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The Man with the Golden Gun(1974)
James Bond (Agent 007) must find the missing "Solex Agitator," a device that will harness the sun's radiation and give awesome power to whomever possesses it. Also vying for the prize is Francisco Scaramanga, a world-class assassin who brandishes a distinctive golden gun. When 007 discovers he is to be Scaramanga's next target, he is hurled into a deadly game of cat- and-mouse, continuing the search as he evades the killer on his trail. Bond must also contend with Scaramanga's exotic lover Andrea Anders, and Nick Nack, whose small size belies his lethal abilities. Even as 007 enlists the aid of sensuous Mary Goodnight, he must overcome ferocious odds to survive an explosive showdown on Scaramanga's remote island. His adventures draw him into a gripping boat pursuit, a wild automobile chase through Bangkok, and an unthinkable confrontation against an entire martial arts school.
For more about The Man with the Golden Gun and the The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray release, see the The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on April 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writers: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz, Ian Fleming
Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Clifton James (I)
» See full cast & crew
The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray Review
James Bond proves a straight shooter on this AVC 27.15 mbps encode.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, April 27, 2009
After watching Daniel Craig escalate Bond into the 21st century in Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale, it is painful to revisit the previous incarnations of 007. Who wants to watch styrofoam sets, silly gadgets, corny plots and suave silliness that marked most of the Bond films prior to Craig's arrival. The previous films seem dated by today's standards. Most critics agree that the franchise descended to its nadir during the Roger Moore years. Moore's second Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, is about as boring as 007 gets. Moore is atrocious, but the villain is actually quite good. Also on the plus side, there are no stupid gadgets here (unless you consider the golden gun itself to be a gadget) and the story is at least somewhat interesting--hinging on the energy crisis of the 1970s--an issue that still has relevance today. The video performance of Universal's Blu-ray release is often impressive. Mainly Bond completists and collectors will want The Man with the Golden Gun in their library, and I can recommend MGM's Blu-ray to the 007 fanatics in our midst.
The Man with the Golden Gun starts off on the island home of infamous assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). A second assassin has been dispatched to the island to challenge Scaramanga and is met by the pint sized servant Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize), who 30-something and older viewers will recognize as Tattoo from the 1970s TV show Fantasy Island. But Scaramanga quickly puts an end to the hitman's aspirations in the estate's rather contrived hall of mirrors. As the plot segues to London, it becomes clear everything about this film is contrived. The insipid M (Bernard Lee) and slightly more animated Q (Desmond Llewelyn) make appearances to alert Bond that he is targeted for assassination by Scaramanga, whose trademark is the use of a golden gun and golden bullet, as well as excellent marksmanship. Targeted for certain death, Bond is then asked to go on vacation and take cover from the assassin. Instead, Bond pursues the killer and redoubles his efforts when Scaramanga is linked to the death of a reknowned scientist working on a powerful solar cell that can harness the energy of the sun. The missing device, known as the "solex agitator", cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. But can Bond find it in time?
Like all 007 films, The Man with the Golden Gun features some good-looking babes. The exotic Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) is Scaramanga's girlfriend and Bond solicits the help of Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland). Of course there is the ever-flirtatious Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), but she looked better in earlier Bond films. Martial arts is also on display, featuring Hai Fat (Richard Loo) and a couple of Asian girls who beat up an entire organization of martial artists. The fight sequences appear silly, especially by today's standards. The one bright spot of the film is Scaramanga himself. Lee plays the villain with far more ability and skill than Moore displays--to the point where I found myself rooting for the bad guy throughout the film. If Moore had greater ability as an actor, or the script wasn't so cheesy, a truly intriguing game of cat and mouse could have played out between 007 and the assassin. But unfortunately, we get one of the silliest snoozers of the series. Not even the car chase scene through Bangkok can help. In all seriousness, it is a complete embarrassment compared to the care chase that opened Quantum of Solace.
The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Man with the Golden Gun isn't the strongest cinematographic production to begin with, but the transfer is good. MGM's MPEG-4 AVC encode delivers good detail, especially in some close facial shots and clothing textures, although much of the picture is a bit soft. Supple grain is visible throughout, and the 1080p presentation has an overall film-like feel, which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, there were some minor signs of digitization including a hard-edged sheen to the grain in some scenes. The good news is that colors appear natural and realistic, from the earthtones of the blue sea and green trees to the skintones of Bond, Scaramanga and the Asian actors. No artifical contrast or brightening appears to be applied. I don't believe edge enhancement is used either, although some reports claim otherwise. Your mileage may vary.
Low-light detail is good. Watch the scene where Bond arrives on Macau. While the lights and shop signs appear vibrant, the shadow areas are also well delineated, with good grayscale performance. In some respects, such as fine detail and contrast, the night and indoor shots exceed the outdoor daylight scenes in balance and tone. Black level in the darker scenes also helps create some depth to help characters pop as opposed to a strictly flat presentation. The action sequences are shot rather poorly, but the transfer is not to blame.
The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray, Audio Quality
MGM's DTS HD Master Audio mix is not particularly lively or engaging. The detail and imaging are lacking, too. Dialog sounds crisp and clear, but that is about the highpoint of the audio performance. Car engines appear boxed-in and closed rather than the open, thoaty delivery that marks well-engineered soundtracks. Gunshots suffer as well. You will not mistake the shots in the movie mix for an escaped convict reeking havoc in your neighborhood. In fact, the entire mix appears pinched in the midrange and rolled off in the highs. There is no deep bass--might as well power down the sub--and even the mid-bass seems a bit anemic. Worse, the mix does not convey enough ambient information that in some Blu-ray soundtracks creates incredible presence. Here there is very content eminating from the rear speakers even in a busy casino or an island with the sounds of nature coming from all sides. At least aural cues SHOULD be coming from all sides, but instead The Man with the Golden Gun delivers a very two-dimensional, front and center soundstage that was quite boring and dull. The problem seemed to go beyond the way the film was originally produced and extended into telltale signs of the DTS HD MA mix.
The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Double-O Stuntmen--The high point of the bonus content comes with this half-hour high-definition documentary that has nothing to do with The Man with the Golden Gun. Instead, the featurette covers a range of stunts appearing in various Bond films, initially focusing on Pierce Brosnan's bungee jump scene in Goldeneye. Stunts are presented in detail from a full range of 007 movies. More fun than the feature!
Inside The Man With the Golden Gun--Fans of the feature movie will delight in a half-hour original documentary presented in high definition. It's a bit redundant with the included audio commentary but it covers the development of the script, from the book to the actual production.
Audio Commentary--Two different audio tracks are available--one featuring director Guy Hamilton and members of the cast and crew and the other with Sir Roger Moore, who actually comes across every bit as interesting and charming as his performance as Bond. I admit, that isn't saying much in the case of The Man with the Golden Gun.
The Russell Harty Show--a three-minute, standard-definition clip of Roger Moore on Harty's talk show talking about his new (at the time) Bond film.
On Location with The Man With the Golden Gun--Clocking in at only a minute, this standard definition clip gives you an amateur look at the set of the Bottom's Up.
Girls Fighting--A three-minute, standard-definition clip of outtakes and bloopers of the scene where the two Asian daughters defeat hordes of kung fu students. The scene that made it in the movie was so bad it's hard to imagine that even worse footage was edited out, yet here's the proof.
American Thrill Show Stunt Film--A five-minute clip with selectable audio commentary and standard-definition picture, the stunt clip explores the "astro-roll", an automotive barrel roll that is used in the film to depict a car crash.
The Road to Bond: Stunt Coordinator W.J. Milligan--Clocking in at eight minutes, this audio track features an interview with the fabled stunt coordinator, primarily focused on working with automobiles.
007 Mission Control--Like the other mission control featurettes delivered on Bond catalog Blu-ray discs, this option allows easy access to different parts of The Man with the Golden Gun based on key words and images.
Rounding out the bonus material is an image collection featuring some nifty views of the Thai island of Phuket and various other scenes from the film. Also included are theatrical Trailers, TV broadcasts and even radio spots.
The Man with the Golden Gun Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
MGM's Blu-ray release of The Man with the Golden Gun is a slam-dunk for Bond completists and collectors, with good picture quality and a bevvy of featurettes, including some new content in HD. I find it difficult to recommend the film to average Blu-ray collectors, however. The cheese factor is just too pungent and Roger Moore simply doesn't cut it as Bond. While this was apparent to some critics before, it seems even more evident now that Daniel Craig has taken the 007 mantle and evolved Bond into a cerebral action hero in the 21st century. The older Bond movies now seem horribly dated. But like it or not, the history of 007 on the silver screen does include such lemons as The Man with the Golden Gun and MGM therefore deserves praise for doing an above average job with the picture. As does Christopher Lee for giving us one of Bond's most sinister foes in Francisco Scaramanga.
The Man with the Golden Gun: Other Editions
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