Tuesday, November 12, 2013

BOND 5: You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Year 1967

You Only Live Twice is another fantastic entry in the ever expanding James Bond series, which once again features the further adventures of Sean Connery in the iconic role of 007. Abundantly tongue and cheek and extremely entertaining, the film features a plethora of traditional Bond gadgets and exploits as the familiar trappings descend upon the unfamiliar setting of Japan. Entirely centralized on its Asian surroundings and aesthetics, You Only Live Twice delights in its exotic locales, interesting characters, and stylized espionage antics. As Bond films go, this fifth entry of the series is a hell of a lot of fun.

The film begins with a space hijacking when a U.S. space shuttle is overtaken by a mysterious spacecraft during a routine mission. With the ship and crew gone without a trace, MI6 assigns super secret agent James Bond to the case. After faking his own death, Bond follows the traces of the unknown spaceship to the Sea of Japan, where he goes undercover as a Japanese man in order to infiltrate an illusive organization that seems to be behind this nefarious plot. Paired up with a beautiful woman named Kissy and lost in an unfamiliar land, the two dive headlong into an intriguing mystery where life and death hang in the balance.

Sean Connery once again takes on the role of James Bond, marking his fifth go at the iconic character. By this point there is no question that Connery is Bond, as he simply embodies the character to perfection. His mannerisms and sarcastic quips are embedded into the fabric of this fictionalized character and Connery just seems to effortlessly bring the agent to life. In this particular instance, Connery is handed the tricky role of disguising as an Asian man, and even though the sheer concept and execution of this is ridiculous in all senses of the word, he still manages to make it entertaining in that silly and over the top sort of way. Possibly a tad too strange for the Bond series, the unusual character switch is ultimately hypnotic as you're not quite sure where else the film will dare to go. In all its absurdity, Connery is still able to make the role of James Bond shine like never before, maintaining that same sense of awe and allure over the ever enduring secret agent.

Mie Hama plays the role of Kissy, Bond's Asian aid and love interest. Hama is astoundingly cute and extremely watchable as the aptly named character, exuding a rather impressive presence in one of her first English speaking break out performances. Having plaid a similar role in two other spy-centric films Key of Keys and Ironfinger, Hama is a natural as Kissy and she just simply gels with the genre. With her beautiful looks and hypnotic screen presence, she makes for a perfect addition to the ever impressive line up of Bond girls. Another one of my favorite spy actresses is Karin Dor, and she makes a brief but memorable appearance as Helga Brandt, a kinky villainess who proves to be a thorn in the side of Bond in more ways then one. Strikingly beautiful, Karin is a vision, and she gives another layer of enjoyment to this already enjoyable Bond entry. As for the main villain of the piece, Donald Pleasence takes on the task as Blofeld, the leader of the illusive organization known as SPECTRE. An iconic character actor in his own right, Pleasence simply nails the role bringing that demented and wholly realized persona that only he can bring to the table. Cold and collective, Pleasence brings another element into the mix which solidifies You Only Live Twice as pure unadulterated and enjoyable entertainment.

As usual for a Bond entry, You Only Live Twice has a fantastic array of beautiful locations and picturesque vistas which perfectly capture the exotic atmosphere which has made the Bond franchise the phenom that it is today. Basking in all the visual wonders that Japan can muster, the film relies heavily on the potent vistas that this extremely breathtaking country has to offer, spending a great deal of effort focusing on the culture shock and diverse differences between Eastern and Western cultures. From sumo wrestling matches, to neon cityscapes, to expansive rolling hills, to pristine coastal shores, the film soaks up all the visuals it can handle as we are swept away in this most awesome of adventures.

The exploits of James Bond are as intriguing as the visual delights of the production. Armed with an assortment of gadgets and uncanny abilities, Bond bursts onto the scene in a series of memorable movie moments that will just tickle that espionage itch. One of the high points of the film is the compact helicopter named Little Nellie. One of Bond's outstanding little nifty gadgets, this interesting aerial vehicle is one for the record books and the film gives a great movie moment as it shows Bond scouring the country side, high above the scattered islands along Japan's coast, as he searches for the hidden SPECTRE lair. It's a truly beautifully shot sequence and one that is exceptionally satisfying. Another wonderful aspect of the film is the various locations and sets that the production throws our way. One in particular is the volcanic lair of SPECTRE and Blofeld. The volcano base is extremely outstanding in its sheer grandeur and presence and makes for the perfect location for the final battle which simply closes the film in the most explosive of ways. All in all this Bond entry is one that surely satisfies while proudly maintaining the quality that Bond films are known for.

You Only Live Twice is a ridiculously fun entry in the series, marking the first time that the Bond films embarked in Eastern territory and cultures. Saturated in the customs and visuals of the land, this fifth entry beautifully presents an eye opening experience that surely reflects the grandeur of the series as a whole while never straying from the traditional aspects of the genre.

Filled with wonderfully animated characters and equally energetic set pieces, the film surges with outstanding moments which perfectly match up against the iconic wonder that is Bond. Connery gives his usual outstanding performance, while newcomer Mie Hama does a wonderful job as the beautiful Kissy, an excellent addition to the cast of Bond girls. Donald Pleasence makes for a respectable Blofeld as he gives that off kilter personality to the super villain which only he can generate. Amassed in an array of visual delights and expertly crafted sequences, You Only Live Twice is an extremely enjoyable ride. One that captures the magic of Bond and takes it to another level. This entry.....

Looks like someone had a little accident.

Sean Connery.... Man about town.

Well hello there.

Keep your eyes on the road assholes!

Who wants the first can of whoop ass?

Something kinky is going down.

How would you like to tune in to Tokyo James?

Dear diary.... James Bond is awesome.


Bang, Bang Sean! Bang, Bang!

You mind paying attention and flying the plane you crazy bitch.

Is this your card?

I think he gets the point.

What the hell happened to your pants?!?!?!

Get off that ceiling you weirdo!

Mr. Wiskers doesn't like you.

It's raining men! Hallelujah it's raining men!

So you aren't going to put out? Get out of my raft!

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