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You Only Live Twice video sleeve graphic You Only Live Twice

Starring Sean Connery

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

You Only Live Twice is another of Sean Connery's early James Bond films. Again the villain is the sinister criminal organization SPECTRE, only this time it is using a reusable SSTO rocket to capture Soviet and American space capsules, with the intention of leading the US and USSR into mutual nuclear destruction so that SPECTRE can pick up the pieces afterward.

In the opening scene they capture a US capsule with a spacewalk in progress, snipping the astronaut's lifeline and sending him tumbling in space to his death. Then it cuts to the scene where Bond is (apparently) mortally wounded by an ambush during a romantic liaison.

However, it turns out that Bond didn't die and his funeral was faked. A pair of SCUBA divers rescue him from his "burial at sea" (he had a secret air supply and was in a trance state) and take him into a Royal Navy submarine (at this time his being an officer in the Royal Navy was still a major element).

From there he is taken to Japan, where he is to track down SPECTRE's secret headquarters. He encounters all manner of treachery, including the murder of his expatrate informant by ninja, in a Japan that is just becoming the industrial powerhouse it is today, while still retaining a considerable amount of its exotic traditional East-Asian charm.

In the climax, Bond leads a team of ninja into the SPECTRE headquarters (having been initiated into a ninja clan and disguised as a Japanese, albeit a tall one). In a very violent firefight he frees the captive astronauts and cosmonauts, then destroys the SPECTRE base.

In the final scene, he and his Japanese lady (who considers herself "ugly" because she doesn't fit the classical Japanese ideas of beauty, but is quite a comely young woman) are floating along in a liferaft, intending to get some romantic time in, when they get an unwanted rescue from that Royal Navy submarine with more orders for Bond.

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Review posted December 16, 1998

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