James Bond Movie Review: You Only Live Twice


In honor of the 60th anniversary of James Bond, I’m revisiting and reviewing all the movies. Next up, You Only Live Twice! Read on for my thoughts on this classic in the James Bond film franchise.

The Story

James Bond is assassinated by Chinese agents in Hong Kong, but it is a ruse so that Bond can travel incognito to Japan and investigate the hijacking of American and Russian spacecraft. Together with Tiger Tanaka and Aki of the Japanese Secret Service, Bond traces a supply of liquid oxygen, which is use to fuel rockets, to a southern Japanese island. So that Bond can live on the island without arousing suspicion, he becomes Japanese in appearance, trains with Tanaka’s ninjas, and marries Kissy Suzuki. Bond and Kissy look into the mysterious death of a fishing girl, and discover that SPECTRE, commanded by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, have a secret rocket complex hidden inside a volcano. Bond, Tanaka, Kissy and the ninjas attack the base, and stop Blofeld from detonating a nuclear war between Russia and America, but Blofeld escapes, leaving the base to self-destruct.

Double-O Insights

Stunt performer Vic Armstrong was the first ninja down the ropes inside the volcano set – his first Bond film for the future 2nd Unit Director

It was Producer Cubby Broccoli’s wife Dana who came up with the idea to dispatch the baddies car with a giant magnet and dump them in the middle of Tokyo Bay

Sean Connery’s wife, Diane Cilento doubled for Mie Hama in the diving/swimming scenes because the Japanese actress was not a confident swimmer

Wing Commander Wallis made 85 take-off and landings (46 hours in the air) in his autogyro on location to get seven and a half minutes of screen time

The sumo wrestlers would not ‘fake’ a match and therefore this scene was shot with a real match taking place and a crowd of 8,000

The volcano set cost more than the entire budget of Dr. No

Every lamp in Pinewood Studios was used to light the volcano set

My Thoughts

“You Only Live Twice,” the fifth installment in the iconic James Bond series, is a sensational rollercoaster of action, drama, and charm. Released in 1967 and directed by Lewis Gilbert, this classic film features the impeccable Sean Connery reprising his role as the suave and resourceful British Secret Service agent James Bond. With an engaging plot, unforgettable characters, and a breathtaking blend of exotic locations, this film firmly establishes itself as a standout entry in the franchise.

The plot of “You Only Live Twice” is an enthralling mixture of espionage and science fiction. When an unidentified craft in space mysteriously captures a US spacecraft, the world is thrust into a tense situation as the United States blames the Soviet Union for the act. To prevent a war, Bond is sent to Japan to investigate and uncover the true culprits. The story is filled with twists and turns that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. At the same time, the introduction of SPECTRE and its diabolical leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Donald Pleasence, adds depth and intrigue to the narrative.

In “You Only Live Twice,” Connery showcases his undeniable charm and sophistication as James Bond, proving once again why he is often considered the quintessential embodiment of the character. His chemistry with the Bond girls, including the alluring Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) and the captivating Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), is palpable and adds a delightful touch of romance to the film. In addition, the supporting cast, including Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka and Karin Dor as Helga Brandt, delivers commendable performances that contribute to the film’s overall appeal.

The cinematography and locations in “You Only Live Twice” are breathtaking. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene countryside of Japan, the film transports viewers to an exotic world filled with beauty and intrigue. The movie’s most memorable set piece, Blofeld’s volcanic lair, is a visual masterpiece that showcases the creativity and attention to detail that went into the film’s production design. Furthermore, the film is enhanced by John Barry’s captivating and atmospheric score, perfectly complemented by Nancy Sinatra’s haunting title track.

In conclusion, “You Only Live Twice” is a brilliant entry in the James Bond series that offers a riveting story, exceptional performances, and stunning visuals. Sean Connery’s iconic portrayal of James Bond, combined with the introduction of SPECTRE and its sinister leader, ensures that this film remains a fan favorite even after all these years. With its thrilling action sequences, breathtaking locations, and unforgettable moments, “You Only Live Twice” is a must-watch for seasoned Bond enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

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