You Only Live Twice (1967) Poster

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Bond goes East.
lost-in-limbo19 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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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 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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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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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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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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BOND#5: Kill Bond! Now! says Blofeld Revealed
Bogmeister29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
MASTER PLAN: foment World War III between the U.S. and Soviet Union by stealing some orbiting space capsules. Bond almost gets into outer space in this one, literally a step away (he'd finally make it in the much later "Moonraker"). And that's where the teaser begins, a reflection of the anxious space race between the super powers during the sixties. This film also reflected how 'hot' the Cold War was at this time, when seemingly the slightest provocation could cause a devastating escalation - precisely what SPECTRE, notably Blofeld, wants. We thought SPECTRE played its ultimate hand in the previous "Thunderball." Here, instead of just stealing nuclear warheads, the sinister organization gobbles up entire space ships, a blatant attempt to establish itself as a new super power - a 3rd one - following up on the hints in the previous Bonders. Expectedly, there are fantastic special FX for the time to convey all this ambitious power playing. This marked a shift to all-out science fiction, although traces of traditional espionage remain. The teaser is actually divided into two parts, with the 2nd half devoted to another 'false death' for Bond (see From Russia With Love's teaser). Nancy Sinatra sings over the credits and at the end, a more languorous and lyrical effort than the bombastic tempos in previous films.

Bond spends his mission in Japan in this one, since this is where it appears the criminal space craft originates from. In a slight deviation of protocol, M and Moneypenny have also set up quarters in this area, in a least likely spot. Many of the early scenes convey this sleight of hand, where nothing is as it appears to be, but then the plot starts to meander a bit. Despite some fine action bits, notably against a burly Japanese thug and a unique long shot of Bond's rooftop struggle, the middle act comes across as almost a travelogue of the Orient's better scenery. It's nice to look at, yes, perhaps the most exotic of the Bonders, but on the slow side, a conceit which would plague many of the future Bonders. Q shows up with his contribution, a miniature helicopter, which almost seems like an advertisement for the company who made this weird prop, though there is an impressive aerial battle against some standard helicopters when Bond attempts some scouting. Similar to the use of sharks in the previous film, this has a pond of piranha, always a guaranteed crowd pleaser, accentuating the outrageous aspects of Bond villains. To the film's credit, several fine Japanese actors were cast, including a couple of Bond girls (another film company might have cast white actors in all the main roles, despite the Japanese setting). I especially liked the poignant oriental-flavored musical score during Bond's wedding, though this entire subplot makes little sense. There's even a tragic tone to one of the character arcs, though Bond accepts this like a good soldier, a sign of Connery's less energetic approach by this time.

The casting of uber-villain Blofeld, however, was not very inspired. The actor Pleasence is always excellent and actually lends himself very well to eccentric villainy, but it didn't quite work here. After sensing the power emanating from this mysterious figure with the reverberating voice in "From Russia With Love" and "Thunderball," one can't help but be unimpressed by Pleasence's limited stature, both physically and vocally. He actually reminded me of a stunted version of another comic book villain, Baron Strucker, introduced a couple of years earlier in the 'Sgt.Fury' Marvel Comics. The fact he shows up so late, a la Dr. No style, was probably just as well. His bodyguard, the brute henchman, doesn't speak and functions merely as a tall combatant for the now standard mano-a-mano with Bond towards the end (tho their walking towards each other was a stylistic triumph). Connery himself appeared noticeably older than in the previous Bonders; though still physically fit, you sense he was past his prime - not desk-bound just yet, but slowing up, and his lack of jovial sarcasm during Q's lecture denoted a little too much seasoning by this point. This does have a spectacular finish, with literally a hundred attacking ninjas on the greatest Bond set so far, underneath a fake lake in a volcano. Bond would return, but Connery would not, in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Bond:8 Villain:7 Femme Fatales:7 Henchmen:5 Fights:8 Stunts/Chases:8 Gadgets:8 Auto:6 Locations:9 Pace:7 overall:7
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YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (Lewis Gilbert, 1967) ***
MARIO GAUCI24 November 2008
Solid entry in the James Bond saga – Sean Connery's fifth appearance as the secret agent in a row (his last, in fact, until DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER [1971] and, eventually, the non-series entry NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN [1983]) – featuring a lovely title tune by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse sung by Nancy Sinatra.

The relocation to Japan for the main action (resulting in impeccable photography courtesy of the renowned Freddie Young, who also contributes an inspired aerial shot of our hero at the center of a rooftop chase/struggle) adds much-needed novelty in the exotic department – though characters tend to be less well developed as a consequence. Tetsuro Tamba is imposing enough as his 'sidekick', but the all-important Bond girls have no distinguishing features – save for Karin Dor, a typical femme-fatale-ish villainess who manages to trap Bond in an unpiloted plane. Similar expansiveness was shown in Ken Adam's elaborate design of Ernst Stavro Blofeld's headquarters, hidden within the crater of a Japanese volcano; other attention-grabbing devices include Bond being 'killed' in the prologue (thus explaining the title), while he's later given an Oriental 'countenance' and even made to 'marry' a Japanese girl (an irrelevant undercover attempt, as it happens – since there is very little interaction between Bond, his local allies and the enemy before the final confrontation in the volcano interior)!

Its plot involving the abduction of space shuttles belonging to the U.S. and Russia, in the hope of provoking a war between the major powers, again plays on the fears of nuclear annihilation palpable during the Cold War era. Incidentally, this is the first time Blofeld himself steps in as chief villain (played with appropriate menace by Donald Pleasence – with a handy piranha-filled stream underneath a sliding bridge to replace the pool-sharks from the previous installment, THUNDERBALL [1965]). By the way, Charles Gray (Blofeld in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER) appears in a bit here as Bond's ill-fated contact in Japan! The most prominent gadget invented by Q (the ubiquitous Desmond Llewellyn) in this case is an artillery-equipped mini-chopper – employed in a sequence whose filming unfortunately cost an aerial photographer his leg!; there's also a memorably violent brawl which has Bond and his opponent lashing at each other with heavy living-room couches!

The show, then, is climaxed by one of the most spectacular action bouts in the entire saga – for which Bond recruits Tamba's ninjas to fight the minions of SPECTRE; Blofeld, of course, is allowed to go free this time around…since he'd be involved in at least three subsequent direct matches with 007. Given that director Gilbert lived up to the challenge of ably following in the footsteps of Terence Young and Guy Hamilton, it was only natural he'd be asked to helm further Bond adventures – though, by the time THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) and MOONRAKER (1979) came along, Roger Moore had firmly established himself in the role.
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Bond #5: Made in Japan
unbrokenmetal29 June 2008
Easy to say which two things I remember best about "You Only Live Twice": the volcano base Ken Adam designed and the little helicopter Bond uses for his exploration of the volcano area. Roald Dahl's script brought better story development and less cheesy dialogs than in "Thunderball". Donald Pleasance played Blofeld extremely eccentric, almost sickening. Between Claudine Auger in the previous Bond and Diana Rigg in the next, "You Only Live Twice" does not really have just one leading lady, there are a few sweet Japanese girls around including Mie Hama and Akiko Wakabayashi, and among the baddies, Karin Dor appears as a redhead threatening to torture Bond when he is captured. The location of Japan had a lot to offer, from the modern skyscrapers to the traditional island villages, and let's not forget those sumo wrestlers ;-). With the 5th Bond, the hype had meanwhile become so huge that Connery was annoyed and said "never again" - for the first time...
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Understated Bond Film
DKosty1236 October 2006
When I first saw this in a drive-in in 1967, the opening sequence of this with Bond being shot did not make a big impression as this is the first Bond film I had ever seen. After the credits, the snatching of a space craft made an impression as it looked very much like the simulations CBS used to broadcast of the real flights. While this plot & some of the special effects seem a little dated & far fetched now with the passage of time, Sean Connery is great as his usual Bond self in this one. Donald Pleasance is very effective as the heavy Blofeldt, one of several actors who took a turn at it.

The scenery of 1960's Toyko, Japan are nostalgic now. The thing which makes this Bond a little special is the understated way the humor is handled. Using "I Love You" as a password for one thing. Of course, the irony of the line "This can save your live - this cigarette," is still pretty effective. All the regulars in the series are here with Q much in evidence. This one is still a very pleasant diversion for a rainy afternoon.
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One of the worst Bond movies
karimnash14 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I probably would have ranked this movie much higher if it wasn't for the 30 mins of the movie devoted to turning Bond "japanese" and training him to be a Ninja. They arrange a marriage for him as well to a local Japanese girl who is also actually an agent. It all is completely unnecessary and has no relation to the overall plot at all. I mean the guy is a highly trained British agent. Why does he need to be trained as a ninja to go investigate a suspicious volcano crater.

Aside from that ridiculous plot sequence, the whole SPECTRE organization starts to look real stupid at this point and you really see where Austin Powers gets most of it's material. At one point while number one is holding his cat, it looks like its ready to freak out and is desperately trying to jump out of his arms. The whole thing is rather comical.

I know Bond movies are supposed to be a little silly, but this one is mostly just dumb and annoying.
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One life is enough for Bond
Jawbox57 July 2015
Bond Review.

Title: Sounds nicely mysterious and fits the context of the film.

Pre-Titles: A US spacecraft gets swallowed by a larger unidentified craft and we then cut to Bond in bed with a girl in Hong Kong as he is seemingly killed. This is a pretty causal opening, you'd think Bond's apparent death would be shocking but it isn't exciting or shot with any particular suspense. The space scenes haven't date well and there's also a lack of tension with them.

Theme Song: Nancy Sinatra does a good job with the title song, but once again it is John Barry's work that stands out. The string section adds elegance to the song and that main hook just gets stuck in your head making this a memorable theme.

Plot: After the US spacecraft is taken, the Americans blame the Soviets and a third World War becomes a possibility. It is believed that Japan is where the spacecraft came from and, after faking his death, Bond is sent there to find out who it was. This is a relatively simplistic plot in all honesty, but it works due to it being easy to follow and because it feels like there is a real global threat if Bond is unsuccessful. The problem is that the film slows down in a number of areas to the point where you almost lose interest in what is taking place.

James Bond: Sean Connery is on auto-pilot here and looks completely uninterested with the material he is given. He's visibility aged since Thunderball and had clearly got bored with the role. Bond looks exhausted throughout the film, doesn't deliver the lines with any real wit and takes an even more slapdash approach to his work than usual.

Bond Girls: Akiko Wakabayashi is decent enough as Aki. Though the character is underwritten, but she has chemistry with Connery and has a natural charm that makes her likable. Mie Hama is very dull as Kissy. She gets involved in the action, but has even less development, the relationship with Bond comes off as only being there for the ending and they don't even mention her name.

Villains: Donald Pleasence shows up as SPECTRE leader Blofeld and despite limited screen time he does a good job. His interpretation of Blofeld is of a sinister mastermind with a ruthless approach and a cold monotone voice to go with it. He isn't much of a physical match next to Bond and he might be a little too eccentric, but he certainly has a creepy quality to him and is memorable. Karin Dor is excellent as femme-fatale Helga Brandt, she is believable as someone who could seduce Bond and she has an attractive presence on screen.

Support: Tetsuro Tamba is good fun as Bond's Japanese associate Tanaka. He brings a lot of charm to the role and gets in the thick of the action, convincing as both a friend and a top-notch agent. Bernard Lee is as good as always, whilst Moneypenny and Q also get some decent scenes here and there.

Action: The action is decent but nothing truly special. We get some car chases, many fist fights and suitable bits of espionage which are all serviceable, yet none of them contain much excitement or are shot all that well. The scene with the Little Nelly aircraft is fun, but it has no sense of danger to it. The climax is enjoyable for the sheer amount of people involved and how overblown it is, but like Thunderball, it suffers from too much going on.

Score: John Barry is as good as ever when it comes to delivering a score filled that evokes exoticism and danger. Many tracks have an oriental sound to them which is perfect for the Japanese setting and creates a lot of atmosphere for certain scenes.

Production Values: Ken Adam deserves the applause for his superb set work here. Blofeld's volcano lair is an absolutely fantastic design and looks as grand as anything ever put in the series, perfect for such a big antagonist. The editing isn't great here and as said many parts of the film are really slow. There is a general lack of energy about the film, the excitement that the previous films managed to craft is clearly waning at this point. The whole section were Bond gets married and becomes 'Japanese', and it's as dumb as it sounds, is incredibly boring and adds nothing at all to the plot. Author Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay and despite a few good lines there a no bits of dialogue that stick with you. It's nice to see some Japanese culture, but not if it gets in the way of the story. With that said, setting it in Japan was a very good idea as it allows us to see Bond within yet another new environment.

Conclusion: You Only Live Twice is pretty much the ultimate just okay Bond film. There are a number of impressive moments, but there are a lot of very dull moments too. At this point the films were running out of steam and it frequently shows. As said Connery is completely uninterested here and most of the action is uninspired which harms the overall quality. For all the good aspects like the location, sets and Pleasence's sinister Blofeld we have bad aspects like the weak Bond girls and the tediously slow pace. It has its memorable moments, but it just isn't that enjoyable or engaging compared to what had come previously.
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petra_ste2 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Even seen after many years, You Only Live Twice inspires a strange sense of familiarity right from the start - when you remember Robbie Williams' hit Millennium borrowed its theme from Nancy Sinatra's catchy opening song.

Then you have Donald Pleasence's bald, diminutive Blofeld, who has become the template for endless super-villain spoofs with his weird robotic accent, fluffy white cat, volcano lair (with a piranha pool, no less) and ludicrous procrastinations to kill 007 when he has the chance. It's a campy portrayal - for example, his "Kill Bond! Now!" line seems delivered by a malfunctioning cyborg - but at least a memorable one: the worst sin a Bond villain can commit is being boring (Quantum of Solace).

Interesting how this is one of the rare Bond adaptations where the movie is less preposterous than the source material. In the book, Blofeld builds an exotic garden with poisonous plants to instigate suicide tourism - and then, in a sublimely kitsch note, struts around it clad in a Samurai armour.

It's unfortunate Connery seems below his par - not still Diamonds Are Forever or Never Say Never Again bored, but he appears to have lost a certain spark, the infectious vitality which made him memorable in the first movies of the series. His Bond's success at disguising himself - a burly, heavily-accented Scotsman pretending to be a Japanese fisherman - might be more improbable than any hi-tech gadget, but that's suspension of disbelief for you.

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An OK more subdued Bond
willcundallreview11 May 2014

You Only Live Twice is a maybe slightly more subdued Bond, however this film contains near all the trademarks we have to come to expect from James and a villain who is just insanely rich. Set around the one location for the majority of the film, you may also be mistaken this drags a lot, it doesn't though and becomes a solid plot which moves and throws you off the scent of predicting what is next to happen, I felt this was firmly an OK film, and here is why.

The story is pretty absurd and as said, for this to work, the villain would literally have to be the richest man ever, but in general, this is good fun. It has a good mix of fighting and charm to be a Bond that portrays all the hallmarks of the series yet also introduces a new side to Bond where he actually does some good spy work. I loved the gadgets and sets in this which in the story make it great to look at also.

Sean Connery maybe falls slightly from his first four roles and this is far from his or the series best, but Connery still manages to churn out an entertaining Bond and with all the kind of crazy things in the plot he deals with it well. Donald Pleasance does a fine job as the villain and his strange grace coupled with his evil side make him a very diverse villain who you just can't predict what he'll do next.

This Bond to me seemed more talky than the previous instalments, and with the author Roald Dahl writing the screenplay it is no surprise the dialogue is strong. I said before about the sets because in this film you see them more than any other film and Ken Adam does a fine job especially with the Volcano scene(you will see what I mean), he just masterfully makes these little sets without having to use special effects used in modern cinema.

The main problem with this film is that it is very dull and very little happens in the middle and towards the end, with Bond doing his spy stuff right it is fair to say, although he also never engages the audience and watching him mull around with his Japanese friends affects the plot intensely. It could also be said this was one of the first of Bond to contain the over use of humour, but I think it depends on the viewer if they like the Bond humour used.

Bond fans should be pleased by this and those who's favourite is Connery shouldn't be put off him with this piece, although nowhere near the quality of the first four. People in general may find it like I did, dull, but you may also have a lot of respect for Bond here as he doesn't fly around the world constantly and stays on one plot in one place, like a real life spy.

Overall I give this a 6/10, a solidly OK film that is not near to being Good, but escapes being just OK. With this you have to enjoy the subdued story to enjoy it because if you go in expecting what he did in Thunderball, Goldfinger etc then you will be bitterly disappointed. One more thing to say is that this is Connery's last role as Bond where the comedy isn't overused so savour it if you dislike the more humorous route that Bond went down In the 70's/80's.
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Manages to Entertain Fairly Well
Uriah4321 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
An American spacecraft in outer space has been swallowed up by an unidentified flying object. The Americans blame the Soviets. The Soviets deny the allegation. In the meantime, "James Bond" (Sean Connery) is set up by an attractive Chinese woman named "Ling" (Tsai Chin) and is murdered. Or at least that's what MI5 wants the world to think. From the information they have been able to gather the unidentified flying object has touched down somewhere near Japan and that is where James Bond is sent to investigate. But he only has a short time because the Americans are planning on launching another rocket and have warned the Soviets that they will declare war if anything happens to this one. At any rate, rather than go into great detail on what happens next and risk spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that this film probably doesn't receive as much attention as some of the others in the James Bond series. Personally, I enjoyed the location, the music and the way Mie Hama ("Kissy") looked in her white swimsuit. Be that as it may, while it may not be the best James Bond film ever produced, it manages to entertain fairly well and I have rated it accordingly.
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The Great Japanese Bond
SnoopyStyle13 December 2013
This is the 5th Bond movie. SPECTRE is at it again. This time they are hijacking the spacecrafts of the two superpowers setting them up against each other. Sean Connery returns as James Bond. The great Donald Pleasence is the evil Blofeld with his white cat.

This one takes place in the far East mostly in Japan. That's one of the charm in this one as it goes into a foreign culture more deeply than just simple postcard backdrop. The plot is as outlandish as ever with a volcano rocket base. It doesn't get crazier than that.

Sadly, Sean Connery had enough with the character and the hype. After this, he quits the franchise for the first time. It's too bad because this is one of the cooler Bond movie with the Japanese influences and the ultra-cool rocket base. And there is nothing better than killing by piranha and ninjas.
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The Classic James Bond Movie!
John Mango13 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I would highly recommend this film to anyone who has seen any of the Austin Powers movies and would like to see where Mike Myers got his ideas. It has all of the Bond clichés and then some:

1. Crazy Gadgets (Cigarettes that shoot rockets) 2. An incredibly evil villain with a cat 3. An enormous evil lair with guys in the background who arbitrarily turn knobs to make it look like they're doing something. 4. Insane plot-ideas (Bond is transformed into a Japanese man to maintain cover on a secret mission*) 5. Girls that fall in love with Bond, but needlessly die in his stead and are later on replaced.

This film is good in its own right and it's the reason that Casino Royale was such a good change of pace. You Only Live Twice is highly entertaining regardless of what level of Bond fanatic you are.

*The scene in which Bond is being reconfigured to look Japanese is very similar to the scene in which Gary in Team America: World Police is altered to look Middle-Eastern.
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you can see why Sean Connery was getting disenchanted with the series
Lee Eisenberg30 April 2006
After "Dr. No", "From Russia with Love" and "Goldfinger" were all so cool, "Thunderball" seemed to be getting tacky, and "You Only Live Twice" seems even more so (granted, it's still worth seeing). This one has James Bond (Sean Connery) going to Japan to investigate the disappearances of American and Soviet spaceships. Since the superpowers are blaming each other, there could be a nuclear holocaust if Bond doesn't find out the truth. Sure enough, the culprit turns out to be SPECTRE. And SPECTRE's leader Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) looks like he could be Dr. Evil's father, natch.

Oh well. The point of these movies is to have fun, and you sure will with this one. If nothing else, there's always a plethora of hot women, and this one even has the two women from "King Kong vs. Godzilla". Passable.
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Despite its flaws (There are quite a few), I still enjoyed it
MF21010 January 2004
My Rating: *** out of ****.

Out of all Connery's Bonds this is the one that is rather hidden. The first four films he did were most famous. Diamonds Are Forever is famous for being one of the worst Bonds and for Connery's huge salary. But You Only Live Twice is rarely mentioned. Thats too bad because it is a highly enjoyable Bond.

You only Live Twice contains exacly what Bond Fans expect: A Fast-Paced Plot, Great Action Sequences, Beautiful Girls, and some Nice Locations. All of these mix together well. This film is not without problems, but there is so much good here that make this an enjoyable Bond.

One of the weaknesses has to do with the plot. The space scenes are more than a little hokey. They always seem to stick out. Sometimes the score makes them better than they deserve to be. In Goldeneye, there was a space related weapon that seemed to work much better in that film.

Another weakness is the lack of a good villain. Donald Pleasance does an ok job as Blofeld but nothing that standsout at all. The make up makes him look more intimidating than he should be.

A minor problem has to do with the script. The script was written by Roald Dahl. For the most part, he does seem to understand Bond. But there was a one liner that was excruciatingly bad ("Just like a drop in the ocean"), what kind of a one-liner is that. Connery could not even deliver it straight which makes it stick out.

One thing that I liked in You Only Live Twice was the nice relationship that developed between Bond and Aki. It also ends on an ironic note. That was something I had not seen much in a Bond Film.

I was pleasantly surprised by You Only Live Twice. There was a bit of Japanese flavor in it that interested me. A very underrated Bond Film.
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You Only Live Twice (1967) Review
vgamerdc21 December 2013
For You Only Live Twice, being the fifth Bond film, I am giving 5 moments that represent this film.

1. Secret Volcano Lake Lab Thing

2. Dr. Evil (not actual name)

3. Asians

4. Spaaaaaaaaace

5. Ninjas!

This film is just sooooo good! The color was fantastic, as usual, so I don't think I have to keep saying that in these reviews. Also, the plot is great! The fact that—sorry I forget his actual name so I'm just going to keep calling him—Dr. Evil (who was #1 in Thunderball) appeared again was awesome. I really enjoyed the hidden volcano lair.

Funny story; I have seen all of the Bond films before at least once, and I didn't know which film this was somehow! I had thought that each scenes/element of the film were a bunch of others Bond films. Turns out my memory was completely off. I had guessed that the film was Moonraker for some reason—probably the whole space thing—and was shocked to find that it wasn't! Now I have no idea what Moonraker is about! Oh well, the more you know!
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Script keeps Bond fresh...another adventure takes Bond to Asia
Robert W.6 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I think one of the biggest things that has kept the Bond franchise alive for longer than any other series is that they never fail to keep things interesting. Ian Fleming wrote the books as diverse as they come and You Only Live Twice might not be the best Bond but it does open a lot of plot and takes some very nice twists and turns. Some say that this film was the disenchantment for Sean Connery and that it became campy and corny to some degree but I think that is exactly what the Bond series has always been. The campy humor and even Bond himself is a little bit cheesy and I think You Only Live Twice continues on that tradition and adds a little spin by putting Bond into the Asian setting. The film starts off with a bang having Bond fake his death. We discover more about James Bond and a little bit about his navy history. There is plenty of action and beautiful women and scheming SPECTRE agents and I think the highlight of You Only Live Twice is the fact that we finally get to see #1, the mysterious head of SPECTRE who has been nothing more than a hand petting a cat in the earlier films. Add in some training to Bond by a clan of Ninjas and you've got a classic Bond film campy or not.

I still stand by the fact that Sean Connery is the ultimate James Bond. He is just always suave and beds the ladies like no one else. It's almost annoying now how often Connery ends up in bed with random women. I know it's a Bond staple but really it gets in the way. Connery does seem a little blah about the role but he still gives it his all and is as fun to watch as ever. The terrific Donald Pleasence is deliciously evil and looks terrific as the mysterious head of SPECTRE and doesn't actually make an appearance until the last half hour of the movie. He is a little campy as well but the scar is very cool. There also isn't much of a final battle between him and Connery. Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell return to their perspective cameo roles that made them famous as Bond's boss and flirtatious secretary. Akiko Wakabayashi is the Bond girl and she has much less of a role than some of the other Bond girls and yet her and Connery have excellent chemistry together.

You Only Live Twice is epic in scale going from space to the waters of the Pacific to Japan. It has everything that makes the Bond films great including the trademark humor and Bond camp. The pure scale of the SPECTRE hideout inside the volcano is very cool and the Ninja attack is something to behold. This was years before the special effects of nowadays and it's easy to tell what a grand scale this was. The Ninjas and the SPECTRE agents battling makes the film worthwhile alone and is truly stunning to watch. Regardless of where on the scale You Only Live Twice is to you if you're a Bond fan or you want to see the Bond films then this one is one that you won't be disappointed in. Check it out!! 8/10
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