THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, 1974
Bond is sent a notice that professional assassin Francisco Scaramanga is out looking to kill James Bond. Bond goes out to find out why dropping his current case, which is following leads on the energy crisis, going on at the time. With a lot of kung fu, beautiful Thailand locations and one of the greatest stunts filmed in Bond history, Bond finds himself more than busy.
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The Man with the Golden Gun is a fun Bond film. It's strengths lie in Christopher Lee's laid back assassin who loves to kill and sees Bond as an equal. Scaramanga stands out as one of the best Bond villains for his natural love for killing. It's also scary that he challenges at killing, proving to himself that his ego is as good as he believes it to be, giving him an interesting edge. He isn't the usual megalomaniac in most bond films. He doesn't have any henchmen, but he does have a sidekick Nick Nack played by Herve Villechaize.
The story turns into an interesting Bond adventure. Scaramanga needs an object called the solex to help take solar energy from the sun to power his laser cannon. MI6 is trying to get their hands on the solex to prevent this. The solex is a macguffin, dictating where the story goes. It gets quite frustrating, because Bond girl Mary Goodnight, played by Britt Ekland, is portrayed as a klutz and when she gets her hand on the solex you predictably know she is going to inadvertently hand over the solex to Scaramanga. This predictability makes the film seem a bit forced, which makes sense to me, because they also threw in a whole kung fu school scene where Bond is forced to fight. This was a classic staple for most kung-fu films at the time where Bruce Lee for example takes on a whole school in The Chinese Connection and other films at the time. The Street Fighter with Sonny Chiba had a similar scene. Like Live and Let Die, where the filmmakers and producers were hitting upon the popularity of the blaxploitation genre, The Man With the Golden Gun was aiming for the kung-fu genre trying to bring Bond to new levels of forced popularity.
I'm not saying that this isn't okay, I find it a lot of fun, but critically I think that it says a lot about the franchise turning into what they think is popular instead of exploiting the popularity of what they created with Bond in the first place. That being said The Man With The Golden Gun has one of the best stunts in the series. I have read a lot about the 360 bridge jump and WJ Milligan Jr deserves acknowledgement. As a kid the stunt blew my mind. This man developed this stunt using nothing but physics. Detailing the ramps and even the car by placing the engine in the place he felt was right to make the jump successful. He sold it to Broccoli and Saltzman, the producers. A stunt man, Bumps Willard, performed the stunt at Milligan's specific directions and the stunt went off perfectly. You have to respect that even if a tacky wind pipe is heard over the jump in the film the stunt still rules.
In the end there were a lot of successes in man with the golden gun and Moore is getting more comfortable with Bond. The showdown with Scaramanga is exciting even though it feels a bit unrealistic, time wise, how Bond figures out how to finally get Scaramanga, but none the less a lot of fun throughout. When Scaramanga trys to convince Bond they kill for the same reasons is exciting, because it reveals Bond's true emotions about killing, something that has never come up yet in the films. It's always good to see Bond in vulnerable moments.