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Man With The Golden Gun, The: Special Edition (James Bond) (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000011433
Added by: RWB
Added on: 15/3/2003 19:49
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    Review of Man With The Golden Gun, The: Special Edition (James Bond)

    7 / 10


    "How can the Bond series possibly succeed without Connery?"

    That was the question on everyone`s lips after 1971`s Diamonds Are Forever, which culminated with Sean Connery leaving the role that had made him a global superstar - but then in 1973 there was Live And Let Die, the film in which Roger Moore made his debut as Agent 007.

    It sparked off the magic of the British spy again, and even though audiences had changed since Bond first appeared on the silver screen, his fanbase hadn`t decreased one iota. So now, one year after Moore`s debut, his second outing appeared: The Man With The Golden Gun.

    Bond must find the missing Solex Agitator, a device that will harness the sun`s radiation and give awesome power to whomever possess it. But, also vying for the prize is Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), 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 (Maud Adams), and Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize), whose small size belies his lethal abilities. Even as 007 enlists the aid of sensuous Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), he must overcome ferocious odds to survive an explosive showdown on Scaramanga`s remote island.


    1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. As with all of the Bond DVDs, they have been visually tarted up for their release, and this is no exception. Colours are defined well, with no artefacts on-screen to blur or sully such clarity; and the print is crisp and clear throughout. The transfer replicates this quality with no dust or grain, and overall this is a prime example of how material that is decades old can be successfully brought into the digital age.

    There is one person who can lay claim to be one of the best helmers to direct the Bond films: and that is Guy Hamilton, who returns once again to co-ordinate the action. Hamilton`s signature with the series is a lot of action, larger-than-life characters and the `fun factor` cranked up to 11. And thankfully, he delivers on all fronts, with some great set-pieces and other eye-catching visual moments that act as further proof of the panache of the Bond series.


    Dolby Digital Mono (English). As I have said many times before, a mono track is just not good enough for a film of this nature - yet MGM seem to have been totally oblivious to this, and yet again stuck a front channel-only soundtrack on the DVD. Yes, it is good; but no, it is not enough.

    The Man With The Golden Gun had rather a complicated writing process, passing from author to author until the final script was landed. Starting with Tom Mankiewicz, it then went to veteran screenwriter Richard Maibaum when Manciewicz had to pull out...before going back to Manciewicz. And of course, it was all based on the same-titled novel by Ian Fleming. However, despite the criss-cross nature of the writing, everything fitted together fine in the end, forming an intriguing premise: and although fantasy elements are present, this is the most interesting due to the fact that Scaramanga is Bond - albeit the `dark Bond`.


    Continuing the trend of the main extra being an audio commentary, here is the sole track on The Man With The Golden Gun: featuring director Guy Hamilton with the cast and crew. Like I`ve said before, it makes essential listening and is ideal for a repeat viewing of the film - insightful, anecdotal and informative.

    The first documentary, "Inside The Man With The Golden Gun", is a 30 minute look at the production, featuring interviews with the cast and crew involved. It is very interesting as ever, and one of the highlights is to see Christopher Lee expressing his views and recollections from back when it was made.

    The second documentary, "Double-0-Stuntman", is another contender for the `given` title ever since the Bond DVDs were announced. Stunts form an integral part of each and every 007 instalment, so this hefty 30 minute look at the people behind the daring tricks deserve a lot of recognition, and yes, this documentary does deliver. Covering most of the Bond films` stunts, this is interesting, as the stuntmen themselves reminisce on how difficult and dangerous some were to pull off.

    A comprehensive stills gallery is also included - as always it contains numerous shots related to the production. Extensive, and very good for the Bond-obsessee.

    There is also a selection of advertising materials on offer: original TV ads, radio spots and the theatrical trailers. All are good for nostalgic and marketing reasons...and they work on both levels.

    An 8-page booklet is present, which contains some insightful production notes and the chapter listings.

    The menus are animated well with music in the background whilst footage from the film itself plays in the foreground, accompanied by some good animations. They are fairly easy to navigate.


    Many people have dismissed Bond #9 as a weak entry to the series, for a variety of reasons. However, I have to disagree. The Man With The Golden Gun is instead one of the better instalments to the espionage series - because it fires on all cylinders so to speak and doesn`t get bogged down by trying to be something that it isn`t.

    Christoper Lee`s Scaramanaga, for instance, is one of the most compelling villains to take a breath on a frame of Bond film, and he is the true nemesis of Moore`s Bond. They both like to wine and dine; be surrounded by fine women (who doesn`t?); and their lives seem to take common routes...the only difference is that our society would deem James Bond `good` and Francisco Scaramanga `bad`. They`re confrontations thus remain very intriguing and electric.

    Guy Hamilton is another reason for the calibre of the ninth film - his visual flair contributes stacks to the set-pieces, meaning that the film is padded out with some edge-of-the-seat sequences which are just as impressive on repeat viewing.

    An interesting plot, good script, tight direction, and solid acting all combine together to make the highlight of Roger Moore`s Bond years, and although his subsequent five films ranged from quite good to very good, they never quite managed to topple the enthusiam and atmosphere of this.

    The disc itself is quite good - not as strong as some of the others in the series. Visuals are very good; audio is just above-average; and the extras are good, but just below-average compared to the other Bond DVDs. Overall, good but could be better.

    Ignore the "It`s not as good as the other Bond films" hype, as The Man With The Golden Gun is a very enjoyable instalment, and shows that Moore can adopt dexterity and fit into the persona of 007 very well indeed. Couple this with a fairly strong disc, and you have yourself (another) winner. Recommended.

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