The Man With the Golden Gun appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the movie looked great.
Sharpness seemed terrific. Only a minor smidgen of softness crept into a few wide shots. Otherwise the film was crisp and well-defined. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement created no concerns. Print flaws also remained absent. From start to finish, the flick was clean and concise.
Colors tended to appear quite bold and vivid. The Asian setting provided lots of opulent costumes, and the DVD rendered the hues accurately and brightly. Colored lighting was tight as well, and the colors always worked nicely. Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadow detail was fine. This was a consistently pleasing image.
As with all the Bond “Ultimate Editions”, Gun came with new Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. (The DVD also included the original monaural audio as well.) To my ears, neither surpassed the other. Both mixes sounded virtually identical to me.
And that was fine, since both of them offered very nice sonics. The soundfield wasn’t amazing, but it opened up matters pretty well. Music showed solid stereo imaging, and effects also broadened across the spectrum. We got instances of localized speech and various effects blended together well. Surround usage wasn’t heavy, but the surrounds added decent reinforcement to the front and threw in a few exclusive elements as well.
Quality varied but was more than acceptable. Music worked best. The score and songs were wonderfully bright and bold throughout the movie. The other elements seemed less impressive, but they seemed appropriate given their age. Speech could be a little flat and reedy, but the lines stayed intelligible and reasonably concise. Effects fell into the same boat. Though they lacked great precision, they were clean and also boasted some very nice bass response. Low-end was a strength of this mix. Overall, the audio worked well and impressed.
How did the picture and audio of this 2006 “Ultimate Edition” compare to those of the prior release? Both showed improvements. The picture looked cleaner and tighter, and the audio showed better dimensionality. Though this wasn’t a remarkable improvement over the prior DVD, it definitely showed a step up in quality.
For this “Ultimate Edition”, we find all the extras from that earlier release as well as a mix of new elements. I’ll mark all the exclusive components with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, the piece also appeared on the old DVD.
On DVD One, we get two audio commentaries. The first is a non-screen-specific track pieced together from a series of interviews with principals such as director Guy Hamilton, actors Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Clifton James, and Soon-Taik Oh, continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, co-writer Tom Mankiewicz, stunt coordinator WJ Milligan, composer John Barry, consultant Michael Wilson, production designer Peter Murton, miniatures supervisor Derek Meddings, and cinematographer Ozzie Morris. All of this is linked by narration from Bond historian David Naylor, who introduces the participants and adds plenty of valuable details himself.
The track discusses cast and crew, locations, sets and production design, story issues, changes from the original script and the adaptation of the novel, stunts, various effects, and other topics from the shoot. Like the other Bond commentaries, this one often remains anecdotal in nature. This means lots of stories but not a ton of the usual nuts and bolts details. Still, these tales give us a good impression of the production, and there’s enough concrete material about the film’s creation to satisfy. The piece adds up to an enjoyable and reasonably informative track.
We also find a new commentary from *actor Roger Moore. He provides a running, screen-specific piece – sort of. While Moore indeed chats as he watches the movie, he prefers a more general, anecdotal structure, so don’t expect a ton of truly screen-specific remarks.
Not that I mind. Moore discusses his reflections about various cast and crew, attempts to make his Bond different than Sean Connery’s and general character thoughts, martial arts training, shooting in Thailand, and many anecdotes. Those dominate the program and make it warm. The commentary starts slowly, as it takes Moore a while to build a head of steam. Once he does so, though, he makes this an enjoyable and informative chat. There’s more dead air than I’d like, but the quality of the information compensates to ensure we get our money’s worth here.
Over on DVD Two, we find five elements under Declassified: MI6 Vault. A snippet from *The Russell Harty Show goes for two minutes, 59 seconds. It features Moore and actor Herve Villechaize. These utilize many cuts, a factor that causes distractions. Moore doesn’t give us much that he doesn’t mention in his commentary, while Villechaize doesn’t appear long enough to tell us a lot.
A short clip called *On Location with The Man With the Golden Gun follows. In this one-minute and 32-second program, we get narration from Bond producer Michael Wilson as we watch shots from the Hong Kong streets. The piece is too short to be terribly valuable, but it offers a decent glimpse of the location.
The promise of titillation comes along with *Girls Fighting. The three-minute and 30-second featurette includes notes from Wilson again as he discusses the footage. We watch dailies of the two Asian women who play the battling schoolgirls. It’s pretty good stuff as it allows us a “fly on the wall” feel.
A stunt film titled *American Thrill Show runs five minutes, 17 seconds. A promotional piece for JM Productions, this displays the 360-degree roll later featured in the film. That makes it useful to see. We can watch this with or without JM’s WJ Milligan. He tells us about the film and the stunts.
Also in this area comes an audio-only component. *The Road to Bond: Stunt Coordinator WJ Milligan lasts eight minutes, one second as Milligan discusses his childhood fascination with vehicles and stunts, the development of JM, and specifics of his work. This becomes rather dry and technical, but it includes some interesting notes.
For the last part of the “Vault”, we get *Guy Hamilton: The Director Speaks. The five-minute and five-second clip shows production stills over which Hamilton tells us of his career. He talks about his early days in the business as well as his involvement in the Bond series. It’s a nice chat.
With that we head to the *007 Mission Control Interactive Guide. This splits into components under seven different headings: “007”, “Women”, “Allies”, “Villains”, “Mission Combat Manual”, “Q Branch”, and “Exotic Locations”. An odd form of “greatest hits”, this simply presents a few selected scenes that match the topics.
One of the only interesting elements comes from the presentation of the opening credits without text (2:32). “Locations” (4:53) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Maud Adams chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. That makes it more useful than the others since they just show snippets from the final film. The rest of the set is a waste of time.
Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with Inside The Man With the Golden Gun. The program runs for 30 minutes, 57 seconds and change as it packs a lot of good information into that time. We find interviews combined with archival footage from the set and other period stills and materials. The program features remarks from Moore, Murton, Hamilton, Wilson, Lee, Ekland, Adams, Oh, James, Milligan, Morris, co-writer Tom Mankiewicz, continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, co-art director Peter Lamont, former Eon Productions marketing VP Jerry Juroe, production buyer Ron Quelch, special effects supervisor John Stears, and miniatures creator Derek Meddings.
While I wish they'd focussed at least a little on the film's negative reputation, but I can't blame them too much for avoiding the topic. After all, it's not like the movie's stench compares to more famous examples such as Ishtar or Heaven's Gate, films that would really have to discuss that aspect of their fame. All in all, the documentary works well and presents a nice assortment of details.
Double-O Stuntmen lasts 28 minutes, 37 seconds and provides a nice tribute to all of the stuntmen who have made the Bond series such a success. It features Moore, Juroe, Hamilton, Oh, Milligan, stuntmen Jake Lombard, Rick Sylvester, Richard Graydon, Joe Robinson, Alf Joint, William P. Suitor, Bill Sawyer, and Jake Brake, stunt coordinators George Leech, Martin Grace, Vic Armstrong, Simon Crane and Paul Weston, Willy Bogner, BJ Worth, editor Peter Hunt, and 2nd AD Arthur Wooster.
Various "big ticket" events from the entire series are surveyed through great behind the scenes footage, and plenty of interviews with the stuntmen and those with whom they worked appears as well. The piece gave me an even greater appreciation for the work that these folks do, and it came across as very entertaining as well.
Gun features the standard package of promotional materials under Propaganda Ministry. We get a teaser trailer and theatrical preview for the film - neither of which is anything special - plus two similarly-ordinary TV ads. Three mildly interesting radio spots appear as well. Usually at least some of the Bond promos are worth note, but this batch seems rather unexceptional. Oh well.
Next we find a photo gallery. Credited as the Image Database, this one includes approximately 110 pictures spread across 11 different sections. A number of fun photos appear, so the program deserves a look.
Finally, we get a nice booklet. It includes a lot of good notes.
Despite its poor reputation, I found The Man With the Golden Gun to offer a generally enjoyable experience. The film certainly displays flaws, but my overall opinion remains favorable. The DVD itself provides very good picture and audio along with a terrific set of extras. The Man With the Golden Gun will never reside terribly high on my list of Bond favorites, but I'm happy I own it, and other Bond fans will likely feel the same.
How about those aficionados who already own the original Gun DVD – should they snag the “Ultimate Edition”? I’d recommend it. The UE offers improved visuals and audio plus a smattering of useful new extras. It’s a good upgrade.
Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of The Man With the Golden Gun can be purchased only as part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume One”. This five-movie set also includes The World Is Not Enough, The Living Daylights, Diamonds Are Forever, and Goldfinger.