Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Tomorrow Never Dies (4½ Stars)
"Tomorrow never dies" is the 18th James Bond film, made in 1997. It's the second film to star Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. I was particularly excited when it was made because it starred Michelle Yeoh as the film's Bond girl, Wai Lin. Actually there are two Bond girls. In the photo above Teri Hatcher is shown on the left as Paris Carver, while Michelle Yeoh is shown on the right. There are frequently two good Bond girls, of whom one is killed early in the film. That's Paris Carver in "Tomorrow never dies". Wai Lin is the girl who survives to the end so that the film can close with her lying in Bond's arms.
So what's so exciting about Michelle Yeoh? From the first time I heard she would appear I knew she would be different to all the Bond girls before her. The Bond girls are eye candy for the viewer and sex toys for James Bond. Their sole purpose is to act as damsels in distress for the mighty hero to save, so that they can jump into his arms and his bed. That's not Michelle Yeoh. Ever since her early films, such as "Magnificent Warriors" and "The Heroic Trio", she was an action hero. It was expected that as a Bond girl she would be a martial artist on a par with Bond himself. This was the case. In the film it isn't just about James Bond saving her; they fight side by side and take turns saving one another.
In "Tomorrow Never Dies" there's a power-mad villain, as always, but in this film he isn't attempting to conquer the world. The villain is only the head of an international news corporation. He wants his newspapers to be the most read and his television stations to be the most watched, so he resorts to underhand tricks. He creates an international incident between China and Britain, threatening to make the two countries go to war. He does this so that he can be the first one to report the news. Step by step he causes the situation to escalate, always standing on the front line with his news report planned before the events have even occurred.
This is where Wai Lin fits in. The British secret service sends James Bond to investigate, and the Chinese secret service sends Wai Lin. The two agents each want to protect their own countries, but to do this they have to unite against their common enemy.
The public loved Michelle Yeoh. They were tired of James Bond's sexist attitudes and wanted a woman who could stand up to him. After the film there was talk of Michelle returning, making her the first Bond girl to return in a second film. I had mixed feelings. about it. On the one hand Michelle Yeoh was a fantastic actress that I wanted to see again. On the other hand, one of the key elements of the Bond formula was the appearance of a new girl in every film, showing that he had no interest in romance. As it was, the film studio decided not to bring her back. The next film returned to the usual damsel in distress girl. Almost. The next girl was actually a highly intelligent and independent scientist, but that's a topic for my next review.