The British super spy with a license to kill takes on his dark underworld double, a classy assassin who kills with golden bullets at $1 million a hit in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
Roger Moore, in his second outing as James Bond, meets Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga, one of the most magnetic villains in the entire series, in this entertaining but rather wan entry in the 007 sweepstakes. Bond’s globetrotting search takes him to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and finally China, where Scaramango turns his island retreat into a twisted theme park for a deadly game of wits between the gunmen, moderated by Scaramanga’s diminutive man Friday, Nick Nack (Fantasy Island‘s Herve Villechaize).
Britt Ekland does her best as the most embarrassingly inept Bond girl in 007 history, a clumsy, dim agent who looks fetching in a bikini, while Maud Adams is Scaramanga’s tough but haunted lover and assistant (she returns to the series as the title character in Octopussy). Clifton James, the redneck sheriff from Live and Let Die, makes an embarrassing and ill-advised appearance as a racist tourist who briefly teams up with 007 in what is otherwise the film’s highlight, a high energy chase through the crowded street of Bangkok that climaxes with a breathtaking mid-air corkscrew jump.
Bond and company are let down by a lazy script, but Moore balances the overplayed humor with a steely performance and Lee’s charm and enthusiasm makes Scaramanga a cool, deadly, and thoroughly enchanting adversary.
It’s the ninth film in the series and the sophomore outing for Moore as 007, who plays the part with a much lighter touch and a lot more humor than Connery did. The regular MI6 support team is back— Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, Desmond Llewelyn as gadget maker ‘Q,’ and Bernard Lee as the unflappable ‘M’—and American character actor Marc Lawrence has a small role as an American gangster who challenges Scaramanga.
Director Guy Hamilton made Goldfinger (1964), which really launched the series as an international sensation, and oversaw Moore’s debut as Bond in Live and Let Die (1973). This was his fourth and final feature in the franchise.
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The Man With the Golden Gun [Blu-ray]
The Man With the Golden Gun [DVD]
The James Bond Collection (24 films) [Blu-ray]