About This Item

Preview Image for You Only Live Twice: Special Edition (James Bond) (UK)
You Only Live Twice: Special Edition (James Bond) (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000009483
Added by: RWB
Added on: 19/1/2003 20:50
View Changes

Other Reviews, etc
Places to Buy

Searching for products...

Review of You Only Live Twice: Special Edition (James Bond)

7 / 10


In 1964 Ian Fleming`s novel "You Only Live Twice", another Bond adventure, was published: this time set in Japan and with a strong sense of death throughout. In 1967, after four incredibly successful screen outings, James Bond was back. Back to battle evil...

When US and Soviet manned spaceships are hijacked in Earth`s orbit, Agent 007 (Sean Connery) must race to prevent a nuclear war between the super-powers. His mission takes him to Japan, where he battles the evil SPECTRE organisation and its diabolical leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

When the film was being planned meticulously as ever by the producers, Lewis Gilbert`s Alfie was doing well at the box office, so Broccoli and Saltzman approached him to helm the fifth Bond film - he agreed, so now it was up to the film-makers to begin pre-production on what would soon turn out to be Connery`s last role as Bond...or so they thought.


2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Like the last Bond film, Thunderball, the prints are now of standard where they are well defined with a good use of the palette. The transfer is free from dust and grain, and there are no other artefacts - such as compression signs - visible.

Gilbert`s direction is perfectly suited to a fast-paced action film, and as fans know by now, Bond films are always full of action. The set-pieces in You Only Live Twice therefore do not disappoint, and the fluid transition of the film is one of its strongest merits. Combine this with some great cinematography as ever (in particular the air battle), and this is one of the most visually striking and distinctive instalments: and of course the Japanese setting does nothing but compliment this.


Dolby Digital Mono (English). After getting all excited with the last disc`s 5.1 soundtrack, we are back to the land of the primitive soundstage - and even though the soundtrack is crisp and clear throughout, the lack of surround activity means the action sequences are never as exciting as they could have been, given proper representation (of course, this is no fault of the film-makers).

Interestingly, the script is penned by renowned children`s author, Roald Dahl. After the original writer dropped out, Broccoli and Saltzman hired Dahl on the strength of his short stories. Taking Fleming`s Japanese setting and then proceeding to dump almost all of the remainder of the novel, Dahl does though weave a very Bondian world: quite an undertaking for any writer.

John Barry`s score for You Only Live Twice ranks as one of my all time Bond faves, as it contains a real Oriental flavour yet also has all the hallmarks of a Bond score. Similarly, the theme tune is equally as good.


The extras begin as always with an audio commentary from the director - Lewis Gilbert - and some other assorted members of cast and crew. Continuing the Bond DVD fashion, the commentary is insightful, informative and well worth listening to on a repeat viewing.

The first documentary, "Inside You Only Live Twice", is probably the best Bond making-of I`ve seen out of the previous four discs and this. Clocking in at around half an hour, it contains some great interviews with cast and crew (although mainly the latter), as well as behind-the-scenes footage and anecdotes. A note for trivia fans: it seems that supernatural forces were with the film-makers whilst making You Only Live Twice - after scouting locations in Japan, the crew were heading back to London. The plane they were bound on was all ready to go when a call came through for them - asking them to come and see a ninja video (for a part in the film, honest), meaning they could not return on this particular flight. Disembarking, they were stunned to hear that, an hour later, their plane had crashed: and they had escaped death. Final Destination, eat your heart out...

The second documentary, "Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles", is really a tribute to legend Maurice Binder, who designed all the Bond title sequences from Dr. No (excluding From Russia With Love and Goldfinger) Licence To Kill. Interesting, as it features interviews from the people who knew him, but slightly overlong.

A Bond first, there is an animated storyboard sequence included: featuring a deconstruction of the plane crash in the film.

Advertising materials pad out the package, four trailers and eight radio spots to be precise.

As always, there is an 8-page booklet containing interesting production notes and chapter listings.

The menus are animated with music in the background and some pretty nifty animations. They are fairly easy to navigate.


Exciting, action packed, a great array of characters and excellent locations - this instalment has it all. The script is, as ever, the starting point, but it is one of the better starting points of the series so far, but still the same amount of effort is put into other aspects of the film: such as the great directing, and of course, the acting.

Connery is once again on fine form, and although fans were disappointed to hear this would be his last role, he did regain sense and return to the role in 1971`s Diamonds Are Forever: the seventh Bond film.

The supporting cast are all perfectly suited to their respected roles, whether it is the creepy Donald Pleasance as the creepy Blofeld or the excellent Tetsuro Tamba as the vallant Tanaka.

The disc itself is good, although a 5.1 soundtrack and perhaps one or two more extras (second commentary or a featurette) would have been nice.

One of the better Bond films on an average (by Bond disc standards) DVD. Still, definitely one to own if you can`t, or don`t want to, own the whole collection.

Your Opinions and Comments

Be the first to post a comment!