You Only Live Twice: Ultimate Edition (1967)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Credits
Featurette-Ken Adam's Production Films
Featurette-Whickers World
Featurette-Welcome To Japan Mr. Bond
Featurette-007,Women, Allies, Mission Combat Manuel, Q Branch
Featurette-Exotic Locations
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside The Making Of You Only Live Twice
Featurette-Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles
Storyboards-Plane Crash: Animated Storyboard Sequence
Theatrical Trailer-Archive
TV Spots-Broadcasts
Radio Spots-Communications
Gallery-Photo-1967 - The Year" You Only Live Twice "Was Released
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 112:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:32)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lewis Gilbert
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sean Connery
Akiko Wakabayashi
Mie Hama
Tetsuro Tamba
Teru Shimada
Karin Dor
Donald Pleasence
Bernard Lee
Lois Maxwell
Desmond Llewelyn
Charles Gray
Tsai Chin
Peter Fanene Maivia
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    1967 saw the fifth Bond film, and this one takes him to the Orient. Japan, to be specific.

    The pre-credits sequence sees Bond being killed in bed by assassins in Hong Kong, aided by a willing local femme (played by Tsai Chin, Fu Manchu's evil daughter). But his death is just a smokescreen to allow him to investigate the source of the current international crisis. The Americans and the Russians have each lost a spacecraft, and each blame the other. War is imminent. But those trusty Brits have learned that the American spacecraft landed somewhere in the sea off the Japanese coast.

    In Tokyo Bond goes to see local British diplomat Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray), who is swiftly killed just as he is about to give some important information. Chasing the killer, Bond ends up in the offices of Osato Corporation, which is just a front for the importation of chemicals needed to produce rocket fuel. Bond also drops in on the head of the Japanese Secret Service, one "Tiger" Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba). But of course Bond's interest is piqued more by agent Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), and the luscious Osato operative Helga Brandt (the luscious Karin Dor). Can Bond discover the mystery behind the missing spaceships and prevent the outbreak of World War III?

    You Only Live Twice exhibits the problems which bedevilled most of the Bonds after the late 1960s, in that the sets, settings and gadgets begin to overwhelm the story, and as each episode tries to outdo the previous they become less and less believable. The script was written by Roald Dahl, and he reportedly said that he wrote it according to a formula - by the numbers, as it were. There are enormous plot holes and unbelievable situations in this film, though with Connery's good-natured charm and a reasonably fast pace this film is still very enjoyable, even if some of it is unintentionally funny - I could not help laughing out loud when Tanaka reveals his secret army of Ninjas even though I've seen this numerous times before. But then there are some good action sequences, like the fight in Osato's office when Bond is forced to use a sofa as a battering ram. There is also an excellent airborne fight when Bond in a gyrocopter takes on four helicopters. But then there is the terrible oriental makeup Connery is forced to wear, which would fool no-one.

   There are a few token Japanese actors in the film, most of whom appear to be dubbed, though co-star Tamba could speak English. Having heard some of his English in a later film called Silence, in which he is supposed to be a Dutchman with red hair and beard, I'm not surprised that they dubbed him here. At this time his star was in the ascendant in his home country, starring in the TV series Key Hunter which also made a star of Sonny Chiba, and he is still making appearances in films in his eighties. Teru Shimada, who plays Osato, was a long-term resident of California and had been in films there since the early 1930s. I think he provides his own voice.

    The English cast includes Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell of course, and the chief villain Blofeld is played by a very familiar character actor who will be instantly recognisable by his voice, even though his face isn't seen until near the very end. Interestingly Charles Gray would play Blofeld in the next Connery film, Diamonds Are Forever. There are a number of actors who appear in other Bond films, some of whom were killed off in Goldfinger (Burt Kwouk and Anthony Chinn). There are unbilled appearances by Alexander Knox as the American President and William Sylvester and Robert Hutton as his advisers. Fans of UFO will recognise the late Ed Bishop as the red-shirted CapCom operator at the start of the movie.

   This was the first of three Bonds directed by Lewis Gilbert. But his influence is overshadowed by the sets of Ken Adam, which are impressive but tend to overwhelm the film. This isn't the best of the Connery series, but it is still quite enjoyable. Connery left the series after this film, but was back four years later for one last "official" outing as Britain's greatest secret agent.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This isn't the best presentation of a 2.35:1 film that I've seen. There is a slight lack of sharpness and detail. This despite some obvious manipulation which has resulted in a slight digital edge to outlines, as well as some edge enhancement. Despite the Lowry process being used here, backgrounds often look as if they should have more detail. This extends to foregrounds shown in long shot.

    Colour is very good but again it looks as if the red part of the spectrum has been boosted, making flesh tones a little too brown or ruddy for my liking. Black levels are also good. Shadow detail is sometimes lacking, but not to the extent that anything of importance is missed. Most of the actors wear light suits, in keeping with the sunny exoticism of the plot.

    I did not notice any film artefacts. There are mild examples of posterisation, but not to the same extent as in Goldfinger. There was some judder in horizontal pans, though there do not appear to be any interlacing artefacts. Some telecine wobble is evident at various points during the film.

    Optional subtitles are provided in a variety of languages. The English subtitles appear to be very well done in a sizeable white font.

    The film is on an RSDL-formatted disc. The layer break is noticeable but not disruptive to the flow of the film. It occurs at 56:32 at a cut following the helicopter battle.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, with the alternative being DTS 5.1. I listened to the latter in full and sampled the former. There is really no substantial difference between them that I could discern. The producers of this DVD have done the equivalent of pan-and-scan with the audio in not providing the original mono soundtrack.

    This soundtrack has less of the placing of voices in relation to their position on the screen than Goldfinger, which gets annoying when the audio goes from one speaker to the other to match the various camera angles in the same sequence. Dialogue is clear throughout, and there are no fluctuations in the level of the voices. Effects come across very well for a movie of this vintage. While much of the film has a frontal soundstage effects are often spread across the rear channels, though often they just draw attention to themselves rather than envelop the listener in believable sound. The LFE channel gets a considerable workout with explosions and some of the music.

    Audio sync is generally okay for the European and American actors, and not so good for the Japanese. Tetsuro Tamba's voice actor doesn't nearly match Tamba's lip movements, even though he is speaking his lines in English. Alexander Knox's voice may also have been dubbed, as it often doesn't sound like his voice.

    One of the delights of this movie is the splendid score by John Barry, perhaps his finest for the Bond series. He works Asian-sounding themes into the score, plus uses the original Bond music in the aerial dogfight. The title song, sung by Nancy Sinatra, is one of the best Bond songs, the opening of which provides a memorable theme which Barry returns to throughout the film. Unfortunately the new surround mix for the song makes the voice seem more subdued than on my CD of Bond themes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A lot of extras, some of which will be familiar from the previous Region 4 DVD, or the laserdisc version if you had it in that format. All have subtitles, and unless stated otherwise all are 1.33:1. All bar the audio commentary are on Disc Two of this two-disc set.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    An 87 second skippable restoration promo precedes the menus. The menus are done in Bond credit sequence style, with images and music from the film.

Audio Commentary

    John Cork hosts this commentary which features the reminiscences of many of the crew, from Lewis Gilbert to Nancy Sinatra to Ken Adam. There is plenty of information about the technical aspects of the production, mainly stunts and sets.

Credits

    DVD credits.

Featurette-Ken Adam's Production Films (13:57)

    Ken Adam (now Sir Ken) made some colour 16mm home movie footage of the shoot, which he narrates.

Featurette-Whicker's World (5:20)

    For those of you who don't remember or are too young, Alan Whicker is an English journalist who hosted a TV series which ran for about 30 years in which he travelled all over the world, reporting from exotic locations, sort of a one-man 60 Minutes. His unique accent and delivery were hilariously parodied in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. These are excerpts taken from a show in which he looked behind the filming of the latest Bond epic. There are other excerpts from this show in the making of documentary.

Featurette-Welcome To Japan Mr. Bond (50:03)

    This appears to be a made for TV promotional film, with excerpts from all of the Bond films to 1967 framed by a very silly, almost embarrassing story in which Miss Moneypenny frets over the rumour that Bond is about to be married. It features Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny of course and Desmond Llewellyn as Q, demonstrating some of the gadgets used in the latest film. Kate O'Mara appears unbilled.

Featurette-007,Women, Allies, Mission Combat Manuel, Q Branch, Exotic Locations

    Categorised under the above headings are clips from the film, so you can see selected footage related to a character or situation.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside The Making Of You Only Live Twice (30:22)

    This is an excellent documentary with interviews with many of the surviving crew, including the director, Ken Adam, Peter Hunt and others. Patricia Neal is on hand to represent her then husband Roald Dahl. It is narrated by Patrick Macnee and was made in 2000 for the first DVD release of the film.

Featurette-Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles (23:21)

    This is a biographical featurette about Maurice Binder, who did the opening titles for Dr No, then returned for every Bond film from Thunderball until his early death after Licence to Kill. Binder was responsible for the silhouetted nude girls that sparked the credit sequences. There are interviews with friends, colleagues, Sheena Easton (now with a broad Noo Yoik accent), Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. It was made in 2000 for the first DVD release of the film.

Storyboards-Plane Crash: Animated Storyboard Sequence (1:36)

    The sequence shows the storyboards for the plane crash sequence with music and effects.

Theatrical Trailer-Archive (8:35)

    Three trailers are included, being an international and a North American trailer and a trailer for a double-bill with Thunderball. The first two are widescreen and 16x9 enhanced.

TV Spots-Broadcasts (0:55)

    A television commercial for a Thunderball-You Only Live Twice double-bill.

Radio Spots-Communications (5:16)

    A series of radio commercials.

Gallery-Photo-1967 - The Year You Only Live Twice Was Released

    Lots of photos in various categories, including publicity stills, behind the scenes pictures and even some glamour stills of the female cast. The Select button allows you to view text about some of the pictures.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    These new Ultimate Editions are getting released around the world. As far as I can tell the video quality of the new Region 4s is superior to the old Region 4 releases.

Summary

    Not one of the best Bonds, but it still has much to offer.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    More extras than you can throw a set of star knives at.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, June 30, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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