Everybody was kung fu fighting in 1974. The song “Kung Fu Fighting” dominated the radio. Chopsocky epics ruled the drive-ins and grindhouses. Kung Fu brought the martial action to American TVs. What would the gadget loving James Bond do in the wake of this hot fist fighting action? The Man with the Golden Gun sent the worlds most famous spy deep into Asia to bring British sensibilities to Eastern philosophizing. Roger Moore cinched on a karate gi to tackle a pack of Bruce Lee wannabes.
Roger Moores sophomore outing as Bond took him hunting a legendary hitman that sent a golden bullet engraved with 007 to MI6 headquarters. The quippy bon vivant Moore perfected on The Persuaders TV series dominated his portrayal of 007. He fired as many zingers as bullets during a mission. Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) hid out in Asia between his hired assassinations that cost a cool million. His Golden Gun wasnt just any old weapon. It could be broken down and disguised as ordinary objects. He didnt have to worry about airport security guards. Although he rarely had to buy a ticket since his car transformed into an airplane.
Big henchmen can come in small packages. In 1974 the world went nuts for Herve Villechaize. The diminutive French actor played Nick Nack, the trusty butler of the legendary hitman. He wandered about a lush compound on an exotic Phuket island scheming ways to kill his boss. A few years after The Man with the Golden Gun, hed find himself assuming the same role on the wildly popular Fantasy Island. But he never tried to have Mr. Rourke plugged. Herves the last colorful henchman in the Bond series with his sweet charm and ruthless manner.
The script for The Man with the Golden Gun cant stick with Bond and Scaramanga pursing each other. Theres got to be a secret industrial complex to explode in the third act. Since this was produced during the era of the original energy crisis, the subplot involves a major breakthrough in solar energy. The innovative solar energy power plant powered the hitmans hideout. It also amped up a vicious laser cannon. Bond must take out this evil weapon and destroy the power plant. The sci-fi element can be forgiven since Britt Ekland wore a bikini while messing with the technology.
The car chase between Bond and Scaramongo through Bangkok should be the considered one of the best ever shot. Theres tons of nail biting action as the cars swerve and speed through the traffic. This could have been better than the ice and snow action of On Her Majestys Secret Service. What ruined the shot at greatness was the return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James). Hes the redneck comic relief in Live and Let Die. He was funny when the action was in the bayous of Louisiana. On the streets of Bangkok, Peppers an embarrassment. He hoots, hollers and unloads racial slurs on the natives. You cant enjoy the thrill ride. Whats even worse was the stunt that should be the crowning glory of this chase became ruined in post. Bonds car performed a complete mid-air spiral while jumping over a broken bridge. In the middle of this astounding event, theres a wacky whistle on the soundtrack. It destroyed the tension of the stunt. As much as I hate altering films, Id support having Pepper digitally erased from that car and the whacky whistle muted. The fight sequences veered toward the comic. During a battle with a Sumo wrestler, Bond grabbed a handful of ass and then applied an atomic wedgie. Not the most sophisticated of fighting techniques.
The Man with the Golden Gun is still a fun adventure. Moore and Lee are equals during their lethal chases. Herve steals the show with his antics. The golden gun and the flying car are gadgets youd want to buy from the Sharper Image catalog. The double whammy of Maud Adams and Britt Ekland as the lusty Bond girls incites involuntary drool. Theres plenty of kung fu fighting amongst the gun shots. The Man with the Golden Gun hits the entertainment bullseye more than it misses.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer really brings out the detail and beauty of the islands of Phuket. Youll feel like youre running a film print on your HD TV. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD Master and Dolby Mono. The mixes make you feel the bullets and the hand chops. There are Spanish and French dubs in Dolby 5.1. The subtitles are in English, French, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin.
Audio Commentaries include David Naylor moderating memories from director Guy Hamilton, actors Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Soon-Talk Oh, production designer Peter Murton, cinematographer Oswald Morris and continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck. Roger Moore gets a solo track to discuss his time against Herve.
The Russell Harty Show (3:00) has Roger Moore and Herve Villechaize on this English talkshow. This is a montage of their answers without us getting to see Russell Harty. Herve talks about being in never produced version of Dune..
On Location with The Man With The Golden Gun (1:31) is 16mm footage shot on a Hong Kong street. Michael Wilson narrates when the stars arent chatting to the camera.
Girls Fighting (3:32) is the dailies of the school girls kicking ass. Michael Wilson points out when a stunt move goes bad.
American Thrill Show Stunt Film (5:17) is a vintage documentary made by the guys who did the car stunts. They explain the science behind the Astro Spiral stunt. Check out the computer animation that was state of the art in the early 70s. Theres a commentary track from JM Productions president Jay Milligan.
Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks (5:22) is an audio of the director talking about his career. How he went from being a tea boy to calling the shots on Goldfinger. They have a montage of production stills of Hamilton on the Bond sets.
007 Mission Control allows you to see clips covering the topics of “007,” “Women,” “Allies,” “Villains,” “Mission Combat Manual,” “Q Branch” and “Exotic Locations.”
Inside The Man With The Golden Gun (31:00) discusses how Ian Flemings final novel came out a year after his death. The producers wanted to shoot the film before On Her Majestys Secret Service,. The location didnt work out so they switched up. All the major players get their say. The story about elephant shoes is memorable.
Double-O Stunts (28:39) pays tribute to the daring men who do the work of super agents. Bob Simmons is the stunt coordinator who gets legendary status since he played Bond in the iconic gun barrel opening title shot.
Theatrical Trailers (5:15) has a teaser trailer that lets us know what women want for Christmas. Theres a longer trailer that gives us all the big moments.
TV Broadcasts (2:01) has two TV spots tempting the folks at home to sample the action on the big screen.
Radio Broadcast (2:03) has three radio advertisements letting us know this is the greatest Bond adventure of all.
Image Database is loaded with photos and other publicity artwork.
The Man with the Golden Gun keeps Roger Moores version of 007 as the tongue in cheek assassin. He never seems to sweat the situation. Christopher Lee and Herve Villechaize keep up their end of the badness even with the solar energy subplot. The Blu-ray image is once more a stunning affair. The bonus features allow you to fully enjoy the spiral car jump. This is worthy of upgrading your DVD.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM present The Man With The Golden Gun. Directed by: Guy Hamilton. Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Herve Villechaize, Maud Adams and Britt Ekland. Written by: Tom Mankiewicz and Richard Maibaum. Running time: 125. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: May 12, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: christopher lee, Fantasy Island, James Bond