature so prominently on the skyline these days.

Bond song:  You Only Live Twice as sung by Nancy Sinatra.  One of the best instrumentals of the series but not as strong a vocal as the bombastic Welsh warblers of recent films.  Come on Nancy, give it some welly, or get your dad to help out!

Time elaspsed before we hear "Bond... James Bond":  Not said in this film at all!

Attractiveness of Bond Girls:  Depends if you like girls of Asian descent I suppose.  There are two in this film that Bond makes sweet sushi with - Aki and Kissy and they are both Am-Asian! (sorry).  He also sleeps with a redheaded woman working for SPECTRE to stop her from killing him.  As Bond says himself "The things I do for my country".

Best Innuendo: Tiger - in Japan, men come first, women come second.  Bond: I just might retire to here.
Best One Liner when despatching an evil henchman:  [throws someone into the pool of piranhas]  Bon Appetit!

Best Gadget:  While Bond does prove smoking kills with a cigarette that can fire bullets, the award this time round goes to Little Nellie.  A portable mini helicopter with a plethora of projectile weaponary.

Evilness of villain:   This was where we finally get our first full look at SPECTRE's Number 1 and arch-nemesis of Bond, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played this time round by Donald Pleasance).  Whilst it is undeniable that some of the threat and menace of Blofeld has been diminished thanks to Mike Myers and Dr. Evil, Blofeld is still a criminal mastermind, willing to get rid os expendable assets to get the job done and only fault in this film is the cliche of failing to just kill Bond when he has the chance.  Pleasance gives him a quiet eloquence that is disarming yet the cold, calculating evil is never that far below the surface.  Having said that, Bond could kick his arse in 10 seconds flat then probably punt his cat across the room afterwards just for kicks.

Feasibility of evil scheme:  SPECTRE charge $100 million to start a war between Russia and the USA by stealing spce shuttles and causing the two opposing superpowers to blame each other.  While the technology required seems slightly implausible, the notion that USA and Russia would go to war is completely feasible, so not a bad plan overall.

Does Bond end the film on a boat in a romantic clinch:  Of course he bloody does!  Bond and Kissy Suzuki escape the volcano and end up in a raft furthering international relations when a British submarine surfaces underneath them.

This film was always one of my favourite Bonds when I was a kid.  I think I loved the whole scale of it, with Bond, normally the lone wolf being helped by Tiger's ninja school as they storm Blofeld's hidden lair inside a volcano.  Of course looking back on it some aspects of it have not aged well.  For example there is the section where they have to disguise Bond as a Japanese man to sneak him onto the island.  Not only is he about a foot taller than anyone else but the transformation process is about as convincing as the valmorphisation technique used in Team America!  You could almost call the film "You Onry Rive Twice"!
But the casual racism aside, and why not since they are fine with sexism too, this is still a cracking Bond film and the first one to take the idea that if Bond fails then the fate of the world is at stake since World War III could break out.  Damn these superpowers and their nuclear weapons.
I would also put this film joint first in terms of influence on the Austin Powers series.

James Bond, but not Sean Connery, will return in June in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

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