You Only Live Twice (1967)

Rating: **
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Production Design: Ken Adam
Cast: Sean Connery, Mie Hama, Donald Pleasence

Someone is gobbling up Russian and American space capsules, and both of the stubborn superpowers are on the brink of nuclear retaliation. After faking his own death, James Bond (Sean Connery) is on the case and he discovers that SPECTRE is behind the whole thing. He hooks up with the Japanese Secret Service and with the help of their ninjas takes out Blofeld's island stronghold. Arguably the worst Bond film of the bunch (not counting "Never Say Never Again"), the film is stupid, nonsensical, and not very interesting, and even though Bond girl Mie Hama is really pretty, she's not very engaging. It does feature several things worth mentioning, though. The film primarily takes place in Japan, providing a rare cross-cultural glimpse into Asian culture that was seldom seen in domestic action films of the time (I believe Japan's Toho Studios co-produced the film). It also featured one of America's first exposures to the Japanese ninja, a film genre which would later become a rage. And finally, the film features our first look at SPECTRE's head official and Bond's arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence). Unfortunately, Pleasence's skitterish and cowardly portrayal completely undermines Blofeld's enigmatic presence that was established in the previous films.