Just rewatched The Man With The Golden Gun, and it reminds me that the 70s was a time of rape and plunder of Asian culture. While the occasional Hollywood movie was respectful or even creative in managing its Asian assets, overall it has an appalling record of mixing and matching Asian cultures at random in the most egregious fashion. Roger Moore had yet to reach his stride as 007, the next Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me would achieve that. Christopher Lee had a turn as Scaramanga, The Man With The Golden Gun, who was arguably the best of Bond villains. The series had yet to begin leaning on the technical monstrosities which were to ruin Bond’s turn as a government thug, and was still leaning heavily on Swedish beauties (Maud Adams and Britt Ekland) for the Bond Girls. The British Film Institute considered The Man With The Golden Gun as the most disappointing of the 70s Bond movies, even with the appalling Live And Let Die and the even worse Moonraker for competition. It’s not hard to see why, even with Christopher Lee’s admirable performance as the villain. It’s such a random mishmash of Bondisms with a thin plot to stitch it all together. Random world locations with dubious connection? Check. Villains base exploding at the end for no good reason? Gotcha. Poor acting by an assorted bevy of beauties? Roger. Goofy technology that just renders things even more ridiculous? Yup. But, since this blog is not really about movies but things Asian in nature, what we’re really after is the Asian element. And this film delivers the spectacular crapness that only Hollywood can. For someone like myself with a few years of karate, the martial arts is also junk. Roger Moore looks stiff as a board and his on guard is one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever seen. The actual martial arts combat is laughably slow, even the sword fight demonstrators are on the crap side, and they are supposed to be the capable ones.
Mixing and matching Hong Kong with Thailand (and a lot of city footage which obviously came from the US), and throwing in odds and sods of Japanese and Chinese culture besides, this film had no idea what it was doing. Travelling to Bangkok to meet Chinese people, arriving at a dojo (Japanese word), and starring a murderous French dwarf actor (Herve Jean-Pierre Villechaize) as some sort of vaguely Asian character, and most insultingly featuring Soon-Tek Oh (a Korean fresh off the set of M.A.S.H.) as an overdubbed Hongkie Bond sidekick, the film only needed to mock Asian languages (done, with the high-larious Phuyuck wine schtick) to finish the job. And there you have it, finished off with one of the worst Bond melodies, perhaps second only to Madonna’s crapness. Of course, since anything Madonna does is mega-crap, it’s a pretty high standard of lowness to achieve. Interestingly Alice Cooper had written a song of the same title to be used for the film, which ended up on the excellent Muscle of Love album. What might have been? Well done Hollywood, a sterling example of abusing Asian culture.