Tuesday, April 12, 2016

007 Movie Rewatch – You Only Live Twice (1967)

(This is a revised version of a Persona Paper post.)


An American spacecraft is in orbit and one of the astronauts goes out on a spacewalk. But then some bigger, unidentified spacecraft flies up. The front of it opens up and it swallows the smaller spacecraft, with the guy on the spacewalk getting cut off and drifting off to die. The Americans blame the Russians, but the British point out the craft landed somewhere near Japan.

Meanwhile, Bond is in Hong Kong where he is shot and “killed.” He is then buried at sea, but his body is picked up by divers and taken to a submarine where we find out that Bond had just faked his death to confuse his enemies. M is on the submarine and gives him his orders to go to Tokyo and make contact with their local agent Henderson. Bond is picked up by Aki and taken to Henderson. Henderson starts to tell Bond about who he thinks is behind this, when he’s killed.

Bond follows the killer and kills him. He then sees the getaway driver. Fortunately, the killer was wearing a mask, so Bond changes clothes, puts on the mask, and pretends to be injured.

The getaway driver takes him to the office of Mr. Osato of Osato Chemicals. He kills the driver and breaks into a safe and takes some documents.

Bond leaves the building and is picked up by Aki who takes him to Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service. They discover a photo of a ship in the documents, along with the message that the tourist who took the photo was killed for security.

Bond poses as a chemical buyer, and goes to meet Mr. Osato and his assistant/pilot/assassin Helga. Mr. Osato isn’t fooled, and orders Helga to kill Bond. Some guys try to shoot him down on the street, but Aki saves him.

Aki takes Bond to the dock where the ship is – discovering it is shipping rocket fuel – and they are attacked by the dockworkers. Aki gets away, but Bond is captured. He wakes up tied to a chair and being questioned by Helga. He tries to bribe her, and she seems okay with it, even sleeping with him. But the next day, she locks him into a small plane, bails out, and hopes he’ll die in the crash. But he manages to save himself.

Q shows up with a small, autogyro and Bond flies it around the island where the ship unloaded its cargo under cover of dark. There are some volcanoes, but Bond doesn’t see anything. Still, he’s attacked by some helicopters and shoots them all down.

At some point in all this, a Russian spacecraft is captured, and the Russians blame the Americans. The Americans deny everything, and state that if anything happens to their next space mission, they will consider it an act of war by Russia and launch nukes.

Osato and Helga meet with Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. He is disappointed in their failure to kill Bond, and dumps Helga into his piranha pool.

Tanaka has a small ninja army, and Bond wants to go to the island and find the base. But first, Tanaka has to train Bond as a ninja, and then make him look Japanese. Aki is there, but an assassination attempt on Bond misses and she dies.

The reason they need to make Bond look Japanese is that while the other ninjas will go to the island and hide, Bond will have to go to the fishing village there as the new husband of one of Tanaka’s agents on the island, Kissy. They go exploring and find that the lake inside the volcano isn’t real, but a metal roof hiding an underground base. Kissy goes back to lead Tanaka and the ninja’s there, while Bond goes in.

Bond finds the captured astronaut and cosmonauts and frees them. They then help him into a spacesuit and he tries to sneak onboard their rocket. But he doesn’t act like an astronaut, and Blofeld notices him and has him brought in. The rocket launches with SPECTRE astronauts instead heading for the American spacecraft. Apparently, the plan was for Blofeld to start a war between America and Russia for some other country.

Tanaka attacks and they are being killed but Bond opens the roof and there’s a big gun/ninja battle. Blofeld kills Osato and later goes to kill Bond but is stopped when Tanaka hits his hand with a star. Bond fights through the confusion to the control room and activates the SPECTRE spacecraft’s self-destruct before it can get to the American one. Blofeld activates the base’s self-destruct, and everyone else escapes the base and is rescued by submarine.


This movie was confusing to watch because I’ve seen other Bond movies. For example, when the divers picked up Bond’s body after his funeral, I thought they’d take him to some sunken ship that was a secret base, but instead they just took him to a submarine. The sunken ship hidden base is from The Man with the Golden Gun. When we meet Henderson, I recognized him as a Bond villain. So I was confused when he was killed. Turns out the actor, Charles Grey, would play Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever. Also, when Bond is training to be a ninja, I remembered a scene of Bond being surrounded by girls and having to fight at some martial arts camp. He bows to his opponent, then kicks him in the balls and returns to the girls. I was waiting for that to happened, but I believe that is also from The Man with the Golden Gun. I’m sure if you really dug into things, you’d find more similarities.

Anyway, this movie has a few problems. For example, the bad guys have about fourteen opportunities to kill Bond, but they never take them. For example, Helga has him tied to a chair and is threatening him with a knife. Instead of just slicing his throat, she cuts him loose, lets him cut off her dress, have sex, and then decides to trap him into a crashing airplane while she bails out. You know, a standard way to kill someone.  And then Blofeld captures Bond and instead of just killing him, lets him hang around in the control center. Bond kills a guard so he could open the roof, but they still don’t shoot him. Blofeld then takes Bond and Osato to “escape.” They stop at one point, and Blofeld kills Osato. He takes Bond through a door, and then decides that’s the place to kill Bond, instead of the six other chances he had.

But probably the bigger issue – when watching it from today – is making Sean Connery look Japanese. Which, looking at it from the story, makes no sense. For some reason Bond couldn’t just get on the island with the ninja army, and he would stand out in this small, fishing village. But I didn’t catch any mention of the people from the secret volcano base going to the village and maybe getting tipped off by a stranger. Another point that doesn’t really fit anywhere, but nobody in this little village noticed these giant rockets launching and landing only a few miles inland? But why did Bond have to go to the village? Oh, that’s right. He needed to hook up with Kissy.

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