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4.4 out of 5 stars
You Only Live Twice [Blu-ray] [1967]
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
For his fifth cinema outing superspy James Bond is sent off to Japan in another fight against SPECTRE. This time the criminal organisation is trying to start world war three using captured Russian and American space vehicles.

There are big thrills aplenty as Sean Connery's Bond stumbles around in Japan, trying to uncover the threads of the scheme. Bond gets into scrape after scrape leading to ever more impressive escapes and stunts, all of which builds up to the thrilling final showdown which is suitably action packed and full of big bangs.

Introducing Bond's nemesis Blofeld for the first time, here played by a very creepy and evil looking Donald Pleasance, and the idea of a supervillain hiding out in a disused volcano lair, this is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Characterisation takes a bit of a back seat to the stunts, but it is an exciting ride none the less.

This ultimate edition really is the best version of the film I have owned. The picture has been lovingly restored and cleaned up, and looks amazing. Really, I am not just saying that. It looks superb. The sound has been similarly treated and there is an option to listen to it in 5.1 DTS surround, which is truly exceptional.

As well as the superb presentation of the film, there is also a host of extras, original trailers, informative audio commentaries and the such. These are exhaustive and some of them quite interesting. But these really a garnish for the main course, which is the film itself.

This is an excellent release, and does this classic film justice. This series of `Ultimate editions' really sets the standard for film releases. It really does not get any better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2014
Sean Connery is my favorite James Bond by far and although I'd rate this film below 'Dr.No', 'From Russia With Love' and 'Goldfinger', it is still a very enjoyable Bond film and holds up very well despite it's age. The big climatic end sequence is a little cheesy and some of the special effects are, ahem, a bit dated. Having said that, I watched Roger Moore in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' directly after this and the special effects in that were not much better that this one. Still, Connery's presence and magnetism holds the whole film together well and I loved the Japanese settings.
On the bluray itself, the picture quality is very good for such an older film. About 3/4 of the way thru tho some intermittent vertical scratches or lines appear on the screen and appear randomly over a period of about 5 mins. This film had a restoration so I don't know if they missed this or didn't have the technology to fix it. Not a huge deal but still a bit surprising.
I imported this from the US as the US discs have a significant advantage for purists over the UK release. In addition to having the new lossless dts-HD audio, the US disc includes the original Mono audio. I recently read a review with some of the sound engineers who worked on the earlier Bond films and they were all quite shocked and disappointed that the UK disc omit these as they felt the original audio, be it a simple Mono (or Dolby Surround track on 'The Spy Who Loved Me'), are more suited to the films. I toggled back and forth during the film and indeed, I felt some of the artificially added sound effects (on the dts-HD track), particularly in the rear channels, were not so subtle.
The US disc (this disc is from the US Bond 50 boxset that includes all 23 films including 'Skyfall') plays perfectly on UK region 'B' bluray machines.
All in all, apart from the slight glitch with the scratches in the video, I am absolutely delighted with this disc.
No one has matched Sean Connery in my opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
Growing up in the 1970's, seeing James Bond films on TV was always something of a highlight and , for me, "You only live twice" always seemed the best one of the lot. Granted that Sean Connery's performance as James Bond was pretty much definitive until Daniel Craig's re-interpretation of the role, this film also benefits from having the actors in the locations as opposed to back projections and some impressive set designs - not least the rocket launch pad hidden within the volcano. In fact, I feel that the sets on this film very much set the tone for the way the franchise would develop in the way that there became so modernistic.

Watching this film again nearly forty years later, it is amusing to note some elements which are a bit clunky (villains falling down in some of the fight scenes when they haven't been hit!!) yet I felt this film matched my perception. The story is excellent and there are plenty of moments where the excitement levels are at a peak. It is also worth recalling that "You only live twice" has the better ever Q-branch gadget, "Little Nell" and the scene where this is deployed against Blofeld's helicopters is amongst the many highlughts of this film. Other classic Bond elements include the villain's trap floor into the pirnaha tank, the glamorous Japanese women and the memorable incident where Bond is trapped in the pilotless light aircraft. In summary, this is almost the perfect James Bond film and effectively set the template for the way the films would ultimately develop when Roger Moore eventually took over the role in the next decade. After hugely enjoying this film, it seemed strange that Cubby Broccoli followed up with "On her majesty's secret service" which , despite the protestations of some that it is a neglected masterpiece, is a miscalculation in comparison with this gem. 10/10.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Faced with box-office rivalry from the spoof Casino Royale the same year, EON put aside their plans to follow Thunderball with OHMSS and pulled out all the stops to promise the biggest and best-paced Bond to date. While they failed to match the phenomenal success of Thunderball - still the biggest ticket seller in the series' history by a huge margin - this certainly is the best of the special effects show Bonds, and for many it's scarred, bald, Persian-cat stroking super-villain ensconced in his hollowed-out volcano lair plotting to start a world war is the quintessential Bond movie villain. Departing from Ian Fleming's novel in all but name and boasting a plot the producers were so taken with that they've used it at least twice since The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, both also directed by Lewis Gilbert), but by 1967 the series was already beginning to feed off itself - the pre-title sequence where Bond is killed is more or less borrowed from From Russia With Love.

After years as an offscreen presence voiced by Eric Pohlman and Joseph Wiseman, S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s Ernst Stavro Blofeld finally makes his first on-screen appearance in the form of Donald Pleasance (causing that awkward continuity problem in the subsequent OHMSS where he fails to recognise Bond), with Charles Gray preceding his turn in the role on the side of the angels as our man in Japan, getting his vodka from the doorman at the Russian embassy ("among OTHER things"). This time the villains work for a large Japanese industrial company to cash-in on the Connery films' popularity in the Japanese market while offering some colorful locations, but action, not scenery, is the order of the day here. The action scenes themselves are terrific and often imaginatively shot (as with the long overhead helicopter shot in the fight at Kobe Docks) and the production values are still the best of the entire series. Visually it is certainly the best looking of the series thanks to Freddie Young's incredible photography, while Ken Adams production design is superb and the lush score marked a real turning point for John Barry.

Roald Dahl's screenplay strangely discards Blofeld's garden of death (too downbeat said the producers) and omits Bond's Japanese counterpart Tanaka's background as an ex-Kamikaze pilot (too sensitive) but has just the right internal logic to justify its outrageous elements, as well as some neat humorous touches (such as Bond being constantly castigated for his smoking). Although many fans were critical of his approach - Dahl made little secret of his opinion that Bond was a 'resourceful but rather insensitive fellow' - he is more astute about the character than many writers in the series, bringing Bond's smug superiority to the fore in lines like "You forget I took a First in Oriental languages at Cambridge."

It's particularly disappointing that the 2-disc set only includes five minutes of the very entertaining and surprisingly comprehensive hour-long Whicker's World special on the making of the film, which revealed Connery's fondness for Custard Creams. We do get the glossier and less interesting 48-minute Welcome to Japan, Mr Bond (which makes an injoke of the fact that OHMSS had originally been scheduled to be made that year by having an unseen actress complain that she was supposed to be Mrs Bond) and Ken Adams' home movie footage, but there's not enough new from the original single-disc edition to justify the `Ultimate Edition' tag here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Faced with box-office rivalry from the spoof Casino Royale the same year, EON put aside their plans to follow Thunderball with OHMSS and pulled out all the stops to promise the biggest and best-paced Bond to date. While they failed to match the phenomenal success of Thunderball - still the biggest ticket seller in the series' history by a huge margin - this certainly is the best of the special effects show Bonds, and for many it's scarred, bald, Persian-cat stroking super-villain ensconced in his hollowed-out volcano lair plotting to start a world war is the quintessential Bond movie villain. Departing from Ian Fleming's novel in all but name and boasting a plot the producers were so taken with that they've used it at least twice since The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, both also directed by Lewis Gilbert), but by 1967 the series was already beginning to feed off itself - the pre-title sequence where Bond is killed is more or less borrowed from From Russia With Love.

After years as an offscreen presence voiced by Eric Pohlman and Joseph Wiseman, S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s Ernst Stavro Blofeld finally makes his first on-screen appearance in the form of Donald Pleasance (causing that awkward continuity problem in the subsequent OHMSS where he fails to recognise Bond), with Charles Gray preceding his turn in the role on the side of the angels as our man in Japan, getting his vodka from the doorman at the Russian embassy ("among OTHER things"). This time the villains work for a large Japanese industrial company to cash-in on the Connery films' popularity in the Japanese market while offering some colorful locations, but action, not scenery, is the order of the day here. The action scenes themselves are terrific and often imaginatively shot (as with the long overhead helicopter shot in the fight at Kobe Docks) and the production values are still the best of the entire series. Visually it is certainly the best looking of the series thanks to Freddie Young's incredible photography, while Ken Adams production design is superb and the lush score marked a real turning point for John Barry.

Roald Dahl's screenplay strangely discards Blofeld's garden of death (too downbeat said the producers) and omits Bond's Japanese counterpart Tanaka's background as an ex-Kamikaze pilot (too sensitive) but has just the right internal logic to justify its outrageous elements, as well as some neat humorous touches (such as Bond being constantly castigated for his smoking). Although many fans were critical of his approach - Dahl made little secret of his opinion that Bond was a 'resourceful but rather insensitive fellow' - he is more astute about the character than many writers in the series, bringing Bond's smug superiority to the fore in lines like "You forget I took a First in Oriental languages at Cambridge."

It's particularly disappointing that the 2-disc set only includes five minutes of the very entertaining and surprisingly comprehensive hour-long Whicker's World special on the making of the film, which revealed Connery's fondness for Custard Creams. We do get the glossier and less interesting 48-minute Welcome to Japan, Mr Bond (which makes an injoke of the fact that OHMSS had originally been scheduled to be made that year by having an unseen actress complain that she was supposed to be Mrs Bond) and Ken Adams' home movie footage, but there's not enough new to justify the `Ultimate Edition' tag here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For his fifth cinema outing superspy James Bond is sent off to Japan in another fight against SPECTRE. This time the criminal organisation is trying to start world war three using captured Russian and American space vehicles.

There are big thrills aplenty as Sean Connery's Bond stumbles around in Japan, trying to uncover the threads of the scheme. Bond gets into scrape after scrape leading to ever more impressive escapes and stunts, all of which builds up to the thrilling final showdown which is suitably action packed and full of big bangs.

Introducing Bond's nemesis Blofeld for the first time, here played by a very creepy and evil looking Donald Pleasance, and the idea of a supervillain hiding out in a disused volcano lair, this is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Characterisation takes a bit of a back seat to the stunts, but it is an exciting ride none the less.

This digitally restored edition really is the best version of the film I have owned. The picture has been lovingly restored and cleaned up, and looks amazing. Really, I am not just saying that. It looks superb. The sound has been similarly treated and there is an option to listen to it in 5.1 DTS surround, which is truly exceptional.
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Despite enjoying Connery's Bond, I hated the previous outing (Thunderball). Therefore, I'm severely glad they upped their game with `You Only Live Twice.' However, in my opinion, it does take its time getting to the good bits. The first half feels like Bond wandering round Japan, stumbling into one hostile situation after the next.

Luckily, once he figures a few things out (roughly around the halfway mark) the film not only picks up, but continues to set the template for many of the Bond movies to come.

For a start... we have the return of SPECTRE, who are up to their old tricks again and trying to start a new world war between America and the USSR. Not only that, but without this film, you would never really get as many Bond spoofs (Austin Powers, I'm looking at you). It's here that we catch our first glimpse of (Donald Plesence's) Blofeld - a baddie creepy enough to be imitated numerous times, but never outdone. Also, we have the first supervillain's `lair.' Since You Only Live Twice, it seems that every baddie who's hell-bent on world domination has his own hollowed-out volcano, but you saw it here first.

The action is non stop in the second half, but, because it's so original, it won't get boring (anyone who's seen Transformers 2 will know that constant action doesn't equal a good film). Plus we see Bond helped out by a small army of (disposable) goodies (a situation repeated in Roger Moore's Bond era).

If it wasn't for the first half being a little slow, I'd say that You Only Live Twice is up there with the best of Connery's era. It doesn't quite top Goldfinger in my opinion, but it's definitely worth watching if you like your Bond, or just want something to cheer to on a Saturday afternoon.
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on 18 May 2010
What can be said about You Only Live Twice that has not already been said? Its big, its bold, it looks great, the soundtrack is outstanding, and it features sets that have not been equalled in 40 years.
Sean Connery may be looking a bit bored at times as he goes round the block again, but he is still in his prime and exudes menace and charm.
Seeing as this was made in 1967 it would have been so tempting for the producers to throw in some swinging sixties/hipster references. It's to their credit that they didn't, just look how dated Our Man Flint, Matt Helm etc look by comparison. Instead we are treated to a snapshot of Japan at a time when it was just transforming itself into the hi tec powerhouse it is today, much more interesting. Although clearly shot in the sixties You Only Live Twice has an almost dreamlike timeless quality that has prevented it from dating.
Forget arguments about weather this is the best Bond movie of all time. (It probably isn't)
This is big budget fantasy film making at its best. Made by a gang of creative people who are all peaking at the same time. John Barry's soundtrack is sublime, Ken Adam's sets are groundbreaking, Maurice Binder's title sequence is classic Bond, Lewis Gilbert's direction is lean and well paced and Roal Dahl script is fast and witty.
If you are not impressed by a hundred odd ninjas abs ailing into a volcano all guns blazing, then this may not be for you. But if you like cutting edge, iconic fun then this is little short of a pop art masterpiece.
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on 28 December 2014
After James Bond (Sean Connery) has participated in faking his own murder in Hong Kong, to give him "more elbow room" in the words of his superior, M (Bernard Lee), he is dispatched to Japan to investigate the mysterious disappearance of both American and Soviet space crafts which threatens to spark World War III.

Working together with Japanese secret service leader Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba), he meets beautiful Japanese agent Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), who helps Bond through several close shaves.
Working with a Japanese Secret Service Ninja force, he locates the sabotage to the shadowy organization SPECTRE, led by the sinister Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence).
After Aki is murdered by SPECTRE agents (She dies after ingesting poison dropped into the bed she shares with Bond), Bond teams up, in a faked marriage with the attractive Kissy Suzuki Mie Hama).
Together with the Ninja force they penetrate Blofeld's massive headquarters, hidden in a volcano, where the final battle ensues.
Before Blofeld tries to kill Bond, he reminds him "You Only Live Twice", referring to his earlier faked death.
The chemistry between Bond and the exquisite Aki is perfect, and in the scene where a marriage is proposed and Bond thinks it is Aki, Aki's face lights up.
No less stunning is Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki, an expert swimmer and fighter, and one of the sexiest
Bond girl ever.
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