The Man with the Golden Gun

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In London, a golden bullet with James Bond’s code “007” etched into its surface is received by MI6. It is believed that it was sent by famed assassin Francisco Scaramanga, who uses a golden gun, to intimidate the agent. Because of the perceived threat to the agent’s life, M relieves Bond of a mission revolving around the work of a scientist named Gibson, thought to be in possession of information crucial to solving the energy crisis with solar power. Bond sets out unofficially to find Scaramanga.

After retrieving a spent golden bullet from a belly dancer in Beirut and tracking its manufacturer to Macau, Bond sees Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s mistress, collecting golden bullets at a casino. Bond follows her to Hong Kong and in her Peninsula Hotel room pressures her to tell him about Scaramanga, his appearance and his plans; she directs him to the Bottoms Up Club. The club proves to be the location of Scaramanga’s next ‘hit’, Gibson, from which Scaramanga’s dwarf henchman Nick Nack steals the “Solex agitator”, a key component of a solar power station. Before Bond can assert his innocence, however, Lieutenant Hip escorts him away from the scene, taking him to meet M and Q in a hidden headquarters in the wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth in the harbour. M assigns 007 to retrieve the Solex agitator and assassinate Scaramanga.

Bond then travels to Bangkok to meet Hai Fat, a wealthy Thai entrepreneur suspected of arranging Gibson’s murder. Bond poses as Scaramanga, but his plan backfires because Scaramanga himself is being hosted at Hai Fat’s estate. Bond is captured and placed in Fat’s dojo, where the fighters are instructed to kill him. After escaping with the aid of Lt. Hip and his nieces, Bond speeds away on a khlong along the river and reunites with his British assistant Mary Goodnight. Hai Fat is subsequently killed by Scaramanga, who replaces Fat as the “new Chairman of the board” and takes the Solex.

Anders visits Bond, revealing that she had sent the bullet to London and wants Bond to kill Scaramanga. In payment, she promises to hand the Solex over to him at a boxing venue the next day. At the match, Bond discovers Anders dead and meets Scaramanga. Bond spots the Solex on the floor and is able to smuggle it away to Hip, who passes it to Goodnight. Attempting to place a homing device on Scaramanga’s car, she is locked into the vehicle’s boot. Bond sees Scaramanga driving away and steals a showroom car to give chase, coincidentally with Sheriff J.W. Pepper seated within it. Bond and Pepper follow Scaramanga in a car chase across Bangkok, which concludes when Scaramanga’s car transforms into a plane, which flies him, Nick Nack and Goodnight to his private island.

Picking up Goodnight’s tracking device, Bond flies a seaplane into Red Chinese waters, under the Chinese radar, and lands at Scaramanga’s island. On arriving, Bond is welcomed by Scaramanga, who shows him the high-tech solar power plant he has taken over, the technology for which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. Whilst demonstrating the equipment, Scaramanga uses a powerful solar beam to destroy Bond’s plane.

Scaramanga then proposes a pistol duel with Bond on the beach; the two men later stand back to back and are ordered by Nick Nack to take twenty paces, but when Bond turns and fires, Scaramanga has vanished. Nick Nack leads Bond into Scaramanga’s Funhouse where Bond poses as a mannequin of himself: when Scaramanga walks by, Bond takes him by surprise and kills him. Goodnight, in waylaying a Scaramanga henchman into a pool of liquid helium, upsets the balance of the solar plant, which begins to go out of control. Bond retrieves the Solex unit just before the island explodes, and they escape unharmed in Scaramanga’s Chinese junk, later subduing Nick Nack who challenges them, having smuggled himself aboard.

REVIEW:

Returning to the Bond franchise, we have The Man with the Golden Gun, the film that is known was one of the worst in the series particularly because of its reliance on comedy. Personally, I like the comedic elements that were added in, despite the fact that Bond purists seem to have a major disdain for them, saying that they were a mistake. Aside from that, one has to wonder, what makes this worth watching besides that Bond name recognition?

What is this about?

With his sights set squarely on James Bond, the world’s deadliest assassin — Francisco Scaramanga — isn’t playing by anyone’s rules as their cat-and-mouse game of death takes the two from the Far East to Scaramanga’s island lair.

What did I like?

New Blood. Unless I missed something, there is no mention of SPECTRE in this film, and we get a brand new villain in Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga, who is a ruthless, mysterious assassin with a penchant for the overdramatic. I guess there was a time when Christopher Lee was a young man, and his youth did nothing but prove how far he has come since this film, in term of villainous roles. The guy doesn’t command the same amount of screen presence as he does when you seem him today, but when he appears, you pay attention, because this is a guy that will shoot you just as soon as have an elegant meal with you, and he’ll do so with his golden gun, as the title informs us.

Hideout. In these Bond films, there have been some impressive lairs, but Scaramanga island hideout is one that has to be pretty high up on the list. No, it isn’t anything super fancy or technologically advanced, but rather it is like a rich person’s dream home housed on an island, complete with many things that the maniacal assassin wishes for, including a fun house, in which he plays games with various opponents, controlled by his manservant.

Comic relief. As I mentioned in my opening, this is the Bond flick that seems to be, at least to my knowledge up to this point, the start of the cheesy, comedic Bond flicks. Returning from the previous Bond flick, Live and Let Die, Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper makes a funny cameo in a couple of scenes. Also, the bubble headed blonde assistant Bond has is the very definition of the slang word tomato. On the one hand, I was wondering why they even used her, but on the other hand, she was a nice change of pace from the usual Bond Girl.

What didn’t I like?

Buried. In everything that is going on with this film, the message about solar power and the energy crisis gets buried. Sure, the solar paneled machinations near the end brought it to the forefront, but for the majority of the film, only in passing is it even brought up, such as when we first see Bond and M tells him to take on the Scaramanga assignment. Maybe it is just me, but I felt this should have been a bit more included in the plot, even if Scaramanga wasn’t an environmental villain.

Theme. The previous 8 James Bond films have had memorable theme songs, be they instrumental or vocal. Once the opening credits begin, you know you are going to hear a musical masterpiece, unless you’re watching this film. This film doesn’t offer such greatness, as this theme sounds like some kind of soft disco that doesn’t really fit the film. It has its moments and is exciting enough, but pales in comparison to its predecessors and those that have yet to come in this franchise.

Bond girls. Another thing that didn’t impress me are the Bond girls. Now, don’t misunderstand me, these women are just as gorgeous as one would expect, but in comparison they just aren’t as curvy or sexy as one would expect. I liken this to expecting a thick, juicy steak, but instead getting leftover McDonald’s. I trust the level of Bond girl returns to the norm in the next film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

I was actually about to give up on the Bond franchise before watching The Man with the Golden Gun this evening. I just haven’t really been able to get into these films as much as I would like. Thankfully, my faith in Bond has been reestablished, as I was actually into this outing. Sure, some have labeled this as one of, if not the worst Bond flick, but I enjoyed it. Issues abound in it, but good golly is it fun. So, do I recommend it? Yes, I do. Maybe it isn’t a high recommendation, but it is worth a viewing or two.

4 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “The Man with the Golden Gun”

  1. […] Max Zorin that Bond has had to face. Wait, there was the one played by Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun. Excuse me for not remembering his character name at the moment. Walken gives a new brand of […]

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