Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5 stars)

    Roger Moore as JAMES BOND
    Christopher Lee as FRANCISCO SCARAMANGA
    Britt Ekland as MARY GOODNIGHT
    Maud Adams as ANDREA ANDERS
    Hervé Villechaize as NICK NACK
    Clifton James as SHERIFF J.W. PEPPER

    Rated PG
    Studio: United Artists

    Directed by: Guy Hamilton

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In his second outing as 007, Roger Moore really starts to bring his humorous side to the James Bond franchise. In this installment, Bon is on the trail of Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), a high-priced assassin who kills his targets with a golden bullet. When a golden bullet marked with “007” is found, Bond sets out on a worldwide chase to find him. With the help of the beautiful Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) and Scaramanga’s own lover, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams), Bond tracks the mysterious assassin to his secret island where he’s building a solar-powered doomsday weapon.

The debate of who made the best James Bond will always rage among fans and critics. The reality is that most people favor the Bond they grew up with. For myself, who started seeing these movies in the 1970s, I first identified Roger Moore as James Bond, and while it may offend some, I always got a kick out of his style. (Even then, I did like Sean Connery and can appreciate all the other Bonds... except for George Lazenby, who was really pretty lousy.)

“The Man with the Golden Gun” was the first film that actually allowed Moore to get into the role without having to live up to Connery. Those who don’t like Moore’s style saw this as the beginning of the dark days, but I’ve liked all of his films, and “The Man with the Golden Gun” was fun to watch. It has all the elements of a Bond film: beautiful women, cool gadgets, awesome stunts and a great villain.

Christopher Lee makes the perfect Bond villain, and even though his name is a bit cheesy, his dastardly plot and freaky henchmen (namely his own evil Tattoo named Nick Nack) played well into the pop culture of the day.

After shifting Bond from Connery to Lazenby and back to Connery for one film, the franchise finally settled into a groove with Roger Moore, and this film really laid the groundwork for the continuing franchise that spanned two healthy decades.

When I think of James Bond, I can’t help but think of the 70s era with Roger Moore. These were the films of my childhood, and I will always enjoy them.

Looking back, there were elements of the 70s that did seem a bit goofy. The funhouse motif of Scaramanga’s lair seems really goofy by today’s standards. Plus, the second appearance of Clifton James as Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper was cute in a contained way but really pushed the limits of Bond silliness, even for me.

Seeing a brilliant release on Blu-ray, this Bond film includes 1080p hi-def with lossless audio, which is the best way to experience Bond at home. Unlike some run-of-the-mill releases, “The Man with the Golden Gun” is worth the Blu-ray buy for the presentation alone. The bonus material has seen previous releases on the many DVD versions, but it comes packaged and coded very nicely in this release.

Additional special features include two commentary tracks, one featuring Roger Moore and the other featuring director Guy Hamilton along with members of the cast and crew. Other standard features include trailers, TV spots, radio advertisements and image galleries.

The Blu-ray format offers an interactive database, which breaks out the different elements of the film, from the opening titles to the gadgets to the Bond girls. There is also an original documentary “Inside The Man with the Golden Gun” which takes the viewer through the production of the film.

Featurettes include “Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks,” “Roger Moore on Hervé Villechaize,” “On Location with The Man with the Golden Gun,” “Girls Fighting” featuring the martial arts twins from the film, Roger Moore on “The Russell Harty Show” and “Double-0 Stuntmen” which highlights the stunts in all the Bond films up to the late 90s.

One of the more interesting features is a spotlight on the signature stunt of the film, which flips a car over a river, landing on all four wheels.

Bond fans, especially those who liked Roger Moore.

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