Bond and Tiger next meet at Tiger’s ninja training school near Himeji castle. The Castle’s shown up in various films, including King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Which also starred Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki)
This cool shot of a ninja passionately training with his sword and facing the camera even made it to one of the stock clips used in the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service opening…
He later introduces to a more “modern” Ninja training range with various guns being used, as well as some more specialized equipment. This is pretty much the “Q” lab scene of the film, minus Q. Tanaka in particular has another of the film’s signature gadget-a cigarette that launches a small explosive dart.
There’s a bit of a funny quip here, too.
Tiger: It can save your life, this cigarette.
Bond: You sound like a commercial.
Next comes one of the somewhat more implausible parts of the movie-to get closer to the island and find out what’s really going on there, Bond has to go undercover as a Japanese man, complete with a wife on the island (To his disappointment, not Aki but a local “Ama” girl. Ama girls are shellfish divers from Japanese islands).
It’s not exactly the most convincing disguise. Spending one last night with Aki before his “wedding” Aki unfortunately succumbs to poison meant for Bond.
Not only that, but they’ve also slipped another spy among the ninjas, who nearly kills Bond. It’s apparent that the Himeji castle base has been compromised by SPECTRE, so Bond heads for the island, although I think it’s very clear at this point that SPECTRE pretty much knows what he looks like even with his ‘disguise’.
Bond then gets “married” to agent Kissy Suzuki in a nicely shot and scored sequence. This isn’t the first or last time Bond would be fake married-He and Tataiyana were the “Somersets” in From Russia With Love, and he would be the “Sterlings” with Anya in Spy Who Loved Me. Likewise, Rosie Carvier posed as a “Ms.Bond” for part of Live and Let Die Of course, there’s only one true Mrs. Bond…if only for a few moments.
Now on the island, Bond of course starts making the moves on Kissy, arguing they must “keep up appearances” on their “Honeymoon”- there’s even an oyster joke here similar to “Thunderball”. Tiger later shows up, and warns them that there’s going to be another launch, sooner than expected. But now they’ve got a vital clue-a local girl died near a cave.
Rowing away from the fishing fleet-with a few nice shots-looks like Aki is starting to warm to her “husband”. Although this is still a blue-screen shot I believe, it’s one of the better ones in the movie.
They stop by the cave, but it’s filled with poisonous gas-with the dive pretty much destroying Bond’s disguise. Bond realizes that there’s something weird about the volcano despite his earlier Arial recon.
Finally the two embrace, but their moment is kind of ruined by a SPECTRE helicopter-which lands in the crater. So, if having four helicopters earlier try to kill you didn’t convince you something was up about that volcano, one landing prompts a closer look?
Once they figure out that the lake is fake and it opens to reveal another helicopter, Bond quickly adopts a ‘ninja’ look and infiltrate’s SPECTRE’s fortress and it’s monorail. Bond quickly finds the captive astronauts (minus the one who died in the opening) and frees them. There’s some nice sort of detente’ dialogue here, with the Astronaught and Cosmonaughts talking about training. Bond rescues them, and quickly tries to disguise themselves as SPECTRE astronauts to attempt to sabotage SPECTRE’s rocket. But Bond makes a stupid mistake by taking his AC unit in, which Blofeld notices.
Don’t worry James, you’ll make it to space someday. But in something a little more yellow and drab than this suit right here (Which was actually worn by the other astronauts in Moonraker, minus the name and union jack)
Brought to Blofeld, the SPECTRE leader is finally revealed, with his iconic bald head, Mao suit and scar in addition to what we already are aware of-the cat. Although it would really only be the suit which would survive to most later versions; even Waltz’s version had one.
Although he’d certainly get the scar, if not the baldness-yet.
Of course, he gets to say the title, when noting Bond’s fake death.
Bond: Yes, this is my second life.
Blofeld: You Only Live Twice, mr.Bond.
Pleasence’s performance of Blofeld is quite good, although as noted he’s a bit more high-pitched than the previous ‘no face’ Blofeld. He’s sort of got an atmosphere of seething menace, while future Blofelds would be somewhat more camp (including Waltz), if less visually distinct.
Blofeld’s about to start World War III with his rocket, although Tanaka’s ninjas-along with Kissy, are on their way. Using his machine guns to take them out and close the crater, he states that it’s like watching a TV program.
Blofeld: The firing power inside my crater is enough to annihilate a small army. You can watch it all on TV. It’s the last program you’re likely to see.
James Bond: Well, if I’m gonna be forced to watch television, may I smoke?
Yes. Give him his cigarettes. It won’t be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond.
….and there you go Blofeld, you’ve practically handed Bond his means of escape, much like Red Grant with the attache case. At least Goldfinger inspected or damaged most of Bond’s gadgets. Bond uses the cigarette to knock out a few guards, and open the crater just enough for Tanaka’s ninjas to slip in. Although Bond is quickly re-captured, Blofeld decides to take care of him personally-but first shooting Osato. Thankfully, a timely ninja shuriken injures Blofeld enough to save Bond. Cue big action scene!
This is pretty much the equivalent of Thunderball’s big navy vs. SPECTRE action scene, and would be followed by more in later films.
In Blofeld’s office-which holds the destruct button for the rocket-Bond faces off against Hans, another SPECTRE henchman who is pretty much just Red Grant without dialogue. He’s pretty much the first Grant ‘clone’-strong, largely silent, blond etc. although certainly others would follow-Eric Kreigler(For Your Eyes Only) Necros (The Living Daylights) and Stamper (Tomorrow Never Dies). Bond sends him into the piranha pool after a brief struggle.
Meanwhile, if Bond can’t stop the rocket, World War III might happen at any moment. As a radar technician watches. You might remember this guy-he’s Shane Rimmer, who has played a number of small roles in Bond and other films.
His most substantial role? That of Commander Carter in “The Spy Who Loved Me” where he shared several scenes with the later Roger Moore.
That same year he also appeared in “Star Wars” as the guy who asks Luke if he wants a fresh R2 unit…
Most recently though he showed up as the guy controlling the train lines in Batman Begins…
Rimmer was a Canadian actor living in Britain, so he appeared in several films-American and otherwise-shot there. He also worked for Gerry Anderson’s shows in the UK.
Anyway, back to the movie, Bond manages to destroy the rocket, but Blofeld has his own self-destruct for his base, although he escapes to fight Bond another day.
Like at the end of “Thunderball” (and to a degree “Dr.No” Bond is once again adrift at sea with the girl as they escape the now-active volcano). Although he doesn’t need a fulton balloon this time, as M’s sub surfaces right under them.
I should note that this is a far happier-and Bond like-ending than the novel, which has Bond amnesiac and actually believing he is Kissy’s husband (and she’s actually pregnant with his son!), until he’s captured by foreign agents who brainwash him (leaving into “Man with the Golden Gun”)
Although Bond certainly would not get a happy ending in the next film-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
YOLT is a great film visually as far as set design and locations are concerned-not quite the tropicalness of Thunderball but still a cool look at another country and it’s culture. Plot-wise it’s a bit thin, and acting-wise although Pleasence, Tetsuro Tamba and the ladies (or their dub actresses) try their best, I feel it’s one of Connery’s weaker performances in the role-he seems somewhat disinterested and lacking the spark of the earlier performances. Not to be too judgmental or anything, but it also looks like he’s gained some weight, and not quite as healthy as he was in the previous films. Not as bad as he looks in Diamonds Are Forever though….
(I mean-hair aside-he looks older and less Bondian here than in Never Say Never Again-possibly he gained weight in part due to his personal stress at the time, such as his divorce)
Although I suppose his “Diamonds” look could be down to a bad toupee as well-Connery of course has been balding at that point already…
But alas, that’ll be explored later in my “Diamonds” review.