|Man With the Golden Gun, The (1974)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 22 May 2009|
In 1974, after "Live and Let Die," Moore reprised his role as Bond in "The Man With the Golden Gun." During the start of the energy crisis, this film makes an attempt at addressing the issue. With oil-based resources depleting, the gang is out for the secret to solar energy. Bond is currently working on trying to persuade a scientist to join the government. However, when the villain, Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) apparently sends a golden bullet engraved with 007, M takes Bond off the case. He asks for Bond's resignation, which isn't going to fly. No one knows what Scaramanga looks like or where he is located, but they know absolutely everything else about him, even his childhood. Not likely, but I'll go with.
Bond proposes that the tables would turn if he were to find Scaramanga first. Following the lead that 002 was killed by Scaramanga, he tracks down the golden bullet that was never found. As it turns out the bullet was made into a belly button ring by a bell dancer in Beirut. Once retrieved, Q's team is able to determine exactly who made the bullet. Bond proceeds to China where he persuades the maker of Scaramanga's bullets to give up his source. Bond follows Andrea, Scaramanga's "personal assistant."
Arriving in Hong Kong, Bond tracks Scaramanga down to the Bottoms Up club. As it turns out, Scaramanga is really after Bond, but rather the scientist who contains the prototype of the solar energy device. Meanwhile, Hong Kong police take Bond into custody as a cover in order to get Bond away from the scene and to British Intelligence hidden away in an overturned ship.
Everywhere that Bond goes, there is always a female liaison. In the case of Hong Kong it is Miss Goodnight. She is infatuated with Bond, and of course Bond is more than willing to be with Goodnight. However, they keep getting interrupted.
Bond is able to persuade Andrea to retrieve the solar energy device and meet him at a karate tournament. Scaramanga learned of her betrayal and she appears dead on the scene. Scaramanga meets Bond at the tournament instructing him not to follow him. Bond could care less as he recovers the solar energy device and hands it off to Goodnight. Unfortunately for them, Scaramanga is aware of all this and kidnaps Goodnight in the trunk of his car, which happens to turn into an airplane.
The final showdown takes place on Scaramanga's private Chinese island. It isn't suspenseful enough for me, but all the loose ends are tied up. It is probably one of the more comic endings to a James Bond film.
"The Man With the Golden Gun" has been preserved remarkably well. The original cinematography and production value may be cheap, but the transfer is not to blame for that. The image source is free from nearly all dirt and blemishes. Only a few scratches pop up every now and then and they are hardly noticeable. I was pleasantly surprised that there was only a fine layer of film grain present. The details are a bit all over the place. There are times in which objects and costumes contain plenty of textures and details. However, overall the image is bit soft. In fact, there is one scene when Goodnight and Bond are having dinner, in which all of Goodnight's shots are all blurred while Bond's shots are incredibly detailed. The colors are realistic, but not quite vibrant enough. The black levels are fairly good and shadow delineation in low light sequences is impressive. The contrast levels are all normal, but quite bland compared to today's films. However, I found it refreshing to not see tweaked contrast and brightness levels.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1, and also included is the original mono audio track. The original mono track is rather narrow and bland. However, the re-mastered 5.1 audio track has problems as well. Most noticeably, the 5.1 surround track suffers from the precedence effect and phasing. The algorithm applied to the mono track files of the original mix creates some problems when placed into multiple audio channels. It appears that no decorrelation was performed on the tracks when re-mastered. The dialogue is anchored to the center channel. Dialogue is generally intelligible, however it sounds boxy in comparison with other films of the same time period. In addition to the dialogue the sound effects are also weak. However, it is hard to blame the transfer for this, as it is more of the original sound design. The LFE channel pops in a few times during the film but is generally absent. The music has been spread across all the channels, but like I mentioned earlier, the music sounds phased due to the algorithm. There is nothing truly discreet in the surround channels. Frequency response of the track is uneven, but again I believe it to be a condition of the original sound design,
At first glance, it appears that that the Blu-ray package comes with quite a bit of bonus materials. However, when really examined, most of the extras are simply one to eight minute little snippets that don't amount to much. There are two lengthier featruettes, which is about the only thing worth it in this package.
First, there are two audio commentaries. The first commentary is with Roger Moore. The second is with director Guy Hamilton and other members of the cast and crew. Neither track is really that engaging. Most of the information can be found in some of the other featruettes.
Some of the short featurettes included here are; "Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks," "Roger Moore and Herve Villechaize – The Russell Harty Show," "On Location with 'The Man With the Golden Gun,'" "The Road to Bond: Stunt Coordinator W.J. Milligan Jr.," "Girls Fighting" and "American Thrill Show Stunt Film."
The two most interesting featurettes are "Double-O Stuntmen: A Look at the Greatest Stunts and Stunt Performers in the Bond Films" and "Inside 'The Man With the Golden Gun' – an Original Documentary." The former has nothing to do with the actual film, but rather all the Bond films in general. The latter is a one half of an hour and is a good substitute if you don't want to listen to the audio commentary.
Lastly, there is an interactive guide, some theatrical trailers and TV spots and a photo gallery.
"The Man With the Golden Gun" is an engaging and silly Bond film. I would recommend this as one of the neater Bond films out there, but certainly not the best. The audio quality is not superb but it adequate once you move past the psychoacoustic problems. The video quality is excellent considering the production value of the film. I would recommend taking a look at this disc.