The Man with the Golden Gun - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
Roger Moore’s sophomore Bond outing, The Man with the Golden Gun, hits UK Region Free Blu-ray as part of the Bond 50 Box Set having already been released some time back as a standalone title. Although, like its predecessor Live and Let Die, it has undergone ‘pristine digital restoration’ at the hands of Lowry, this time around it does not appear to have quite had the desired effect. Whilst a decent looking presentation – arguably the best the movie has looked in years (if ever), the DNR application seems marginally more intrusive than one would have ideally liked, and edge enhancement in noticeable in some sequences. Aside from these niggles, and the issues inherent to the budget and age of the movie itself, it’s an otherwise decent presentation – just not one that could be championed as a superior, demo-quality remastered restoration.
Complete with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC High Definition video encode in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen (the last of the Bonds to use this scope, returning to the wider format which had briefly been implemented for the later Connery outings), The Man with the Golden Gun offers up decent detail, fluctuating somewhere between impressively excellent close-up shots (not least of faces, but also of clothing weaves and textures) and some softer wider shots which, whilst forgivable, don’t always do the movie’s stunning locations justice. There is a decent sheen of suitably cinematic grain, which leaves you believing that any DNR application on the part of Lowry has been minimalised, but there are still a few brief moments where edge enhancement is visible. Defects and print damage are basically non-existent.
The colour scheme is strong and vibrant, with generally much warmer, more vivid tones on offer than was the case for Live and Let Die – the locations no doubt helped, as well as the more ‘colourful’ plot. Skin tones are rich and healthy (even Christopher Lee’s fake tan!) and everything from the deep blue sea to the lush green island plant-life looks gorgeous. Black levels are strong, and there’s no sign of any crush, with the darker sequences retaining a satisfying amount of shadow detail. Overall it’s a good presentation, just not at all demo quality, and not really what you’d expect considering the better job that has been done for some of the other titles that have underwent a similar ‘restoration’.
On the aural front, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 re-mix is also decent but also unexceptional. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array whenever necessary, and never getting overwhelmed by either the score or the effects. The surrounds get a reasonable workout from some of the set-pieces, but this is a slightly less action-packed Bond outing, and so there isn’t quite as much material to play with. The car and boat chases are high points, as is the explosive final confrontation. Gunshots ring out, but occasionally sound a little hollow, and otherwise we’re left with more ambient observations to round out the atmospherics, and, in this respect, the track isn’t all that impressive.
Certainly we could have done with more rear support, even just channelling a portion of the frontal array’s output, and separation across the channels is often non-existent, indicative of an underwhelming aural remix, as the original mono offering would, of course, have had no distinct channel separation and soundscape imaging. The LFE input is sporadic – there could have been more – and the score, which is used basically throughout the piece in one form or another, gets arguably the most prominence on the track, which is no bad thing. Whilst not a fine-tuned track which has been remastered to perfection, and whilst being far from demo material, this is a perfectly serviceable accompaniment to the main feature, and probably still sounds a great deal better than the movie has ever sounded before.
This new Bond 50 Box Set comes complete with all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras ported over (as well as some new material on a further disc in the set). Far from bad news, the old UE releases pretty-much offered up definitive background material for each title, and The Man with the Golden Gun was certainly one of the chapters that was particularly well treated.
Sporting no less than three separate Commentaries – one by the Cast and Crew, one by the Screenwriter, and one by Bond star Sir. Roger Moore himself – we also had a number of informative background Featurettes and Documentaries, as well as a hefty amount of promotional material (which, with the majority of these older releases, was the only place you could spot the Deleted Scenes). Fans of the film will no doubt know all about these offerings; newcomers couldn’t want for more.
Commentary by Sir Roger Moore – another great listen with the veteran Bond actor.
Commentary by Director Guy Hamilton and members of the Cast and Crew
Declassified: MI6 Vault
The Russell Harty Show has Moore chatting on the talk-show about his latest Bond outing.
On Location with The Man with the Golden Gun has a very brief look at the Bottoms’ Up strip club.
Girls Fighting is a selection of outtakes from the scene where the schoolgirls defeat the dojo. Sigh.
American Thrill Show Stunt Film is a five-minute clip of the key barrel roll in the film as previously performed.
Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks has the director talking about his work on the project
007 Mission Control
Split into the usual categories of: 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch and Exotic Locations
Inside The Man with the Golden Gun – An Original Documentary runs at 30 minutes and charts the background
Double-O Stuntmen – a half-hour look at the stunts, and the stuntmen, across all the Bond films
Ministry of Propaganda
Theatrical Archive – has a selection of trailers, showcasing a hint of deleted footage, including unused shots from the closing confrontation.
TV Broadcasts – adds further TV Spots.
Radio Communication – offers up some Radio Spots.
Image Database – The disc is rounded out by a stills gallery.
“Ours is the loneliest profession, Mr. Bond.”
With an original novel which told a tale of a brainwashed Bond programmed by the Russians to kill M, finally recovering only to be dispatched on one last mission – to kill the world’s greatest assassin – there were plenty of great ideas which could have made the film adaptation one of the absolute best Bond outings. Unfortunately, then-topical energy crisis issues; the influence of then-suddenly-popular martial arts movies; and a somewhat misguided approach towards the tone and comedy of the piece left The Man with the Golden Gun one of the weaker entries, with large stretches of the movie utterly devoid of consequence, and the remaining good bits often damaged by the presence of some truly bad characters. Whilst Christopher Lee’s eponymous villain would be a great scene-stealer, Britt Ekland’s cute-but-utterly-vapid Bond girl would cause much of the destruction herself, and Roger Moore – still on good form – would be limited by pressure to act more like Connery’s Bond. Still, the movie would be book-ended by great little assassin-versus-assassin sequences and a few fun moments in-between. It’s just a shame because it could have been so much more.
As part of the Bond 50 set, The Man with the Golden Gun comes with another one of those Lowry restorations. Unfortunately, unlike some of the previous entries – including the last title, Live and Let Die – the results here would not be anywhere near as impressive. Even more disappointing, the audio would be a lacklustre, hollow accompaniment. Still, it’s a considerable step up from DVD and fans will be pleased that all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras have been ported over here.
Bond has been served well by a phenomenal box-set, timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th Anniversary of the franchise. The Man with the Golden Gun forms part of the set along with the other twenty-two films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, and contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features further examining our favourite super-spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.
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