007 in 23: Assignment #009- The Man with the Golden Gun

ASSIGNMENT #009: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

James Bond is called in by M as a golden bullet surfaces at MI6 displaying James Bond’s code ‘007’. It is thought to be from famed assassin and proud third nipple person, Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher ‘Dracula’ Lee), who is in possession of a golden gun he uses to intimidate his enemies. Despite this, M sends bond out on a mission to find a scientist named Gibson helping to resolve the energy crisis with solar energy, but Bond decides to find Scaramanga on his own. Bond sets out on his mission and meets Scaramanga’s mistress, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), in Hong Kong. Bond follows her to the Bottoms Up Club, the location of Scaramanga’s next assassination target, Gibson. With Gibson dead, Scaramanga’s henchmidget (a phrase I never though I type) Knick Knack (Herve Villechaize) steals a competent of Gibson’s solar plant known as the Solex agitator. Bond, ready to nabbed him, is taken away by Lieutenant Hip (Soon-Tek Oh) to meet with M and Q in a secret headquarters located within the wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which is what the stereotypical vision of a clown college will look like. M tells bond that to focus on getting the agitator back and kill Scaramanga while doing so.

Bond heads to Bangkok to meet an entrepreneur named Hai Fat (Richard Loo), who may be in connection with the murder of Gibson. As Bond poses as Scaramanga, it is quickly ruined because Scaramanga, one jump ahead of the lawman, is already there. Bond gets captured, surpassing Fleischer Studios’ Lois Lane’s record number of captures, and placed in Fat’s dojo engaging in poorly done martial arts action. He escapes and is reunited with his assistant from earlier, Mary Goodnight (Brit Ekland). Fat is killed by Scarmanga and takes his place as chairman and takes the Solex. Anders returns as Bond is about to get busy with Goodnight to reveal she sent the bullet to Bond to kill Scaramanga once and for all and promises to hand over the Solex at a boxing match the next day. At the boxing match, Anders is killed and Bond has a chat with Scaramanga and see the Solex on the floor. Bond grabs, hands it to Hip, and delivers it to Goodnight. Goodnight is capture trying to place a homing device in Scaramanga’s vehicle. Bond gets wind off this, steals a showroom car that has the return of the resident Scrappy-Doo of the series, Sheriff J.W. Pepper. Bond and Pepper go on to chase Scaramanga with Pepper who can’t shut his trap throughout, destroying the chase’s excitement. Scaramanga escapes in a flying car and J.w. Pepper is arrested by Thai Police and there was much rejoicing by the Bond fandom.

Bond takes a seaplane to Scaramanga’s island hideout, where Scaramanga introduces himself to Bond, has Goodnight present with him, presents his newly acquired solar plant, and his high powered laser that uses the power of the Sun to destroy and uses Bond plane as its first target. Sacaramanga challenges Bond to a duel without glove slapping him and Bond shoots first, only to find Scaramanga has vanished and entered his funhouse shooting gallery. Bond enters to find Scaramanga posing as a mannequin of himself and surprises Scaramanga by simply shooting and killing him. Goodnight acciddently disrupts the solar plant’s balance by tossing a henchman in liquid helium like an extra ingredient in soup. Bond gets the Solex just in time as the facility blows up and Goodnight and Bond escape on a Chinese Junk. While getting settled, Knick Knack appears to kill Bond, but Bond quickly packs him up and a suitcase and tosses him out. The rest is history.

It is easy to see why this is declared one of the worst Bond films, but it is not all that terrible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awful, but it does have some elements that save it. Roger Moore as Bond for a second time is much better than his first time since you can see him finally getting the swing of things and really letting loose by having a ball. Christopher Lee as Scaramanga is quite intimidating and unexpected since Scaramanga goes back in forth from being a man you just want to have a beer with to a man who you want to run away from. Christopher Lee is usually always phenomenal in any film and this proves to be no exception. Muad Adams as Andrea Anders is a great addition and plays the role quite well, but still lacks in certain areas due to her lack of screen time. Brit Ekland, on the other hand, is not that great, but it isn’t because of her performance, but how her role was written. You can tell the writers wanted to make a strong female, but failed and is quite awful. All she did was knock out one guy and even that screwed something up. If you want a good performance out of her, see 1973’s  The Wicker Man, released a year before this feature and also has Christopher Lee as an even creepier man who lives on an island. Herve Villechaize looks like he was having the time of his life because he preforms Knick Knack charismatic but deadly child who just happens to be in a man’s body.

The things that bring the film down are probably what you might expect from bad James Bond films, which means the action and plot is just awful. The kung fu scenes are poorly handled since Roger Moore looks like he has no idea what is going on and the chases are ruined by Sheriff Pepper. I know I did light cursing in previous reviews, but this character is the only one deserving of a great big harsh curse of ‘fuck you’ for single handily destroying an entire film. Not even Jar Jar Binks in Episode I can measure up to what this character did. I’m sure the actor Clifton James is a perfectly fine actor in other films and a nice guy, but in this series, he has none of my respect whatsoever. The plot is terrible because is the basic ‘giant laser, destroy the world’ plot that gets very tiring after a while and it’s boring by now. It is one of my most hated plot devices in film and in a James Bond film, it just brings it down a peg even more.

As for the theme song by Lulu, I have no idea what to say about it really. It’s odd, but catchy, but far from being a true classic like Bassey’s tunes or the instrumental ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. I didn’t really care much for it and it’s pretty low on the list (don’t fret, the worst one doesn’t happen till 2002).

The Man with the Golden Gun is a golden mess with a tired plot, weak action and adventure, but filled with performances that may make it worth a sit, but only once.

Assignment Status: 2.75 out of 5

Next time, Bond must take on a man by the name of Stromberg ready to destroy the world and build a underwater civilization while teaming up with Russian agent Anya Amasova as they fall for one another. Get ready for underwater cars, the debut of Jaws, and a film considered by Roger Moore as his best outing.

Next Mission: The Spy Who Loved Me

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