“You see, Mr Bond, like all great artists I want to create one indisputable masterpiece: the death of 007”
Well let’s focus on the positive, Live and Let Die was good, right? How about that bit where Bond fought Tee Hee? That was awesome, wasn’t it? Or the bit where the bus went under the bridge, pretty great huh? But sadly today’s review is not Live and Let Die. Today’s review is The Man with the Golden Gun and, yeah, it’s not one of Bond’s best.
First up, the story; a letter comes for Bond from Scaramanga and it contains a bullet with 007 on it. Bond goes to all of the usual exotic locations trying to track down the famous hitman before he’s assassinated himself. The plot’s not too bad actually, and the locations are quite good. Beirut is an odd choice but it looks great, as does Bangkok. Roger Moore is still great as Bond (although some may disagree) but his quips miss as much as they hit. The really great thing about this movie, the reason to watch it in fact, is the villain Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee. Now Christopher Lee is possibly the most menacing man ever, and he is just brilliant in this role. He’s the first person you feel is actually Bond’s equal, and his golden gun is a great gadget. He is a typical villain in some respects, strange almost-deformity in the form of a third nipple (I know, I know) the outlandish backstory (something about a life in a travelling circus, murder and elephants) a cool henchman called Nick Nack and his own private island which doubles as a circus funhouse.
Not all characters are good however. The Bond girl, Mary Goodnight, is utterly useless and in fact is often detrimental to Bond’s mission. She makes things more complicated on a number of occasions and almost gets him killed once or twice. Another strange character is Nick Nack. He’s meant to be the henchman in the same vein as Tee Hee or Oddjob but he; well he’s a “midget” (Bond’s words not mine). He’s fun at first then it just becomes sort of sad, which is a shame because Herve Villechaize is great. In the last part of the movie, as Bond and Goodnight sale away on Scaramanga’s boat, they’re attacked by a stowaway Nick Nack. The fight scene itself isn’t bad but ultimately it’s just Bond beating up a midget. The film ends with Nick Nack tied up on the deck of the ship as the camera zooms out. This is the shot they end the movie on. THAT is how they want you to remember this movie.
The thing that kills this movie most of all is the humour. It just doesn’t work for the majority of the time. The worst offender is Sheriff J.W. Pepper; no one’s favourite sort of racist Louisiana cop is back from Live and Let Die! Actually, I liked him in that; he didn’t ruin the action scene he was in. Sadly that isn’t the case here. Bond steals a car to chase down Scaramanga and Nick Nack and J.W. is in the passenger seat. This is a kickass chase scene with an AMAZING jump at the end. Seriously, that jump over the bridge is stunning. But, if you can accept the fact that Bond and J.W. were in the same part of the world at exactly the same time, J.W. almost ruins it. He’s much more over the top and annoying than he was in the previous film. It’s sad because his shtick might be funny in another situation, but not in a Bond film. That’s the problem, I don’t mind my Bond films having funny moments but this film becomes a pure action comedy and it’s all the worse for it.
At the end of the day, I’ll watch any Bond film and enjoy the hell out of it. This was no different, I was never bored throughout. The duel between Scaramanga and Bond on his private island/funhouse is actually very intense and enjoyable and the sets remain exquisite. But sadly the humour usually misses and some bits are almost painful to watch. On the plus side, we never hear from J.W. Pepper again after he’s arrested with Bond in Bangkok, so we can just assume he was shanked in a Taiwanese prison after the events of the film.
Up next – The Spy Who Loved Me
Reviewed by Jack 😛