When long-time British Agent Harry Palmer (Sir Michael Caine) loses his job because the Cold War is over, he's promptly approached by Russian bossman Alex (Sir Michael Gambon). 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.
Although this movie is sometimes referred to as "Len Deighton's Bullet to Beijing", Deighton had no involvement in the production and, this movie was not based on one of his novels. See more »
During the chase with the Chechens in St. Petersburg, the two cars, Palmer's and the Chechens, are shown rounding a corner. The Chechens' car has a smashed right headlight, then an intact right headlight in the next cut, and finally runs over some trash cans in the following cut, inflicting the damage seen two cuts prior. See more »
[about to be thrown off a train at high speed]
You said you weren't a cruel man, Colonel. Can't we wait for a slow bit?
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The version that aired on The Movie Channel in 1997 was cut from 122 to 101 minutes. Among the scenes cut was Sue Lloyd's onscreen appearance. This version was released on VHS and DVD. In 2001, the full version was released on DVD as a "special edition". See more »
This was my kind of spy movie...really bad bad guys...really sexy sexpots...car chases...boat chases...mysterious trains crossing hostile borders and the worst gang of lousy shots you ever saw. They manage to dispatch any number of car windows but not very many people. But then it's hard to make a two hour movie if everybody dies in the first confrontation. Michael Caine is, well, Michael Caine. The plot is quite silly but that adds to its appeal. And there are great scenes in London, St. Petersberg and Siberia. The film captures the disorganized chaos of daily life in Russia and the devil may care attitudes of most Russians. (I've flown domestic routes on Aeroflot a couple of times. Believe me, the hilarious sequence in the movie of the flight to Irkutsk is not that much of an exaggeration.) It's probably more of a spoof than a spy thriller. But it's a damned good movie!
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