Plot: What’s it about?
When Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), a master assassin who commands one million dollars per hit, gets his hands on a valuable energy converter, it seems as though a recovery mission must be developed. But when Scaramanga’s calling card, a golden bullet, arrives at British government headquarters with the phrase 007 etched on it, it becomes clear who must retrieve the equipment and take down the mad man. With his life on the line as Scaramanga’s next hit, Bond travels in search of the assassin, to beat him to the punch before he ends up as just another bounty. As Bond gets closer to Scaramanga, he learns that there is not as much difference between the two of them as he might have though. The main difference is that Bond has a license to kill, whereas Scaramanga has to skirt the law in order to make his kills. Bond also finds out that Scaramanga has much respect for him, even though his goal is to leave him as little more than a red splotch on the wall. Sooner or later, Bond will surely face Scaramanga man to man, in a battle to the death, but will he ever make it that far?
Bond is back, this time battling a legendary spooky guy and a midget, what more can you ask for? While this installment in the series seems far removed from the rest at times, it still manages to deliver the goods, at least I think it does. The villains are excellent here, although Nick Nack can be too humorous at times for his own good, but when Lee is on screen, I am in cinematic heaven. This is one of my favorite Bonds, just because he is taking on Lee, one of the finest evil actors in the business, bar none. But aside from the bad guys, you’ve got the awesome stunts and eye candy you expect from a Bond adventure, although the cool gadgets seem to have taken this episode off. The main criticism of this film seems to be that is seems more like a normal feature film than a Bond flick, but I don’t see where that one comes from. I mean, sure this one could function outside the series and still work, but it is also everything you can want from a Bond movie. This isn’t the best adventure 007 has taken, but it does make for a fun ride. This is another excellent release for a Bond flick, so fans of the series shouldn’t hesitate to buy this release, although others may want to give this a rent before they buy.
This film was directed by Guy Hamilton, who directed a total of four Bond films, including this one along with Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Live And Let Die. As such, the man knows his way around the world of 007, and it shows in this, his final Bond adventure. Hamilton’s expertise as an action director certainly shows in this film, and I feel he was one of the better directors to take on the 007 legacy. Roger Moore is back as James Bond in this film, and he is up to the task, for sure. He plays Bond here with less than his usual smirkish wit, and more bad ass attitude, which I don’t think is a bad thing at all. While Moore gives a terrific performance here, he is outshone by the work of Christopher Lee, who plays one of the most complex and interesting Bond foes of all time, and my personal favorite. The supporting cast here includes Britt Ekland (Moon In Scorpio), Herve Villechaize (The Forbidden Zone, Tv’s Fantasy Island), Maud Adams (The Kill Reflex, Forbidden Sun), and Clifton James (Lone Star, Eight Men Out). Returning Bond regulars include Lois Maxwell, Bernard Lee, and Desmond Llewelyn.
Video: How does it look?
The Man with the Golden Gun is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wasn’t dazzled by this transfer, but it looks great and makes the DVD obsolete. The print looks excellent, which allows the detail to be improved and while not eye popping, this looks quite refined. Not as sharp as a new release of course, but a considerable enhancement over previous releases. Some shots do look soft, but that seems to be either intentional or due to the stock used. I saw no issues with colors, which looked natural, while contrast was spot on as well. So given the material involved, this is a great presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
A DTS HD 5.1 option is here and given the film’s mono roots, this is an impressive soundtrack. A lot of mono remixes tend to sound thin or forced, but this one is rock solid and even powerful at times. The surround use isn’t explosive, but it packs a punch and more to the point, has a natural presence. Of course, the action scenes benefit the most, but the entire movie sounds great. The music even has a lot of life here, not to mention some deep bass here and there. This disc also includes the original mono soundtrack, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Up first is an audio commentary track, which features several cast and crew members, with the main time being used by director Guy Hamilton. This is a somewhat difficult to follow track, but in the end it’s worth the effort, with plenty of information to be taken. A second session has comments from Roger Moore and of course, he has some interesting thoughts. Not as lively as some, but this is still a solid track from Bond himself. A half hour featurette, Double-O-Stuntmen is also included here, which covers many of the more impressive stunts in the Bond series and even lets your hear about them from the men who performed them, how about them apples? You’ll also find Inside The Man With The Golden Gun, a thirty-five minute documentary on the film, which consists of cast and crew interviews and some behind the scenes footage. Additional featurettes spotlight more of Guy Hamilton’s memories, the film’s stunts, and even one about the females of Bond. This disc also includes a fairly extensive and well organized still photo gallery as well as two theatrical trailers, two television spots, and three radio ads for the film.