You Only Live Twice (1967) Poster

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Bond goes East.
mylimbo19 September 2009
This particular 007 entry (which was intended to be Sean Connery's last before he would agreed to return one more time for his sixth shot as 006 in 'Diamonds are Forever (1971)' and lets not the forget the unofficial 'Never Say Never Again' in 1983) was the first Bond film I encountered and from that it has always remained a total favourite. "You Live Only Twice" we see Bond travel to the land of the rising sun (Japan) in what is quite an expansive concept (dazzling set-designs with spectacular non-stop action) and very well-budgeted effort that lingers on a extremely comic-book-like tone (thanks largely to Roald Dahl's industriously well-guided screenplay that plays its cards close to the chest) with its characters, atmospherics and set-pieces that for me would make it one of the most creative and exciting inclusions to the series.

Bond heads to Japan racing to uncover the true mastermind behind the space-jacking that could see another world war, as British sources believe that the mysterious rocket ship which has seized American and Russian space shuttles originates from there, but those countries believe otherwise than each other for the acts.

Couple of things which made it more the memorable would be that it's the first chance we get to see arch villain SPECTRE Agent #1 Ernst Blofeld's face, than just the hand stroking the cat… although the first hour we get enough of that. It's a devilishly meaty Donald Pleasence who just seemed the part of Blofeld. Now who didn't love the hidden lair that was in an inactive volcano, and of course Blofeld's pool of pet piranhas. The inventive gadget novelty was really making a mark, just look the deadly mini-copter named 'Nelly' and the dangerous effects of smoking around others. Strangely enough the (witty) script seemed to spit out a few self-knowing quips involving cigarettes, which became rather odd. Director Lewis Gilbert (who would go on to control the very similar in story-structure "The Spy Who Loved Me" and then following that the plain goofy "Moonraker") does a tersely capable job with a fast moving pace that shifted from one well organized set-piece to another (like the chase on-top of a rooftop in a fishing docks that's masterfully captured by cinematographer Freddie Young) to finally finish on a barnstorming climax (with none other than ninjas) and then a familiarly fitting final frame. Sean Connery might look a little tired (a bit funny trying to make himself look like Japanese under make-up), but remains just as charismatic and fittingly lean when it came to getting down and dirty (Bond and his tussle with Blofeld's massive henchman Hans comes to mind). The bond girls shape up nicely in the form of Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama and the stunning German redhead Karin Dor. Tetsurô Tanba was good as Bond's Japanese counterpart. Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn treat us to their iconic roles. John Barry's classy music score has a smoothly oriental touch, which can get actively copious when called for and theme song "You Only Live Twice" is enticingly sung by Nancy Sinatra.
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Bond-san, Blofeld, Asian Delights and Production Value Supreme.
Spikeopath1 May 2012
You Only Live Twice is directed by Lewis Gilbert and written by Roald Dahl. It stars Sean Connery, Tetsuro Tamba, Teru Shimada, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama, Karin Dor and Donald Pleasence. Music is scored by John Barry and cinematography by Freddie Young.

Bond 5 and Connery once again tackles the role of 007. With American and Soviet space craft mysteriously vanishing from space, both nations are laying the blame at the other's door. Sensing a nuclear war could break out, M assigns Bond to Japan to investigate if there might be a third party stirring the hornets nest. Teaming up with the Japanese secret service, Bond uncovers evidence that SPECTRE is behind the plot to pitch the East and the West against each other.

This organisation does not tolerate failure.

Thunderball had broke box office records for Bond, gadgetry, outlandish stunts and a quip on the tongue had proved most profitable. It was planned originally that On Her Majesty's Secret Service would be number 5 in the series, but a change of tack to go for You Only Live Twice as the story gave producers Broccoli & Saltzman the scope for a giganticus enormous production. However, it may be set in Japan and feature a Bond/Blofeld conflict, but Roald Dahl's script bares little resemblance to Ian Fleming's source novel. Although a massive financial success with a Worldwide gross of over $111 million, Bond 5 took $30 million less than Thunderball. Strange since this is a better film. Can we attribute the drop to it being a space age saga? Maybe, the rebirth of sci-fi was a few years away, and of course Bond had lost some fans who had grown tired, like Connery, of 007 relying on gadgets instead of brains and brawn to complete his missions. There was also the rival Casino Royale production, as bad as it was, to contend with, while the spy boom created by Bond had been overkilled elsewhere and was on the wane.

Extortion is my business. Go away and think it over, gentlemen. I'm busy.

True enough that You Only Live Twice has flaws, though they are far from being film killers if you like the gadgets and hi-techery side of the franchise? Connery announced once production was over that he was leaving the role of Bond behind. He had been close to breaking point after Thunderball, but finally the media circus, typecasting, the fanaticism and the character merely being a cypher for outrageous sequences, led Connery to finally call it a day. His displeasure shows in performance, oh it's professional, very much so, but the swagger and machismo from the earlier films has gone. Although Dahl's script tones down the "cheese" dialogue and unfolds as a plot of considerable World peril worth, characterisations are thinly drawn, making this reliant on production value and action sequences. Thankfully both are top dollar. And the ace up its sleeve is the long awaited face to face meeting of Bond and Blofeld.

The firing power inside my crater is enough to annihilate a small army. You can watch it all on TV. It's the last program you're likely to see.

Ken Adam's set design is fit to grace any epic in film history, as is Freddie Young's photography around the Japanese locales, Barry lays a beautiful Bond/Oriental score all over proceedings and Nancy Sinatra's title song is appealingly catchy. The action is excellently constructed by Gilbert (helming the first of three Bond movies on his CV), with the final battle at Blofeld's volcano crater base full of explosions, flying stunt men, expert choreography and meaty fights. Along the way we have been treated to Ninjas, Piranhas, poison, aeroplane peril and the awesome Little Nellie versus the big boy copter smack down! Then there's that Bond/Blofeld confrontation. Well worth the wait, with Pleasence visually scary with bald head (setting the marker for bald villainy to follow in TV and cinema it seems) and scar across his eye. Pleasence is also very low key with his menace, which is perfect, we don't want pantomime and the scenes with Bond work wonderfully well.

It made less than the film before it and it has fierce critics in Bond and Fleming circles. But it's a Bond film that pays rich rewards on revisits, where the artistry on show really shines through in this HD/Upscale age. 8/10
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Old school Bond, but still one of the most fun Bond movies.
vip_ebriega8 June 2007
My Take: Another fun Bond entry. Great Bond, fun villains, neat gadgets, and enjoyable action.

"You Only Live Twice" is business as usual for Bond. Not much new, and Connery seemed bored playing his role (explaining his disappearance in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"). There is a lot to like in this film. Connery in "You Only Live Twice" is easily comparable to FROM Russia WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER, but as Bond, he already has established that he is the best in the business and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE does give him much to do.

This film does carry the original tradition of Bond. This time around, Bond is sent to Japan to investigate the disappearances of American space shuttles. While the United States suspect it's Russian interference and threaten to retaliate, the Brits faked 007's assassination, in order to clear the way for Bond to investigate what really is going on.

Some areas of YOLT are pretty campy (some of the patterns for the AUSTIN POWERS parodies are pretty evident), but the camp is part of the fun. It's a throwback to the good ol' not-to-be-taken-seriously adventure espionage fun. This is formula Bond, but loaded with great action, neat gadgetry ("Little Nellie" is one of the most beloved Q gadgets) and the glorious sets by the one-and-only Bond veteran Ken Adam make it another high-flying, if not exactly groundbreaking, Bond adventure and one of he series' more fun entries.

Rating: **** out of 5.
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Welcome to Japan Mr Bond
Dock-Ock26 September 2001
You Only Live Twice is pure Comic Book entertaiment. James Bond is very much the superhero character he was in Goldfinger, and every scene is like a panel in a Comic Book and filled with entertaining excitement. In truth, it is though the feel and style that was vibrant throughout Goldfinger [1964] leapfrogged the dull Thunderball [1965] and found it's way to Japan. Twice is a beautiful looking and sounding addition to the Bond movies, and one is glad Sean Connery didn't really resign from the role of Bond and did indeed Live Twice.

By jettisoning most of Ian Flemmings original story You Only Live Twice, in wich an amnesiac Bond Hunts down Blofeld in Japanese castles, Broccoli and Saltzman have ridden themselves of the same problem evident in Thunderball : Slow Movement, Uninterested Audiences. Thunderball may have been a success, but this was probably due to the Bondmania wich raged through the mid sixties like a giant inferno. Luckily for the fans of the eye popping spectacles the Bond series is famous for, You Only Live Twice contains no such problems of dreary moments of boardom. In its place we have a Space Age actioneer written by childrens author Roald Dahl, and an entertaining and swift director in Lewis Gilbert, who seems more suited to Bond than any director yet.

It has been said before, but the real star of the show is Ken Adams sets. His wondefull Volcano set wich Blofeld uses is one of the most memorable in Cinema history. Add to this the Japanese sets, the Submarines [M's Offices], Tanaka's Lair, and the real sense of Japanese authenticy. Adam deserves an Oscar for this movie alone. For his total contributions to Bond and other movies, there is no Award yet created.

Donald Pleasence makes a very creepy Blofeld. He is perhaps the ultimate Blofeld. His scenes with the other cast members show the complete acting skills of a fine actor. Twice also contains one of Desmonde Lywellyn's funniest performances as Q,and one of Q's finest creations, the Little Nellie Helicopter. Little Nellie is every Bond fans dreams, personally i think it would be lovely to soar above rural England in Nellie, let alone Japan! Some guys have all the luck! Twice also has one of John Barry's most beautiful themes,and songs sung by Nancie Sinatra.

The only real let down this time is Sean Connery. He makes any Bond film look good, but this time doesn't look as though he is enjoying himself all that much. This is a petty bacause Twice itself is a very impressive and enjoyable Bond movie, with some of the best sets, Action sequences and Acting in the entire series.
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This one belongs to Ken Adam
grendelkhan20 November 2004
This one is a triumph for Ken Adam's sets. The volcano base is the most memorable feature of the film. Oh, the story is fun and the gadgets are cool, but those sets really sell the film. They would inspire countless imitations and variations throughout the years.

Finally, we get to see Bloefeld, and it's a bit of a letdown. Donald Pleasance is a fine actor, but he's not quite supervillain material; more of the serial killer variety, in the mold of Peter Lorre. Still, he is by far the superior on-screen version.

The Japanese cast are all outstanding. Special mention should be made of Peter Maivia, grandfather of Dwayne Johson, aka The Rock. He and the stuntmen create a brutal fight scene, second only to the train fight in FRWL, although this is perhaps more inventive.

As for gadgets, outside of the jetpack from Thundrball and Goldfinger's Aston Martin, Little Nellie is the coolest ride. The aerial scenes are spectacular and are one of the highpoints of the whole series.

This film really marks the end of the ultra-cool Bond films. After this, they tend to go down in quality, taken as a whole. Some have better stories and villains, some have better stunts, but they are never the complete package that the earlier films were. Still, this one (along with Goldfinger and Thunderball) would inspire every spy work that would follow; from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to Our Man Flint, Marvel Comics' Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.e.L.D., to the X-Men. Everyone stole an idea from here.
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One of the most entertaining Bond movies.
Boba_Fett113821 March 2006
It's not the best but it most certainly is one of the most entertaining Bond movies to watch. Because of that reason, "You Only Live Twice" is one of my favorite Bond movies.

Basically the movie is just simple silly fun. The story is very simple and at the same time also totally unbelievable but also because of this the movie is extremely entertaining to watch. As an action movie this movie is really great. The movie is truly filled with many spectacular, if a tad over-the-top action sequences. Most action sequences don't even make sense that they occur in the movie, once you really start thinking about it but that is all part of the charm of this entertaining movie. It's a very imaginative movie that has some unforgettable sequences in it, that are both thrilling as well as spectacular.

The movie is mostly set in the culturally rich Japan. It works as a perfect backdrop for the movie and the strange unusual culture helps to make the movie an imaginative filled one. Also sequences like with 'Little Nellie' and the end fight set in the hollowed-out volcano add to the adventurous and imaginative feeling of the movie.

Ken Adam is also one of the reasons why everything in the movie works so well. As a production designer he made the right backdrops for the story and made several elements of the movie work out surprising well, such as mainly all of the sequences in the hollowed-out volcano.

Also the musical score by John Barry and the cinematography by Freddie Young are worth mentioning.

Sean Connery is good and fun as always as James Bond and he still showed good form in this movie. This time Ernst Stavro Blofeld was played by legendary actor Donald Pleasence. He takes the movie to an even higher level. He plays the best Blofeld out of the long series of Bond movies, along with Telly Savalas who played the villainous character in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".

This is a fantastic fast paced, action filled movie, that has some spectacular and unforgettable sequences in it, especially toward the ending. One of my personal favorite Bond movies, of which I never grow tired of watching it.

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Nothing that will blow you away, but it's certainly an entertaining Bond outing
callanvass6 October 2013
(Credit IMDb) Agent 007 and the Japanese secret service ninja force must find and stop the true culprit of a series of spacejackings before nuclear war is provoked.

This is the first of the movies that involve Blofeld as the main villain, and probably my favorite. It's nothing that is overly memorable, but I managed to enjoy myself for almost two hours or so. The action is consistently exciting. Adding a Japense flavor to it was also a unique choice. Sean Connery is excellent as per usual as Bond, but special mention must go to Donald Pleasence as Blofeld. He is by far the greatest actor to play Blofeld in my opinion, and I don't know why he relinquished the role, or at least I never heard about why he didn't come back. Mie Hamma provides a different change of pace for a Bond girl, and I rather liked her to be honest. She had some good scenes with Connery.

Final Thoughts: Nothing overly special, but it's definitely entertaining for the most part. Recommend for Bond fans who have yet to see it, or action fans in general

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One Of The Best Bond Movies
Theo Robertson23 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I notice this movie has warranted much criticism and some people have gone as far as dubbing it as the worst of the Connery Eon productions ! What you mean it's worse than DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER ? I don't think so and it's certainly better than than THUNDERBALL which spends most of its time with Connery - Or more likely a stuntman - submerged under water . At least with this movie we get to see Connery's manly handsome features

I do agree there are certain flaws to the screenplay . One is the plot which lacks logic . Spectre are manipulating the superpowers into starting a nuclear war ! Can anyone see what a ridiculous idea this is ? There is some historical context to this since Mao thought because of the large population of China if there was a third world war his country would come up trumps and if I remember correctly he stated in the mid 1960s that " Even if we lose 300 million of our citizens China would still survive " which just goes to show that he wasn't perhaps the cleverest of people . It's insinuated heavily without being spelt out that China is paying Spectre to cause the war but what is Blofeld getting out of this apart from 100 million dollars in gold bullion ? At least in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME you can understand why the villain would want to see a nuclear holocaust but Blofeld seems entirely ignorant that you wouldn't be able to trade or spend anything after world war three .

There's also a few other little irritants . Much of the movie is beautifully paced but Bond's burial at sea is again illogical and holds up the story . I mean why don't the Royal Navy just dump a weighted down dummy into the sea and come to think of it doesn't the " Bond is dead " charade just seem entirely stupid in the first place ? How if Bond was alive the Hong Kong police say he was dead ? Were they part of the conspiracy ? For an intricate plot it seems to involve a ridiculous number of people for it to work effectively . Same as the Bond pretends to be a Japanese fisherman subplot . Couldn't the Japanese secret service just land him on the island via boat instead of putting him in a ninja training camp ? There's also something else that is totally unexplained : Bond rescues two Soviet cosmonauts and an American astronaut then one of these characters disappears from the narrative when Bond and the two others knock out the Spectre spacemen then these two characters likewise disappear from the story . It might sound anal of me but I was very annoyed that I never found out what happened to the three space kidnap victims

Despite these flaws YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is a tremendously entertaining movie . As I said from one or two unnecessary elements ( This would become a serious problem in the latter movies ) it's beautifully paced and contains some great set pieces with special mention going to the chase scene on top of a warehouse and this is the movie where we finally get to see the face of Blofeld . Again I notice that some people aren't all that impressed with Donald Pleasence's performance but I think it's an excellent portrayal of a megalomaniac , he's aloof and attached , almost Hitlerite and compare it to the campy style other actors have played him in

Perhaps not as good as DOCTOR NO or GOLDFINGER but this Bond film is much better than most other in the franchise
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Outrageous James Bond escapade, enormously enjoyable despite being nothing like the source novel.
Jonathon Dabell28 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
An entertaining and fast-paced fifth entry for Sean Connery as James Bond, You Only Live Twice audaciously (and cheekily) chooses to ignore the plot of the original novel and instead hurtles along its own merry route. Working from a screenplay by children's' author Roald Dahl, director Lewis Gilbert fashions a thoroughly enjoyable slice of escapism, brimming over with witty dialogue and outrageous action sequences.

Following the "swallowing up" of an American space shuttle in orbit by an unmarked enemy shuttle, the U.S angrily accuses Russia of stealing their spacecraft and threatens to declare war if any similar incidents take place during their forthcoming launch. The British remain unconvinced that the Russians had anything to do with the crime, as they suspect the enemy shuttle (the one which swallowed up the American craft) actually came down somewhere in Japan. James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Japan to figure out what is going on before it's too late. He quickly establishes that his old adversaries SPECTRE are the masterminds behind the scheme, but try as he might he cannot trace their operations base, which seems to be concealed in a remote volcanic region. Aided by the head of the Japanese Secret Service, Tiger Tanaka (Tesuro Tamba), Bond races against the clock as Armageddon beckons in an effort to find the criminal lair and put an end to SPECTRE's sinister plot.

You Only Live Twice is totally different to the first two movies in the series (Dr. No and From Russia With Love) because it is intentionally extravagant and far-fetched. This is more a continuation of the style of Bondage we came to know and love in number 3 (Goldfinger) and number 4 (Thunderball). If anything, this one reaches an apotheosis of sorts in terms of ludicrous set pieces. Connery is brilliant as Bond (he had really had his fill of the character by this point, but was professional enough to hide his boredom while the cameras were rolling). Also, Nancy Sinatra belts out one of the greatest theme tunes ever to grace the series. And Ken Adam deserves to be showered with accolades for his amazing set designs, the pinnacle of which is the volcanic base used by SPECTRE (to this day, it remains the best baddie's lair ever seen in a movie). You Only Live Twice might not be one for the purists, but for anyone wanting to be exhilarated and entertained it really hits the mark.
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Q introduces 'Little Nellie,' a flying version of the Aston Martin…
Nazi_Fighter_David16 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Throughout Bond's career, the SPECTRE chief had lurked behind the scenes, masterminding horrific crimes and dispensing ruthless punishments to those who disappointed him… The "You Only Live Twice" mission revealed that evil had a human face… Blofeld's love of animals extended beyond his white Persian cat: he also kept piranhas… His fishy friends, capable of stripping a person to a skeleton in minutes, were not just for show…

'You Only Live Twice' takes place entirely in Japan... The script is a return to a 'From Russia with Love' type plot in which SPECTRE, backed by Red China, enters the space race by playing off the Russians and Americans... The agent of his plans is a specially designed Intruder rocket which captures spacecraft and returns them to SPECTRE chief Blofeld's secret Japanese volcano hideout...

To trick SPECTRE into lowering his guard on British Secret Service activities in Japan, Bond manages to fake his own death... Under the eye of SPECTRE agents, he is given a proper Naval burial at sea aboard a destroyer in Hong Kong, and his body is sent to the bottom of the harbor where a team of frogmen recover it and bring it to a waiting submarine...

Bond, wearing his full Commander's uniform, is alive, thanks to a special aqualung, and he reports to M aboard the submarine...To avoid further detection, he is placed in one of the submarine's torpedo tubes and fired towards the Hong Kong shore to investigate the missing satellites...

His contact is Henderson (Charles Gray—who later played Blofeld in 'Diamond Are Forever'), who informs Bond of Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba), the youthful head of the Japanese Secret Service... Tanaka forged a strong working relationship with Bond… The centers of his operation were an underground Tokyo HQ with its own subway train, an ancient castle, and a training school for his Ninja force…

Although the film does develop a flavor for the Far East—with its beautiful women, emerging technology, and ancient customs—the movie's story is a less than compelling one… Impressive set pieces take over center stage at the expense of a sustained dramatic structure… And "You Only Live Twice" jumps up from villain to villain, escapade to escapade, until the final assault on the volcano rocket base puts 007 up against Blofeld for the first time…

In spite of pushing aside a bowl of oysters, and drinking his favorite martini 'stirred, not shaken,' plus Russian vodka and Japanese sake, Bond—lacking his usual charm— is given little to do in the story… The women in the film are actually much more interesting than him… Aki and Kissy are the advance guard of the new Bond girl—less breathless females who have more equality on the firing line… In other words, they hold their own with Bond and help him out of more than a few scrapes with death…

Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) is 007's guardian angel in Tokyo… She drives an exotic Toyota 2000 sports car, and wears fancy Western outfits… Kissy (Mie Hama) managed to resist Bond's advances—at least until the mission was accomplished…

Helga Brandt (Karin Dor) turns out to be totally unaffected by Bond's charm... Schooled in the Fiona Volpe-style of assassination, she decides to give Bond a taste of what she has to offer before leaving him to figure a way to escape the falling plane...

Nevertheless 'You Only Live Twice' isn't a bad film, and it does star the best Bond... It also holds off high points: John Barry's most romantic musical sequences, Freddie Young's cinematography, and Moneypenny—very smart in naval uniform—connives to have Bond say 'I love you,' a password chosen for this mission...
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