by the Grinch
Screw what anyone says, this is one of the most entertaining Bond flicks. And if you don't think so, you can kiss my cheeky twins, honky!Double Agents have been mysteriously disappearing in the dark recesses of the United States and the Caribbean Isle of San Monique. So, guess who's called in to investigate?
"James Bond vs. Dolemite! Well, sort of."
Well, the plot's pretty simple as always. Bond discovers evil madman's plans, evil madman reveals all to Bond before attempting to dispatch him in an elaborate manner, Bond escapes after henchmen stupidly leave him unattended, Bond nails the bad guy's girl, then dispatches bad guy dramatically and gets some serious shagging in before the end credits roll. Finis.
But wait, there's a great cast and script here...
Many talented black actors are employed to great effect. Yaphet Kotto, one of the most underappreciated character actors of our time, adds a special spark of intelligence, savvy, and charisma to ambassador-by-day/crimelord-by-night Kananga. Likewise with art collector/dancer/actor/7-up guy Geoffrey Holder, who seems to be the personificaiton of the lascivious voodoo entity "Baron Samedi". Julius Harris, as the giggly mechanical-armed TeeHee, plays one of the most memorable Bond henchmen since Odd Job. Jane Seymour plays the babe-a-licious Solitaire, Kananga's tarot-reading prophetess who has yet to feel the touch of a man. Yup, I'd definitely like to Seymour. Clifton James plays Sheriff J.W.Pepper, the spittin'n'grinnin good ole boy whose counterparts have undoutedly ticketed me more than I care to recollect. And lastly, Roger Moore makes his debut as Mr. KissKissBangBang himself, and watching him in action reminds me of why he's the best of the bunch. The ticky eyebrows, the witty comebacks. When Moore says something wry, he says it seemingly without KNOWING he's just said something clever...it's as if he's just honestly making an observation. Being of average appearance, Moore had to work doubley hard, and it shows.
The most unique thing about this film is that it occasionally pits Bond against seemingly supernatural forces. The script has so many delightful nuances and strays from the formula a bit, but without ruining the solid pace you've come to expect from a Bond movie. 'Q' is suprisingly absent from the film, therefore you won't find many of the nifty gadgets that you may have seen in other films...everything Bond does, he adlibs, and the gadgets often don't work or aren't used as intended. Another neat plus is that the foe in this film has slightly more humble aspirations than usual. And up until Bond, erm, holds all the cards, Solitaire's tarot readings are Kananga's most reliable source of information, while diametrically, Kananga secures his drug operation and exploits his island's citizens by playing on their voodoo superstitions.
Another delightful plus is the non-political correctness of the movie. Nobody was afraid to call a spade a spade (and, trust me, I'm directly quoting the movie here). Much of the movie plays out like a corny 70's blaxploitation film, which is to say it's delightfully dated and goofy. Of course, the movie itself is absolutely ridiculous, full of caricatures and 2 dimensional adversaries and one-night stands. What else did you expect?! But the beauty of it is you never doubt these things for one minute because you're so entirely immersed and entertained. Nevermind that the nightclubs that 007 walks into could be sets straight out of "Black Caesar" or "Cleopatra Jones". Nevermind that half the time it seems like street musicians should be following Bond, playing the Shaft theme while he walks the streets of Harlem. Just sit back and soak in the ambience, the clever escapes, the witty banter, the kickass badguys, the sexy senoritas, and the well-choreographed action scenes.One of my favorite dialogue snippets (and trust me, this film is full of them!)-
Bond: "The name's Bond, J-"
Kananga:"Names is for TOMBSTONES, baby! Ya'll take this honky out back and waste him, NOW!"
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originally posted: 12/23/99 22:23:05