Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The second Bond lives twice

You Only Live Twice (1967)
Starring: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Donald Pleasence, Tetsuro Tamba, Karin Dor, Mie Hama, Desmond Lleweland, and Charles Gray
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

With the Soviet Union and the United States blaming each other for mysteriously missing space capsules, war between the two superpowers seems imminent. However, British intelligence agent James Bond (Connery) tracks the real culprit behind the vanishing spacecraft to Japan. Here, he teams up with Japanese governmental ninjas (including the sexy Aki (Wakabayashi)) to put a stop to another evil plan set in motion by SPECTRE and Bond's nemesis, Blodfeld (Pleasence).

"You Only Live Twice" was a movie a ahead of its time, insofar as it has something of a 1980s-style action movie feel to it. Some of the action scenes go way over the top, and if you stop and think about them, they don't even make sense as they're unfolding in the movie. Plus, it's got ninjas in their jammies! Who knew such a thing was even allowed to be in movies before 1980?

However, the occasional lapses in logic are of no great consequence, as the film has so much else going for it. Connery gives a fine performance as Bond, composer John Barry turns our yet another excellent score, the film takes advantage of both the natural beauty of Japan as well as some of the myths around its culture, even while tearing others down, and one of the niftiest "secret lair" sets to ever appear in a Bond film.

Another point of interest is this was the first Bond movie where he teams with a female agent who truly is his match (Aki, played by the very lovely Akiko Wakabayashi. It is also the first time where there's a sense that genuine romance may be developing between Bond and woman. Of course, this is also the first manifestation of the "Bond Curse"--any woman he loves is bound to die.

A fun, solid entry in the James Bond series that's worth seeing by fans of 1960s spy films as well as lovers of action movies.

(If you're wondering why I mention the second Bond in this post's title, check out ththis review at "Shades of Gray".)

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