Live and Let Die AKA James Bond VS All the Black People in the World
Authors Note: As we are now entering the Roger Moore Bond era, there will be a few tweaks to my rating system that you need to be aware of. 1) The films of this actor will not be rated out of vodka martinis, as Roger Moore barely, if ever, orders one in his stint as 007. Instead, he will a get rating between one and five cigars, as Moore smokes more tobacco penis symbols than Sigmund Freud. 2) The Rapey Meter will be a lot harsher, deducting points for things I probably would have glossed over Connery for (if not applauding his restraint). Moore is less sexually aggressive and more flirty than Connery, however the portrayal of women in his movies are a bit more sexist, so the bullshit algorithm I use, though staying the same, will be recalibrated with this in mind. Now to the movie!
1) Cold Opener: The name of the game is assassination. Open on New York City where a very boring meeting of UN delegates is happening. A black man sneaks into the translator booth and replaces the British delegate’s feed with ear dynamite, which he uses to kill him. Jump to the French Quarter in New Orleans. A parade of black people are having a somber funeral procession while an innocent white agent looks on. Touched by the event he asks a strange black man who’s funeral it is and is stabbed to death. The procession than becomes a lively party that scoops up the dead agent into the coffin and dances away with him. Jump to San Monique AKA an island in the Caribbean. A scary gaggle of black folk are all going crazy with their uncivilized voodoo rituals. If that isn’t enough to terrify the average white man, a wild-eyed voodoo priest comes dancing out, looking like a character from a Dave Chappelle sketch, holding a ridiculous green snake. Not scary enough, Jive Turkey? Well dyn-o-mite, there’s white guy tied to a wooden stake who gets sacrificed by these colored savages. Now I know this is a send-off to Blaxploitation movies, but all I can say is “too soon, guys” and give a half cigar for this for the offensive racism and lack of James Bond. It does get the half, however, because of the ear dynamite.
2) Opening Credits/Bond Song: Overall, this is a really cool sequence and a fantastic song. We get Sir Paul McCartney, a year after the breakup of the Beatles, writing and performing an out of the ordinary, more rock than usual, Bond song. In the background, attractive black women brandishing guns (and sometime voodoo body paint) are sharing the screen or are engulfed in flames, with a cool effect of one woman’s head becoming a fiery skull to a key tempo change in the song. I’m not only giving this a full five cigar opening, but I’ll use the flames from the credits to light the round.
3) The Villain: So we have Yaphet Koto, an actor I love, at the evil helm, playing the dual roles of Kananga and Mr. Big. By day, Kananga is a mild-mannered UN delegate, but by night he is the nefarious gang leader/burn victim Mr. Big. Call him what you will, but at the end of the day he is a bad ass voodoo wielding, drug smuggler with a one armed henchmen (Tee Hee), and tarot reading Bond girl (Solitaire played by Jane Seymour) and the ability to mobilize every black person, except one, in the entire world. On his coolness alone, I’m lighting five cigars.
4) The Plot: A bunch of stuffy white people are killed by black people and 007, now played by known stuffy Brit Roger Moore, must find out why. Accompanied by Felix Lieter (this time played by David Hedison) Bond traverses the globe from Harlem, to New Orleans to an island in the Caribbean, to figure out the mystery. The whole adventure Bond is stalked by a strange voodoo figure known as Baron Samedi who, though creepy, doesn’t do much. Bond shows up unannounced at Kananga’s door step and isn’t killed. Instead he lures Dr. Quinn Tarot Reader away from Kananga, who is more than happy to go, showing that a British penis is much more powerful than a black one. After being betrayed by every black person in the movie, except CIA agent Quarrel (who should have been playing Leiter, but instead gets killed), Bond loses Dr. Quinn and gets kidnapped by Mr. Big who literally rips his face off and reveals himself to be Yaphet Koto (record skip! Whaaaaaaaaaat?). After being handcuffed to a chair and told he would be killed if his white penis destroyed Solitaire’s fortune telling ability, Bond is released after Kananga confirms Dr. Quinn’s lack of powers. By the end of the movie, Bond has proven that voodoo is a black people silly superstition and Kananga reveals his plan: to produce and distribute heroin, for free, through his Fillet of Soul restaurants, until every other heroin supplier is out of business. Once he holds the monopoly (or at least Boardwalk) he will jack the heroin price sky high, both doubling his clientele and destroying his competition. It’s so crazy, it just might have worked, except Bond plugs a pump into him and blows him up like a floaty pool toy until he pops. The day is saved, Dr. Quinn needs to play doctor with Nurse Bond and they’re both getting ready for the dirty business in their train car when Tee Hee sneaks in and nearly kills them all with his claw hand. After being tossed out the window, Bond gets down to fucking and the audience is treated to an unresolved Baron Samedi gleefully riding on the front of the locomotive. This plot is messier than a six-year-old brat’s toy room and I’m leaving out the southern racist cop and black CIA agent to e-scared of voodoo to be a professional. All in all, one cigar is being lit here because, as much Bondsense that goes on in this movie, it is kind of fun.
5) Rapey Meter: Remember the whole plot line I mentioned about Dr. Solitaire Tarrot Card Reader losing her ability to see the future after Bonding in the bedroom with 007? Well, he literally fucks the power and evil out of her, changing her from a villain with vision to a useless, doting little girl. Remember the black CIA agent (Rosie Carver) I mentioned who turns on him after a voodoo scare? He sleeps with her then threatens to kill her, answering her logic of him not being able to pull the trigger after said sex by saying “Well, I certainly wouldn’t have killed you before.” All in all, pretty sexist and more than a bit rapey so I’m making this a two cigar round.
6) Wild Card: Here’s where my review gets as convoluted as the plot of the movie, so do pay attention, Jive Turkey, and let’s count the pluses and minuses. First off I’m taking the whole box of cigars away for the uncomfortable racism in the film. When I said all the black people in the world are against Bond, I’m including the aforementioned CIA agent, as well as everyone living in New Orleans, San Monique and Harlem (including the cab driver who randomly picks him up and doesn’t know him from Adam). I’ll add two cigars because I’ve often bad-mouthed Roger Moore as Bond, but I genuinely like his portrayal here. I’ll add another for Tee Hee, who’s only issue is he needed more screen time, and still another cigar for James Bond’s Pitfall Harry impression by jumping on the backs of alligators to escape peril. I’m then removing two cigars for Agent Quarrel’s death, which does nothing to further the story, but robs the audience of a cool character who is black and not evil. I’m taking another cigar because the actor who played Quarrel would have been a great Leiter, but I’m adding a half of one because Baron Samedi is a cool character (would have been a full one if he did more.) Finally, I’m adding a cigar and half for the awesome, soulful cover of “Live and Let Die,” we see in the night club James is abducted from. This gives us a total of three cigars.
7) So, when you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to love this movie (I know you did, I know you did, I know you did), but when this ever changing world in which we live in, makes you not rank so high, Live and Let Die (gets a total of two and half cigars). Don’t agree with my review? Visit my Gofundme page to contribute to my ongoing bribes to raise the Bond reviews because, honestly “For twenty bucks I’d take you to a Ku Klux Klan cook out.” – Cab Driver.