Review: The Man With the Golden Gun [1974] 44th Birthday Review!

a review by the Swan(!).

curated by the Azure-Winged Magpie! (Magpie-notes may appear…)
(つ ಥ__ಥ)つ save me! ……………………………………………… 🔫(◔ ◡ ◔) lalala!

The Man With the Golden Gun

WARNING: This section contains MODERATE spoilers.

“He has a powerful weapon. He charges a million a shot…”

Yeah, sorry about that. That theme song’s been in the old cranium for about two weeks. Why, you may ask? This was due to randomly deciding to watch The Man with The Golden Gun. Also, because I wanted to see that HBO docu-drama based on one of the actors (which I eventually got around to watching). And since the Crow asked me to get another review in, I’ve decided to write a review about this old Roger Moore Bond classic.

After the classic gun barrel opening, we’re introduced to the mysterious Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) relaxing with his woman friend Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) on his private island in the Far East. We’re also introduced to Scaramanga’s pint-sized (gotta be PC in this day and age) henchman Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize), who hires a hitman to kill Scaramanga in the hopes of inheriting his fortune. That, and to ensure that Scaramanga becomes a better assassin with each kill. Think of it as a similar scenario to Inspector Clouseau and his manservant. After the hitman hunts down Scaramanga through a creepy-looking “funhouse”, Scaramanga wins by shooting the guy dead with his golden gun. The lights come on and we see a waxwork figure of Roger Moore pointing a gun at us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’re certain people that I idolise to bits. But, if I had waxwork figures of these people in my own fucking home, then please feel free to cart me off to a nut-house.

Anyways, after the opening credits, we’re back in London where Jimmy James Bond (Roger Moore) is called to his superior M’s (Bernard Lee) office. Bond is given a bullet with his code-name engraved on it, meaning Scaramanga has a hit on him. M tells Bond to stay undercover, until the matter is resolved. However, Bond stresses that his current mission of finding the Solex agitator (as well as its owner) is more important than Scaramanga. We find out that the Solex is a device that harnesses solar energy as a solution to the energy crisis. The writers of the film included the idea of the Solex, as the energy crisis was a real-life world issue at the time.

But I digress.

Anyways, Bond decides to hunt down Scaramanga himself and after receiving some helpful information from Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), he travels to a seedy club in Beirut where he charms a belly dancer into “giving” him a bullet that was used to kill another Double O agent. This leads Bond to a gun manufacturer in Macau and after forcing him to reveal information on where he sends Scaramanga’s bullets, Bond discovers that the bullets are collected by Andrea Anders. Bond follows Anders to her hotel in Hong Kong and this leads to a rather uncomfortable scene where he beats her for information on Scaramanga’s whereabouts. Now, I know old-school Bond is not a stranger to beating chicks (you wouldn’t get Daniel Craig going to town on a woman.) Even in the Ian Fleming novels, Bond was known for being a sexist prick. For Christ’s sake, Sean Connery wasn’t afraid to slap around his women if they stepped out of line. But this is smooth, light-hearted Roger Moore. He’s supposed to charm the woman, not beat her around. But I suppose Anders threatened Bond first with a gun, which is why he reacted badly. Still, it doesn’t make for comfortable watching.

Anyways, Anders tells Bond to go to the Bottoms Up club, as Scaramanga will be performing his next assassination there. At the same time, the creator of the Solex known as Gibson is having a meeting with MI6’s Chinese contact Lieutenant Hip (Soon-Tek-Oh), in the hopes of bargaining for immunity in exchange for the Solex. As the two men leave the club, Gibson is shot by Scaramanga and Bond is captured by Hip.

Fortunately, M is around to clear up the details, but not without giving Bond a bollocking for his screw-ups. However, Bond reckons there’s a lead and that involves business magnate Hai Fat (Richard Loo), as he apparently hired Scaramanga to kill Gibson. M therefore sends Bond to find out the connection between Hai Fat, Scaramanga and the Solex, but not without making him take an accomplice with him. Said accomplice happens to be the main Bond girl Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland). Ultimately the movie ends up being a topsy-turvy mix of silliness (i.e. sumo wrestlers), a blatant stereotype of the martial arts genre and some decent action sequences.

Notably, the scene where Bond and Scaramanga engage in a furious car chase across Bangkok has some great moments. Bond’s passenger is Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) who’s a recurring character from the previous movie. Even though he’s written as a typical redneck police officer, it’s good to see him back though, as he just makes me laugh. What ruins the scene is that fucking penny-whistle playing in the background, as Bond drives his car 360 degrees over a precarious scene It’s a great stunt, but man…that. Fucking. Penny. Whistle. Ugh. Plus, the scene ends on a silly note when Scaramanga’s car decides to turn into a plane with wings. I know it’s a Bond film, but scenes like that firmly put the film into one of the cheesiest aspects of the franchise.

Still, even though it’s not the best Bond movie, I’ve found it quite enjoyable this time round and it has some great scenes, along with some great dialogue. The final duel scene between Bond and Scaramanga is mint too.

Roger Moore still makes for a fine 007, despite the shocking cruelty to women, children and dwarfs! The other characters are engaging, too. Christopher Lee makes a great villain and has the right balance of being deadly, yet charming. Maud Adams plays a compelling character. Even though it’s a “woman in an abusive relationship” sort of character, she does a fine job. Nine years later, she plays another Bond girl called Octopussy and I think that suits her even better. Herve Villechaize is a decent henchman and provides the audience with a lot of giggles. (I mentioned an HBO docu-drama at the beginning of this review. It’s called My Dinner with Herve) and it starts Peter Dinklage and Jamie Dornan. I recommend you guys, as that’s a compelling drama).

As for the main Bond girl, well, Britt Ekland’s okay, despite being gorgeous looking. I know she’s meant to play a brainless sort of character, but I prefer the Bond girls to be a bit sharp-witted.

With that, I’ll leave you with some scenes that have been playing in my head for the last two weeks and what I’ve been annoying the Crow with. Peace!

Final Ratings

THE SWAN(!): 5.5/10


Here’s the official poster:

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