Bullet to Beijing (1995)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Action, Thriller  |  20 December 1998 (Germany)
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Reviews: 18 user | 8 critic

A retired British spy is called back into service by his government to help prevent North Korea from getting its hands on a deadly virus called "The Red Death."



(screenplay) (as Peter Welbeck)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anatoly Kulbitsky ...
Shaughan Seymour ...
Corinna Richards ...
Tamara Timofeeva ...
Elderly Woman
Anatoliy Shvederskiy ...
Doctor (as Anatoly Shvedersky)
Helena Michell ...
Juliette Benson ...
Patrick Allen ...
Col. Wilson
Annika Bullus ...
Girl in Savoy Bar
Chris Tulloch ...


When long-time British agent Harry Palmer loses his job because the Cold War is over, he's promptly approached by a Russian bossman, Alex. In St. Petersburg Alex tells Harry of his plan for Russia's future, which is threatened because a deadly biochemical weapon called the Red Death has been stolen from him. He'll pay Harry handsomely to retrieve it. An ex-spy friend tips Harry off that it's being sent to Beijing by train, aboard which we begin to learn whose side everyone's really on. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Ipcress File's Harry Palmer is back.... and the Cold War is heating up again! See more »


Action | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, nudity and language | See all certifications »



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Release Date:

20 December 1998 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Len Deighton's Bullet to Beijing  »

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Did You Know?


Although this film is sometimes referred to as "Len Deighton's Bullet to Beijing," Len Deighton himself had no involvement in the production and the film is not based on one of his novels. See more »


In the end credits roll at the end, Special Effects is spelled "Special Effets". See more »


Alexei: I'm not being overly dramatic, Mr. Palmer, when I say the fate of the world is in your hands.
See more »


References Funeral in Berlin (1966) See more »


Go West
Written by Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali and Victor Willis
Performed by The Village People
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User Reviews

The Return of Harry Palmer
6 April 2002 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

I first broke into the Harry Palmer series when I thought Midnight in St. Petersburg sounded like a good film in the TV guide, and it had Michael Caine in it. Since then (realising there was more of it)I've become quite a fan of the series, not really minding if it was the vintage 60s or the modern 90s.

Bullet to Beijing was the fourth film out of the five that I've seen (I've yet to see the somewhat rare Billion Dollar Brain) and I thought it was a good film, certainly worthy of at least a 6.5 rating on IMDB. I know fans of the vintage 60s were somewhat opposed to this even being made, because it was obviously not going to be as good as The Ipcress File.

And it's not. The Ipcress File is still the best of Harry Palmer, but I thought this was the second best of the series. I found Funeral in Berlin to be mind-numbingly tedious, and Midnight in St. Petersburg didn't quite live up to this one.

First thing, I'm going to address a few issues regarding plot holes or continuity. Make no mistake, this is one of those films you'll probably have to watch twice or even three times to fully comprehend all that's going on. You have to concentrate on it, you can't watch it and talk on the phone at the same time. So most plot holes are probably down to something the viewer missed (I certainly thought that the first time I watched it).

This certainly isn't vintage Palmer, and I give it credit for not trying to be. Palmer is on the verge of retirement anyway, and so he's not going to be as quick or sharp as he once was (at least they didn't try and pretend he was still young!). Even so, he's still somewhat quick-witted and amusing, the milk in the tea joke being my favourite. He doesn't run from danger, something present in all the movies, even when he's being followed by the mafia, he's fairly daring once he's got away from them.

As for the film itself, it's very fast-moving and fluid. There are a LOT of twists and turns in the plot, but I like the fact that's it's all within the time limit of the train arriving in Beijing, who's going to make it there etc. The trouble with something like the Ipcress File was the amount of free time Palmer had, and so it would sometimes seemingly stand still, whereas the train journey here gave it an edge.

That's my humble opinion anyway, maybe I'm just uncultured. This certainly doesn't have the class of the 60s, but it makes up for it with the action, humour and plot-twists.


Incidentally, if you can get hold of it, there's a special edition DVD where Sue Lloyd has a slightly bigger role than a voice on the telephone.

15 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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