007 in 23: Assignment #005- You Only Live Twice

ASSIGNMENT #005: You Only Live Twice (1967)

As an American spacecraft disappears in orbit above Earth by a mysterious craft, the Americans are quick to blame the Soviets, but British intelligence finds out that spacecraft landed somewhere along the coast of Japan. They inform the Americans and Soviets their top man is on the job, as we see 007 in bed with a gorgeous woman as always, only to be killed in ‘action’. the papers announce his death as a British Naval Commander who has passed on and his body is lowered into the ocean and Bond is laid to rest once and for all. The end of the greatest franchise of all time and the beloved suave character we rooted for.

Who are they kidding? Bond is very much alive. MI6 sets up the eloborate ploy to allow 007 not to be interrupted while investigating who exactly is taking the spacecrafts and all signs seem to point to that sleazy group of scoundrels that is SPECTRE. They simply pick him up at the bottom of the sea, transfer him to a sub, and voila, instant rebirth. Bond enters Japan and is helped by Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), the assistant to Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurō Tamba), head of the Japanese secret service, and Aki leads him to MI6 operative Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray). Bond meets with Henderson who delivers evidence about the craft stealing the other crafts, but is suddenly killed by an unknown assailant. Bond hunts and kills him and gets into a getaway car head to Osato Chemicals. Bond enters, fight a random mook, and steal documents that may lead to what the craft and plan is. Aki picks 007 and flee in a subway station, falls through a trapdoor and is greeted by Tanaka himself, sitting villainous on a chair, but luckily, he is on James’ side. The next day, Bond meets up with Osato (Teru Shimada) who orders his secretary, Helga Brandt (Karin Dor), to kill Bond as they are SPECTRE agents. Bond enters a gunfight, wins and tracks down a new lead at a shipping dock. Unfortunatly, Bond gets knocked out and kidnapped by Helga (he gets kidnapped more than Princess Peach now, I swear.)

He decides to use his ‘head’ and please her to get out of her hair. As Tanaka and Bond investigate futher, they learn that SPECTRE is indeed behind the disappearances. Just in the nick of time, Q comes to show off the new gadgets and Bond’s little girl, a toy helicopter which Bond uses to engage in a mid-air battle and figures that the SPECTRE base is nearby on a remote island. Meanwhile, SPECTRE captures a Soviet spacecraft, making tensions between America and the Soviet Russia even greater than before. In order to be on the island, Bond trains with ninjas, disguises as a Japanese man and marry Tanaka’s student, Kissy Sazuki (she isn’t named til the credits, an odd Bond first), despite Aki wanting to be the blushing bride. Sadly, Bond’s love of the film, Aki, is killed in an attempted assassination of Bond. Suzuki and Bond investigate the volcano and discover the lair is the volcano and he slips inside ready to disrupt SPECTRE’s plan of framing the Soviets in another spacecraft hijacking. Bond goes in by stealing an astronaut suits, ready to go to space (slow down, this isn’t Moonraker), but Blofeld discovers him. Bond and Blofeld finally meet face to face, revealing the hidden face of the cat petting villain himself.

Ernst Starvos Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) is ready and willing to kill Bond. Bond tricks Blofeld to open the hatch and the ninjas enter and take down all of Blofeld’s men. Bond, as chaos ensues, fights Blofeld’s bodygaurd, Hans, throws him into a pool of pirahna fish, destroys the spacecraft with a self destruct button, and saves the entire world from a nuclear holocaust. Not only does he use self-destruct on the spacecraft, but on the entire base as him, Tanaka, some ninjas, and Kissy leave and flee to safety via submarine. How does it end? You should already know.

After the mess that was Thunderball, You Only Live Twice is a nice refresher on what made the first three fantastic, even if it can be a bit over the top. Sean Connery as Bond, there is nothing more to say. The man is James Bond and he knows it. This was supposed to be his final feature until Diamonds are Forever, but more on that when we get to there. The women in this film are fantastic and some of the best. Aki is a great addition and gives a great performance of one of the closest to being Bond’s girlfriend since Tatiana Romanova from From Russia with Love. Blofeld is a fantastic reveal and played very well and how I pictured, menacing yet calm. The moments I loved from this film are fantastic, from the helicopter fight scene to the climax at the base, it is all awesome. Bond fighting the random mook at the Osato building might rank up their with one of the best fights in the series. The plot is ridiculous  but somehow the genius Roald Dahl made it all work. Yes, Roald Dahl, writer of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches wrote this feature and it shows. The one element I wish they did improved on was to focus a bit more on the tension that would loom between the States and Russia, but that would probably make the movie more complicated than it already is. Overall, I enjoyed this film very much.

The theme song for this film I absolutely loved. Nancy Sinatra’s voice is gorgeous, seductive, and smooth. It is a treat to listen to, even out of the film itself.

Assignment Status: 4.75 out of 5

Next time, Connery is out and Lazenby is in as SPECTRE plans to declare world domination again by sterilizing the world’s food supply through the ‘angels of death’. Time to head to Switzerland for skiing, humor, and to face Blofeld once more.

Next Assignment: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

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