tomorrow_never_dies_ver3Tomorrow Never Dies

  • Year:  1997
  • Director:  Roger Spottiswoode
  • Series Rank:  #16
  • Year Rank:  #58
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • Bond Girl:  Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin), Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver)
  • Bond Villain:  Jonathan Pryce (Elliot Carver), Gotz Otto (Stamper), Ricky Jay (Gupta)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Samantha Bond (Moneypenny), Desmond Llewelyn (Q), Joe Don Baker (Jack Wade)

“She looks good,” I said about Teri Hatcher once Veronica saw who the Bond girl would be.  “But then, she’s only in the film to look good.”  Veronica knew that, of course.  She would.  I don’t know how much I knew about Michelle Yeoh when this film came out in 1997.  This was still three years before Crouching Tiger, of course.  But it was also two years before I met Veronica and she introduced me to two kick-ass Hong Kong action films called The Heroic Trio and The Executioners.  So, Veronica always knew that Yeoh would end up as the primary Bond girl and that she was going to kick some serious ass.

1997_Tomorrow_Never_Di_012It takes a while before we get to that.  We only see Yeoh a couple of times in the first half of the film, in which a terrorist swap meet is destroyed, a British ship is sunk, the Chinese are threatened and we learn that our primary Bond villain is essentially Rupert Murdoch without the outlandish Australian accent (and casual racism) who is trying to stir up a war that will end up with him getting exclusive Chinese broadcast rights.  During that time, we see Bond escape with a jet, drive a BMW with a remote control, seduce Teri Hatcher (which won’t end well for her) and have his meet-up with Q (who wants him to sign an insurance waiver for the BMW in what is easily the funniest scene in the film).

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Hatcher was mainly known at this time as the current Lois Lane on television and for being one of the first beautiful actresses to be obsessed upon on the internet, as the cartoon at the right shows (it’s from early 1997).  It was never expected for her to do much, especially when compared to Yeoh.

1997_Tomorrow_Never_Di_026It’s a good thing that Yeoh is pretty much attached to Bond through the second half of the film, because aside from the two chases, she’s the only really strong thing about the film.  The first chase is that aforementioned remote control BMW.  For the second one, Bond and Wai Lin (Yeoh) are handcuffed together on a motorcycle and being chased through the streets of Saigon.  This chase shows off what this (and the last two Brosnan films) does well but also does poorly.  The chase itself is cool – Yeoh has to keep switching positions depending on the situation, either behind Bond, with her hand over his shoulder and her other hand working the clutch, or sitting in front of him, facing him.  But, it also goes on way too long and has too many situations that just start to seem silly.  You could do an entire episode of Mythbusters just on the things that happen during this chase alone.

After the chase we get a glimpse of why Michelle Yeoh is so kick-ass.  She slips out of the handcuff, leaves Bond handcuffed to a pipe and then, when attempted assassins follow her to her hideout, she kicks the living crap out of them.  That’s the Michelle Yeoh I love – not just beautiful, not just a talented actress, but a real action hero.

pryce-tnd1_1203349681But then we still have to have the conclusion, with another villain who has to put up a fight without actually fighting, a “stealth boat” that apparently is built using TARDIS technology given the expansive interior sets and a plot that really isn’t all that good.  If not for the chases, some good scenes with M (an admiral tells her she doesn’t have the balls for the job and she replies “But the advantage is, I don’t have to think with them all the time.”), a much better hairdo for Moneypenny (Samantha Bond took over with Goldeneye and her banter with Bond is quite nice, but she also gets good banter with M, as M comes in on the end of a conversation and Moneypenny says “Don’t ask,” with M responding “Don’t tell.”) and, most especially, Michelle Yeoh, this film would be a lot lower on the list.  It’s definitely the Bond girl that makes this one, which won’t bode well for the next film where it is definitely the Bond girls that help sink it.