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You Only Live Twice (1967)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

An American space capsule and its occupants are swallowed by the metal jaws of another spacecraft and at a meeting with Britain and the USSR, the USA accuses the Russians of perpetrating the hijack. This is refuted, but the Americans warn that if the same fate befalls their next space mission in three weeks time, war will be declared. The British remain convinced that the craft has landed in the vicinity of Japan and decide that Secret Service agent James Bond, 007, should investigate immediately.

Bond, however, is apparently shot dead in Hong Kong, but following a burial at sea his coffin is taken to a nearby submarine and the 'assassination' revealed to be a ruse intended to divert attention from his activities. Bond travels to Tokyo, first meeting a Japanese operative, Aki, who introduces him to Henderson, a contact claiming that neither the Russians nor the Japanese are behind the hijack. Before he can impart more information, he is knifed in the back. Bond disposes of the killer, dons his hat and coat and staggers into the getaway car. He is driven to the head office of the massive Osato Corporation, where he steals some papers before triggering an alarm. Aki provides a timely rescue and delivers him to the fabled 'Tiger' Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service.

Tanaka agrees to assist Bond and instructs his men to examine the stolen papers. They include a photograph of a ship, the Ning Po, and indicate that the innocent tourist who shot the snap was murdered for doing so. The papers also imply that the Osato Corporation is supplying rocket fuel to an unnamed purchaser; curious, Bond engineers a meeting with the head of the business. Posing as a wealthy industrialist, he is introduced to Osato and his assistant, Helga Brandt. Neither are fooled by Bond's charade and Osato orders his death, although once again Aki appears when gunmen open fire and drives him to safety.

However, when Bond explores the dockyard harbouring the Ning Po, he is captured by Osato's men and interrogated by Brandt. 007 claims to be involved in industrial espionage and apparently charms her, but after sex she attempts to kill him by locking him into a plummeting plane before bailing out. Bond breaks free from his restraints, lands the aircraft and escapes, moments before it explodes.

Meanwhile, Tanaka discovers the Ning Po is making deliveries to an apparently inconsequential island off the Japanese mainland. Bond makes an aerial reconnaissance in 'Little Nellie', a gadget-laden autogiro supplied by the British Secret Service's Q branch. Although he spots nothing untoward, his vehicle is unsuccessfully attacked by helicopters, proving that the terrain below hides something significant.

Tanaka plans to deploy a contingent of Ninja agents to investigate and to join them, Bond must 'become Japanese'. This involves surgery to ensure he looks Oriental, training in the Ninja arts and a fraudulent marriage to Kissy, one of 'Tiger's' agents.

Before the 'wedding' two catastrophes occur. First, a Russian space capsule is hijacked in identical fashion to its American counterpart and the world wavers on the brink of war. Second, SPECTRE - the massive criminal organization behind the whole scheme - attempts to poison Bond, but tragically, Aki swallows the lethal liquid.

Bond completes his training and arrives on the mysterious island, accompanied by Kissy. He discovers that SPECTRE is using an extinct volcano as cover for their operations and enters the base. Although promptly captured he comes face-to-face with the syndicate's diabolical leader, the scarred and sinister Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Kissy summons help from Tanaka's men and Bond creates enough mayhem to allow them entry into the nerve centre. He then shakes off his captors, prevents the second American space capsule being hijacked and assists in the Ninja assault.

Blofeld flees, but his plot is foiled. The base explodes as a result of the ferocious fighting and Bond escapes with Kissy. As they float to safety in an inflatable, a British submarine surfaces with 007's dinghy on its bough.