The Man with the Golden Gun

The Man with the Golden GunSynopsis: James Bond has been marked for death, and he’ll need all his lethal instincts and seductive charm to survive in this action-packed adventure! Roger Moore returns as Agent 007 and faces off in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). Featuring a wild automobile chase through Bangkok and Bond’s stunning confrontation with an entire martial-arts school, The Man With the Golden Gun delivers nonstop excitement!

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

The Man with the Golden Gun

Date of viewing: June 6, 2013

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Opening credits

The Thorn: 6.5 – I like the introduction to Scaramanga and Nick Nack, but I wish that the whole hall of mirrors segment were more credible; for instance, Christopher Lee slowly sliding down a ramp to reach his gun made him appear more like a senior than like Bond’s equal. As for the opening credits, they were uninspired, dull. I liked seeing the golden gun and all the nudity, though. Sex and violence… who would have guessed that I am such a Neanderthal?

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The idea to project content over a liquid surface was good, but the end result was not: the reflections are too fuzzy.

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Story
The Thorn: 6.5 – I like the concept: Bond is on the hunt for Scaramanga because he’s been threatened and he figures that he’d turn the tables in his favour by hunting down his hunter. The backdrop of the energy crisis is also interesting – it was topical then, and it remains topical now. But after setting up these elements, the script sleepwalks its way from one scene to the next, not even making an effort to be logical.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The idea is good: Bond has to hunt and defeat a professional assassin.

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Banter
The Thorn: 5.5 -Strangely, the film starts off with a few choice zingers courtesy of Moore, and some great exchanges with M, but it grinds to a halt soon thereafter – after which Bond tosses unbelievably uninspired line after the other, smugly assuming that he’s being funny when in fact he’s a total bore. Double-oh-yaaaaaawn.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Plenty.

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Villains
The Thorn: 6.5 – Scaramanga is awesome. If Lee had been more on top of his game, he’d be by far the best villain of the series. Still, to me, no one could have done this role justice other than Lee; he’s got the intensity, the charisma, and the intelligence for it. But then there’s Nick Nack, possibly the worst villain of the series. He’s simply not a credible threat. Watching Bond duke it out with Nick Nack was totally undignified, a major embarrassment.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – I think the concept here was to throw Bond against an evil twin version of himself. Scaramanga is supposed to be athletic, smart, to have refined and expensive taste, and to use plenty of gadgets. Christopher Lee has an evil charisma and looks smart, but is not an athlete (nor is Moore).
I like that Nick Nack, Scaramanga’s sidekick, helps him in his training by hiring other assassins to kill him (probably eliminating competition at the same time). However this concept feels like the relationship between inspector Clouseau and Cato, his sidekick, who is instructed to attack his master at any time for training. Because of that, it makes it hard for me to consider this aspect of the movie seriously (and the fact that Lee is not the great athlete he’s supposed to be).

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Bond Girls
The Thorn: 7.0 – You wants pretty, vacuous ladies? You gots, pretty vacuous ladies! Maud Adams brings class to the film, but her character is weak and lacking fire. Then there is Brit Ekland, who can’t act herself out of a box, staring like a dumfounded doe most of the time. Her Mary Goodnight is ditzy and has serious self-esteem issues – but she has a very nice figure, for what that’s worth. As does the belly dancer at the beginning of the film. Yum! And Chu Mi? She’s unforgettable! I’d rather if she were called Tung Mi or Gum Mi, but I wouldn’t say no to a little nibble.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Andrea is hot. Even though she’s the reason why Bond hunts Scaramanga, she doesn’t appear enough in the movie. Agent Goodnight is clueless. Why are women agents in Bond movies so clueless and are given weird names?

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Gadgets
The Thorn: 6.5 – Mega points for the golden gun itself, even if there’s no way that it would work in real life – it’s just that cool. But I have to dock the film for the fake nipple, which was too jokey a gimmick and also looked fake as heck. Superfluous papilla? More like ridiculous papilla!
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The villains have all the gadgets in this movie: transformer gun, flying car, secret lair with a giant laser gun, etc. The idea of the transformer gun is interesting; it’s made of multiple familiar objects (pen, lighter, cigarette case, etc). However the gun made of those parts looks really ugly and is not convincing as a weapon.

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Vehicles
The Thorn: 4.0 -It’s all pretty standard fare, except for Scaramanga’s brittle-looking flying car. This is stupid beyond belief: in the time it takes to install the wings and other apparatus, he would have been able to board a personal jet and flown circles around Bond. Plus there’s no reason why he would want to keep his otherwise forgettable AMC car! But I suppose that the producers wanted to give AMC yet another chance to show off their wares; they must have paid a fortune for the omnipresent product placement!
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – The flying car is cool, but not practical.

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Locales
The Thorn: 8.5 – Thailand looks fantastic; this is my favourite setting of all the Bond films thus far – and perhaps of the whole series. The island that Scaramanga lives in are absolutely lovely, even though they make for cramped living quarters. Hong Kong is also really nice, but it’s mostly Scaramanga’s and Hai Fat’s residences that impressed me. What lovely, sprawling dens! Oh, if only I were rich and powerful…
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The islands of the Khao Phing Kan archipelago are really nice. The rest is ok.

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Stunts
The Thorn: 9.0 – Okay, let’s forget the fact that the martial arts in this picture are risible – especially Roger Moore’s part in those sequences. What’s important is that Moore does his own hand-to-hand combat, and did a decent job of it in the Beirut cabaret. After his weak outing in the last film, he impressed me here. But, mostly, one has to give major props to the stuntman who did the bridge stunt with the car – not only did he pull it off, but he did it in one take! Amazing!
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – This movie has the best car stunt I ever seen. A car jumps off a bridge, do a corkscrew flip in the air and lands perfectly on the other side. Its too bad that the scene is ruined by some weird cartoonish sound effect.

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Soundtrack
The Thorn: 7.5 – While even John Barry disliked his contribution to the picture, I think that it creates the needed suspense and it has nice Asian flavours peppering it. It’s not his greatest, but it’s good. As for the theme song, it’s a totally suitable Bond theme, even though it’s nothing special; Lulu does a serviceable faux-Shirley Bassey.
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Absent as last movie.

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Best Bond moment
The Thorn: ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ doesn’t have much going for it, but there are three moments that I find relatively notable: 1) the conversation between Bond and M at the very beginning, 2) the car stunt on the twisty bridge, 3) the moment that we see Bond and Scaramanga, back-to-back, preparing for a duel.
The Horrible Dr. B: My favorite aspect of the movie is how Scaramanga uses the parts of his gun; he always travel with them and use them constantly; he takes notes, offer cigarettes, etc. And I like how quickly he can assemble them into the gun.

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Worst Bond moment
The Thorn: There are so many to choose from, but here are the most awful moments for me: 1) when Bond tries to escape his sumo captor by squeezing his buttocks, 2) when Bond gets saved by two karate-chopping schoolgirls 3) when Goodnight activates the laser with her bum, completely oblivious as though her butt was detached from her body 4) the twisty sound effect that was added to the car stunt, effectively reducing its awesomeness to a joke. Only in the ’70s…
The Horrible Dr. B: Agent Hip rescues Bond from the dojo but takes off without him while still being chased.

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Overall impression
The Thorn: 5.0 – It’s funny, but I recalled hating this movie more than I did this time around; I thought it was the low point of the series and, while it’s likely the low point of Moore’s tenure, Connery’s done worse. Actually, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ would have been better as a Connery vehicle: the first 1/3 of the picture was half-decent, and I kept imagining how much better it would have been with the charismatic Connery instead of the campy Moore. But even Connery couldn’t have saved the next 2/3 of the picture, which are incredibly tedious and sometimes beyond absurd. It has a terrific premise but ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ goes for kooky and chop-socky, losing steam gradually to the point that I stopped caring. Plus it has probably the most irritating henchman and Bond Girl of the series.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Unfortunately this movie is falling short of what it was meant to be: it is a physical movie involving “Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu” fighting. However, beside Moore and Lee not being athletes, the kung fu fighting skill portrayed is lame (except for Agent Hip’s nieces who are totally kick-ass). If Moore and Lee were replaced by actors that can handle the physical parts, like Connery and Lazenby, then the movie would have been much better.
The movie should have been called “The man with 3 nipples”; the movie has nothing to do with gold; its just a lame marketing attempt to rip-off Goldfinger.
I like Moore’s Bond in this movie, he does more investigation than usual, and he plays a rougher Bond than his previous movie.

James Bond will return inThe Spy Who Loved Me

One response to “The Man with the Golden Gun

  1. Pingback: Live and Let Die | thecriticaleye·

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