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You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice (1967)

June. 13,1967
| Adventure Action Thriller

A mysterious spacecraft captures Russian and American space capsules and brings the two superpowers to the brink of war. James Bond investigates the case in Japan and comes face to face with his archenemy Blofeld.


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YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is an an adventurous action thriller, the fifth in the James Bond series, in which the secret agent 007 is dispatched to Japan after American and Soviet manned spacecraft disappear mysteriously in orbit. With each nation blaming the other amidst the Cold War, Bond travels secretly to a remote Japanese island to find the perpetrators and comes face to face with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.A good race with time on Japanese soil is very fun, unlike an unconvincing conflict of power in the universe. Unfortunately, beside some sequences from Japanese culture and tradition, this movie did not offer anything new. Of course, some beautiful young women, who cannot resist, seems a bit tired British agent, appear in the movie. However, the magic of previous films is gradually disappearing. This is a ruthless and somewhat confusing adventure that glorifies some unconvincing ideals.The plots are rather confusing, especially when focus is placed on an electronic device. The dialogues are pretty poor regardless of Japanese influence. A tense atmosphere goes beyond the limits of good taste in the second part of the film. However, a final battle has improved my impression to a certain extent.Sean Connery as James Bond is too nonchalant in this movie. Although his performance is at a high level, when it comes to action sequences, his tiredness is visible in relationships with women.Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki, an agent with the Japanese SIS who assists Bond and Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki, an Ama diving girl and Bond's wife, look fresher than their man. Tetsurō Tamba (Tiger Tanaka) is a better version of Felix Leiter as head of Japanese secret service. Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavro Blofeld is overly grotesque as the head of the terrorist syndicate known as SPECTRE.


This is the fifth of the James Bond series with Sean Connery as Agent 007. The progression continues with global travels and exotic locations. This time, much action takes place in Japan and its islands, after visits to Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Spain and Norway. And, for complimentary allies for the big battle scene that has become common in the Bond films, this one has Ninja warriors. "You Only Live Twice" has a nice, intriguing opening. And, it has more advanced technical weapons and toys for Bond to use – or play with, as he often seems to be doing. This film has him using Nelly, the super mini-helicopter assembled from a carton, and with super firepower. The film is also a good reminder about smoking being hazardous for one's health. The scenery in Japan is beautiful. For as tight and secretive as Tanaka's Japanese secret service was supposed to be, it was interesting that he should have two moles inside from the dastardly SPECTRE. The plot for this film was especially intriguing at the time of the film's release. In 1967, the U.S. and Soviet Union indeed were in the space race – as though one might dominate space. The use of film clips of the U.S. and Soviet launches of the orbiting space flights was very good. The artwork in special effects of the SPECTRE spacecraft gobbling up the American and Soviet space capsules is very good, and humorous. Each time it showed that, it looked as though the predator was an alligator swallowing a big bullet. This was a fun and very entertaining film in the James Bond series.


Typical but effective Bond adventure, this time set in Japan to distinguish it from all the others. The movie benefits from the bizarre imagination of Roald Dahl (!) who was commissioned to write the script and who injects some of his own wit, style, and an ounce of darkness into the story. Otherwise, it's business as usual, with a fun helicopter battle, some tense outer-space action (spoilt by some very cheesy model effects - the special effects in the Bond series don't seem to have progressed at all since DR. NO, except by becoming a little tighter) and a good finale, in which Bond infiltrates the enemy base (inside a volcano) and comes face-to-face with his arch enemy Blofeld for the first time.At this point the series was less occupied with screen realism than with out-and-out in-your-face bravado and scenes bordering on the incredible - take that whole "volcano base" thing. Other highlights include Bond narrowly escaping from a plane taking a dive and the elaborate ploy at the beginning of the film to convince the world of his death. Would he really go to all that trouble? This is a fast-paced movie with lots of action and near-death scrapes for Bond - love that scene where he is nearly killed by a hidden assassin pouring poison down a thread to his mouth.Sean Connery returns as Bond and is looking a little older this time - although nowhere near as aged as he appeared in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and then NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. The Japanese supporting cast is very good, especially the two love interests and Tetsuro Tamba as the secret agent "Tiger" Tanaka. Donald Pleasence appears briefly but memorably as the hideously scarred Blofeld, a role which was to be played by lots of people over the years. Series regulars Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, and Desmond Llewellyn also put in welcome appearances, along with Charles Gray as an ally. Gray returned as Blofeld in the next Connery Bond! Euro-starlet Karin Dor turns up briefly as a femme fatale. THE BRIDES OF FU MANCHU fans may note cast members Tsai Chin and Burt Kwouk as minor villains - I guess they had the advantage of being in Britain when this film was made and so were cast easily.Strangely enough my favourite scene in this movie is one of the least spectacular - namely, the dockyard scene where Connery and his girlfriend are stalked by a gang of thugs. There's a fantastic aerial shot of the bad guys closing in on Connery which I really liked, and the choreography is really good here. The one-liners are cheesier than ever, and among the many (unintentionally) funny scenes is one where Connery has to go "Japanese" in order to disguise his true identity - a less Japanese-looking person I can't imagine! In all, good clean fun and a solid addition to the series, unique in setting if nothing else.


"You Only Live Twice" is the only James Bond movie I ever recorded on VHS, and by the law of statistics, it was naturally the one I saw the most, but my connection with the film is only limited with these nostalgic trivia and if I have a soft spot for this 'Bond', I guess it is only because it grew on me "by default". Said differently, I wish I had recorded "Dr. No", "From Russia With Love" or "Goldfinger" which are far better than the last Connery's Bond… of the 60's. But don't get me wrong, the film is far above average, and average by Connery's standard is still good enough.First of all, let's give it the credit it deserves, in terms of special effects, it is quite impressive. You can tell that the series reached maturity judging by the art-settings and pyrotechnics. I read that some critics thought the idea of a spacecraft hi-jacking another one was ludicrous, but the scene showing the unidentified vessel literally swallowing a spacecraft had nothing to envy from a classic of the next year, "2001: A Space Odyssey". That opening scene was well-done, and it was followed by other promising moments: a tense reunion where US diplomats throw the ball back at their Soviet counterparts, and Bond having an intimate moment before being gunned down in his bed. This is not the first time they try to fool the audience and the title is enough of a hint, so I doubt many then-viewers watched the opening sequences with concerns about their favorite Secret Agent's life. And speaking of the title, whatever rating I give to the film, there's one star owed to the magnificent score by Nancy Sinatra, there's something so hypnotic, sensual and strangely morose about this song that makes it unique in Bond's discography. But let's get back to the film, Bond is supposed to be dead. The film goes on the same joke and even features a funeral ceremony, where Bond's body is dropped to the sea, and this is where he's intercepted by a submarine and can be assigned his new mission. Sometimes, I love the Bond films for their opening sequences only, the mission is never as interesting as the little debriefing from M and a flirting session with Moneypenny. In "You Only Live Twice", the mission isn't as interesting as the setting in Japan, Bond must find out which mysterious country or organization is trying to ignite a war between USA and Russia. This is where the film really takes off and while there are many good things to appreciate in this first part, it's the immersion in the Japanese culture that provides some of the best moments, especially the trap door sliding leading to the meeting with Mr. Tanaki and the following massage session in his house, oddly enough, one of my all-time favorite Bond scenes.We all noticed Connery's athletic body and hairy chest in the previous films but it is quite uncommon that the physical attributes actually influence the dialogues. You can't tell if Ian Fleming wrote Bond with Connery's features, but it gave a realistic touch that the masseuses would indeed be fascinated by the hairy chest. Bond stops being a standard hero, but a character also defined by very specific physical attributes. I liked that part, and all the macho innuendo. Those were the days!After that, Bond encrypts a document stolen from a crooked Japanese businessman named Osato, and meets with the beautiful secretary Helga Brandt. I don't remember much from the first time I saw the film (I was twelve) but I remember very well that I had watched enough Bond films to know exactly what was going to happen. Ever since "Goldfinger", I knew the Bond movies always featured three Bond girls, two had to die, and the last one was kept for the final kiss, so I already knew the poor Aki would kick the bucket and poor Brandt would die in a way or another. But this isn't the best vintage of Bond girls anyway and the film kind of loses its pace during its middle section. To give you an idea, I remembered most of the film, but I had totally forgot about the helicopter chase, and I guess what it says is that many scenes could have belonged to any Bond film, which is the worst compliment you could give. Pussy Galore could only work in "Goldfinger", Red Grant was too serious to even work for Goldfinger but in "You Only Live Twice", the film needed to get straight to the final setting because that volcano headquarters was the highlight. But it's too short for the film's own good.Indeed, the climactic sequence finally confronts Bond to his archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by a scary Donald Pleasance, but nothing really emerges from this confrontation, except for a few chitchat, and many opportunities to eliminate Bond, except that, for some reasons, Blofeld's priorities were to dispose of his useless henchmen, making useless points before killing Bond when someone could rescue him. Since I mentioned Red Grant, I remember that he refused Bond's plea for a cigarette, Blofeld accepted. That he'd fall for a trick that didn't fool a henchman says a lot about how overrated this villain is. Or maybe he was just victim of this weird feeling of rush and urgency that couldn't exploit the climactic setting to its fullest."You Only Live Twice" isn't the freshest Bond, but at the very least, it's one of the Top 10 best of the series, marking the last Connery appearance, as he was afraid to be typecast and felt it was time to live twice… a second cinematic career.