You Only Live Twice
- Lewis Gilbert
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Wednesday, October 06, 2004
The plot has SPECTRE hijacking American and Russian spaceships in order to create international tension, always for the sake of their own organization. The crafts are believed to be taken to Japan, so Agent 007 James Bond (Connery) is sent there to investigate. Bond is welcomed less than warmly, but finally he meets his Japanese allies: Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) and Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba). The first half of the film is all investigation and shocking truths, and it’s all sumptuous, elegant, and funny.
However, as it happens with many Bond films, the second half leans toward the implausible. The spaceships turn out to be put inside a volcano, conveniently adapted as a SPECTRE base, and Bond is transformed into a Japanese ninja, in something of an attempt to distract his enemies. As the film takes this direction, it quickly becomes a kind of joke, but it’s still capable of delighting the audience at every turn. Plus, there’s the long-expected unmasking of SPECTRE’s Number One, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance), anticlimactic to some, unforgettable to others, but interesting to all.
This film is sometimes regarded as the “Japanese Bond”, and isn’t usually taken seriously. Connery announced this would be his last (though eventually it wasn’t), and I think it was a wise move at the moment, as the series was apparently taking a prominently comic turn that distanced more and more from Ian Fleming’s literary creation. If there’s something that continuously puts this film on the good quality side, it’s its true sense of romance, and its lack of sexism. First it’s Aki, then Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), Bond’s “front” wife; both pretty, intelligent, and dynamic, and often capable of saving Bond’s butt.
I do like this film, and at watching it, I hoped they’d take the best elements of it for the next one, instead of the exact opposite. My wish was granted in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
“The things I do for England.”
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