You Only Live Twice

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James Bond: Do you have any commandos here?
Tiger Tanaka: I have much, much better. Ninjas.


The fifth James Bond film, starring Sean Connery. After Bond fakes his death to fall off the radar, he is sent to Japan to investigate SPECTRE's latest plot. One of the goofier Bond films (but it's still awesome!), a little known fact that contributes to this is that the screenplay was written by children's book writer Roald Dahl, a good friend of Ian Fleming.

Connery sleepwalks his way through the movie, having already stated he was sick of playing the role prior. Many of the most widely known and celebrated Bond tropes come from this movie.

A genre-defining performance from Donald Pleasence as Blofeld (complete with fluffy white cat to stroke) - many people are surprised to be told this is actually the only one he's in. This Blofeld was specifically parodied as Doctor Evil in Austin Powers.

Notably, this was the first film to deviate significantly from the source novel, which has Bond, still reeling from the tragic events of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, being sent by M on an extremely tricky diplomatic mission to Japan in an attempt to shake him out of his Heroic BSOD. Apart from the Japanese setting, the basic characters of Tiger Tanaka and Dikko Henderson (both of whom were portrayed completely differently in the film), and Blofeld as the villain, it has little in common with its film adaptation.

Tropes used in You Only Live Twice include:
  • Action Girl: Aki the Japanese spy is actually a pretty good example of the trope, since she's a Waif Fu practitioner with downright mean driving skills. Too bad she bit it.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The producers tried to do as in the book and use a castle by the sea. However, they found out there's no such thing in Japan (they are built well into land because of typhoons). The solution they found? A volcano base!
  • All There in the Script: Kissy Suzuki is not called or mentioned by name at all during the actual movie.
  • Balls of Steel: A martial artist is hit in the testicles, but it's revealed he had drawn them into his body.
  • Between My Legs: A common shot in Bond films; this shot is taken of a girl at the bath house framing James.
  • Big Bad: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
  • Big Red Button: Twice - one pushed by Bond to destroy the SPECTRE space ship, one used by Blofeld to activate his base's Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Done twice in this one, by you-know-who. First he uses it to kill Helga, who is a simple pawn, instead of Osato, and then later he hilariously points a gun at Bond and shoots Osato, only to attempt to kill Bond again mere seconds later in another location where he's conveniently subdued by one of Tiger's shurikens. Ironically, the worst death was endured by the female underling (Helga with piranhas), whereas Osato is « only » shot.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Bon appetit!" after Hans falls in the piranha pool.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Blofeld actually calls his underlings out on this. When he captures Bond himself, he does make a mistake that allows Bond to escape (he shoots Osato first), but that doesn't seem to be an example of this as Bond was saved by events out of Blofeld's control.
    • Helga Brandt, a young and sexy SPECTRE underling, also proves to be very stupid when she decides to have sex with Bond instead of killing him. She then tries to kill him again post-coitus, and obviously fails.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Hans.
  • Coitus Ensues: Kissy emphatically insists her fake marriage is strictly business and will not be consummated for their "honeymoon." This being a Bond movie, they still do it, almost during a mission at that!
  • Collapsing Lair: After Blofeld activates a Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Complete Monster: Blofeld, as always. In this movie in particular he plans to start WWIII so that the SPECTRE will rule the world once England and URSS would have destroyed each other. He's also the cruelest Bad Boss ever existed, as he feeds Helga Brandt to piranhas after she failed to kill Bond.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Both played straight and averted. The massive army of ninja towards the end is slaughtered when it initially attacks Blofeld's lair, but incredibly effective once Bond takes a hand and helps out.
    • They're slaughtered at the beginning because Blofeld's base has automated defenses, and later they can only come in a few at a time when Bond manages to open the crater hatch. To their credit, they then blow a hole in it so SPECTRE can't simply close it again.
  • Cool Plane: "Little Nellie"; actually a gyrocopter
  • Death by Sex:
    • Poor Aki.
    • Helga Brandt is also painfully killed by piranhas as a punishment for having sex with Bond when she was ordered to kill him.
  • Died Standing Up: Poor Henderson.
  • Double Take: Osato when he sees Bond in the SPECTRE control room.
  • The Dragon: Hans
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bond and two escaped astronauts in white SPECTRE security uniforms.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A surprisingly early allegory on cigarettes.

Blofeld: It won't be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond.

    • Inverted with the rocket bullet cigarettes.

Tanaka: "These cigarettes may save your life."

  • Dueling Scar: This version of Blofeld has one.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The SPECTRE launch facility. Entirely apart from all the side tunnels, the main set is staggeringly huge.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: Bond fights his way across the bad guys' port, filmed by a helicopter very high above the action so it looks like a bunch of ants fighting. Combined with the jazzy instrumental of the theme song playing, it is awesome.
  • Faking the Dead: Bond in the beginning, complete with through-and-through bullet holes and fake blood.
  • False-Flag Operation: SPECTRE does this to the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to make each think that the other is stealing its space capsules.
  • Fan Service: Should go without saying in a Bond movie. Examples include Bond main girl, Kissy Suzuki, wearing a white bikini while hiking up the Big Bad's lair. Eventually she puts on a sort of small bathrobe-kimono only to get rid of it later. For pretty much the last quarter of the film she's in a bikini. Also Tiger's bath servants.
    • They even apply the Japanese makeup to Bond in an operating theater wearing bikinis!
  • Fast Roping: This is how Tiger Tanaka's ninjas descend into Blofeld's volcano base.
  • Fiery Redhead: Helga Brandt (which makes her actress - who is a brunette - saying the producers were looking for a blue-eyed blonde kind of weird...).
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Forklift Fu: The Mooks at the Kobe docks.
  • Giant Mook: Hans and the Japanese driver who unknowingly picks Bond and takes him to Osato Industries.
  • Hand Signals: Tiger Tanaka twice uses arm signals with his ninja army.
  • IKEA Weaponry: "Little Nellie" is always packed up in kit-form until needed.
  • In Name Only: The movie has extremely little in common with the novel by Ian Fleming - though the novel was considered completely unfilmable.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: As the page quote shows, the warriors sent to help Bond storm the enemy base.
  • Katanas Are Just Better - While the Ninja squad that rescues Bond near the end do use some more modern equipment, there are still plenty of shots of them using shuriken and ninja blades successfully against the SMG armed minions.
  • Japanese Like Me: Bond's disguise as a Japanese fisherman.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: For some reason, Tanaka decides not to just send Bond a polite note.
  • Last Request: Bond - but he escapes of course.
  • Lock and Load Montage: The scene where "Little Nellie" gets assembled.
  • Mugged for Disguise: How Bond and the cosmonauts got their SPECTRE uniforms.
  • Neck Snap: Bond uses it to kill the assassin who killed Henderson.
  • Oh Crap: Osato acts that way after he sees Blofeld's killing of his young female underling (Helga) after she failed him. Before he was calmly walking away, but after poor Helga’s agonizing and screaming death by getting her whole body shredded by piranhas, after which the Big Bad roars, "Kill Bond, NOW!", Osato scampers up the stairs in fright at his truly crazy boss.
  • One Last Smoke
  • One-Scene Wonder: After he reveals himself to Bond, Blofeld is only in a couple of scenes, yet he manages to be one of the most memorable villains in any Bond film.
  • The Oner: An extended helicopter tracking shot as Bond runs across a roof fighting SPECTRE minions.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Bond meets with his Japanese Secret Service contact at a sumo match.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise - "Japanese Bond". It's a nod to the novel, where Bond really manages to look Japanese...somehow. He even fools Blofeld for a while after being captured.
  • Piranha Problem: Blofeld kept a piranha pond in his underground lair - handy for getting rid of failed and incompetent employees like Helga Brandt.
  • Playing Both Sides: SPECTRE is stealing American and Soviet spacecrafts to provoke a war.
  • Railing Kill: Happens a lot during the big battle at the end.
  • Recycled in Space: Inverted. This is the original attempt to trigger Nuclear War between Russia and the US, but it has since spawned many imitators; the plot would be recycled in the series itself for the 10th Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, but its this one that is actually based in space.
  • Refuge in Audacity: While planning the car chase, Dana Broccoli (wife of one of the producers) suggested on having one of the cars being removed by a helicopter with a magnet. And they followed suit.
  • Revealing Coverup: SPECTRE, repeatedly.
  • Right-Hand-Cat - this is probably the trope maker, though Blofeld's cat had been featured before.
  • Roald Dahl: wrote the movie's screenplay.
  • Safecracking: Bond breaks into a safe at the Osato Chemical Company.
  • Scenery Porn: Spectacular aerial footage of Japan.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism - see Big Red Button above.
    • Sort-of used by Bond himself (making clever use of a geyser) in the novel.
  • Sentry Gun: The crater guns Blofeld used against Tanaka's ninja army.
  • Shark Pool - Instead of sharks, there are piranha.
  • Sic Em: Osato tells Number 11 "Kill him!" and Blofeld says "Kill Bond! Now!"
  • The Speechless - Hans.
  • Storming the Castle: the Ninja attack on the volcanic hideout.
  • Supervillain Lair - A hollowed out volcano that is also used as a rocket launch base. It's one of the most famous and recognizable lairs in any fiction. It probably inspired a lot of later such lairs.
    • It's certainly lovingly parodied in the second Austin Powers movie, with entire sets recreated very closely.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Two scenes (in Aki's car and Blofeld's lair) have filmed footage that just evokes Fridge Logic.
  • Tap on the Head: A Mook to Bond at the Kobe docks and Bond/astronauts to SPECTRE guards.
  • Title Drop: Blofeld says "You only live twice, Mr. Bond."
    • In the book, it's part of a haiku Bond composes.
  • Tokyo Tower: can be seen in a background shot when the helicopter picks up the car full of Evil Minions.
  • Trap Door - Blofeld has a bridge that collapses on command, dropping whatever is on it into the piranha-infested water. He uses it to execute Number 11 Helga Brandt. Also subverted when Japanese Secret Service chief Tiger Tanaka uses one of these (plus a slide) on Bond.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Blofeld is being paid to start World War Three between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., apparently by agents of Red China.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Say, did those American and Soviet astronauts ever make it back home?
  • You Have Failed Me...

The 1964 novel contains examples of: