The film starts with a sharply dressed Herve Villechaize serving champagne to a three-nippled Christopher Lee at the beach. The manservant is playing a complicated game. He has secretly brought a man to their house, seemingly to kill the three-nippled man, who we learn is named Scaramanga.
This would-be assassin attempts to ambush Scaramanga but this house is not what it seems to be. It is no mere beachside mansion, it is nothing less than a funhouse of death! Finding himself beset by garish deathtraps, the intruder is freaked out. Meanwhile, Scaramanga searches the maze for a weapon.
Nick Nack, the manservant, is running a deadly game. Through the funhouse he is able to toy with both Scaramanga and the intruder. In the end, Scaramanga is the victor. But this wasn’t a betrayal. Apparently, he arranges these little contests to keep him sharp. He celebrates his victory by shooting a wax statue of James Bond.
The opening credits are super boring but the music is good. Lulu sings to an odd brassy theme.
In M’s office, Bond rattles off a dossier’s worth of info on Scaramanga. He was raised in a circus as a trick shot. He is a first class assassin. He kills each of his victims with a single shot. He charges one million dollars per kill. He carries a golden gun that fires golden bullets. He has three nipples.
M informs Bond that MI6 has received a golden bullet with “007” engraved onto it and that they believe that this means Scaramanga will attempt to kill Bond. For this reason, Bond is being pulled off of his current assignment.
Sadly, Moneypenny is reduced to a mere cameo.
Bond is rather put out and takes it upon himself to track Scaramanga himself so that he can get back to his job. This involves some seduction, some fighting, and some light comedy before Bond gets his hands on a bullet used to murder one of Scaramanga’s previous victims.
Bond visits Q, who steers him toward the chap who crafted the golden bullet, a man in Macau named Lazar.
I really like this next bit. Lazar, an expert in exotic weaponcraft shows off his workshop to Bond. It is a procedural scene with a hint of the exotic. Lazar is an affable craftsman who takes pride in his work. Unfortunately, Bond bullies him until he gives up what he knows about Scaramanga.
Bond meets up with Mary Goodnight, a young woman who apparently has history with Bond. She is smitten, but Bond treats her like garbage. She provides him with local intel.
Bond begins tailing a woman for unclear reasons. He breaks into her hotel room, entering the bathroom as she takes a shower. However, she emerges from the shower with a pistol.
She doesn’t want any of what Bond is selling, but he disarms her and slaps her around until she tells him what she knows about Scaramanga. Her name is Anders and she works for Scaramanga and is his sometimes lover. She advises Bond to visit the Bottoms Up Club.
This movie started strong but as it has gone on it has been too 70’s brown, too dull, too leering, too thuggish. It is all around unpleasant.
At the Bottoms Up Club, Scaramanga is lying in wait, but instead of killing Bond, he kills some other guy right in front of him. Before he can figure out what is going on, Bond is ushered away by a Hong Kong official named Hip to a totally sweet secret base in the wreckage of a partially sunken ocean liner, the Queen Elizabeth.
M is there, as is Q, and he explains to Bond that the dude that was killed at the club was a solar energy expert who had recently created a breakthrough in solar cell technology.
Later, Bond uses a fake third nipple to pose as Scaramanga in an attempt to trick a Hai Fat, a Thai gangster, into admitting culpability in arranging the murder. It doesn’t work, and after Bond leaves, we learn that Fat was already entertaining Scaramanga and knows exactly who Bond is.
Hai Fat’s plan to dispatch Bond is to invite Bond to dinner, as a pretense to attack him with Sumo Wrestlers. Bond defeats one Sumo by giving him an extreme wedgie but he is knocked out by Nick Nack.
Nick Nack is about to kill the unconscious Bond with a trident, but before he can, Hai Fat plays the “not in my home” card.
When Bond wakes up, he finds himself the prisoner of an evil Kung Fu academy. He beats up a couple of students before Hip, his Hong Kong helper arrives, bringing with him some Karate Master nieces to help bust out Bond.
After some light Kung Fu, Bond parts ways with his Asian friends, and ends up escaping via boat. This leads to a weak boat chase.
In the middle of this boat chase, who wanders in but J. W. Pepper, the redneck sheriff from the previous film. Pepper is on vacation, and inexplicably is here to shout ugly racist things. Last time around, his presence felt like an attempt to make the film seem less racist by comparison, this time it appears the filmmakers just though it would be funny if there was a guy who shouted racist things.
This “comedy” ruins the already flat pace of the boat chase. During the chase Bond finds the time to cruelly toss a child into a river for his own amusement. Needless to say, he escapes his captors.
Scaramanga has become Hai Fat’s junior partner for dubious reasons. He now murders Fat and assumes total control of his criminal enterprise. It is a very unconvincing coup.
Bond reunites with Goodnight and the two spend a quiet moment together. Bond finally deigns to make a crude pass at her who rebuffs him, not wanting to be one of his passing fancies. Except, in the very next scene, Goodnight has changed her mind and comes to bed with him. However, before things heat up, Anders arrives. Bond hides Goodnight in the closet.
Anders claims that it was her plan to get Bond on Scaramanga’s trail, that it was her only way to be free of him. She tells Bond that she’ll pay any price if he’ll stop Scaramanga, that he can sleep with her too, if he likes. He takes her up on her offer, with Goodnight still in the closet. It’s gross and cruel at the same time.
Afterward, he arranges to meet Anders at a boxing match, where she will give him a macguffin known as a “Solex Agitator”. When Bond arrives, he sits next to her, but she is dead. After he realizes this, Scaramanga sits down next to him.
Scaramanga tells Bond a story about how he avenged the death of his one and only friend, a circus elephant. Christopher Lee as Scaramanga is flat. Unmenacing. Uninteresting. I do not care for the plight of this elephant.
Meanwhile, through a complex series of handoffs, Goodnight ends up at the fight with the Solex Agitator, but she ends up being tossed in the boot of Scaramanga’s car.
Bond gives chase, commandeering the rental car of J. W. Pepper, with the Sheriff in the passenger seat providing running commentary. Pepper dampens what is an otherwise solid chase scene. The chase contains an amazing stunt that is totally ruined by an astonishingly ill-considered use of a slide-whistle. It is maybe the worst piece of Foley work I’ve ever heard.
Scaramanga escapes by strapping wings and an jet engine onto his car. He takes off with Goodnight still in his boot. Bond follows Goodnight’s tracker into China, eventually landing on Scaramanga’s island.
Scaramanga is happy to find Bond has followed him. He has decided that they are two of a kind. He shows off his evil lair to Bond. He has henchmen and solar apparatuses.
Scaramanga’s evil plan is to, er, sell clean efficient solar energy to the highest bidder. It is pretty altruistic as far as evil plans go. Oh, also he can use his solar stuff to turn the rays of the sun into a heat cannon.
Scaramanga, like Dr. No before him, gives Bond the “we are the same” speech. But instead of wanting to recruit Bond, Scaramanga wants a duel.
Roger Moore Bond doesn’t really seem like the soulless murder machine that Connery was. Moore’s Bond is a creep and a rapist but he doesn’t have Connery’s barely-contained fury. Moore’s Bond treats everything with bemused, haughty detachment. He doesn’t seem at all like the opposite side of Scaramanga’s coin.
Scaramanga lures Bond into his funhouse of death. There are mirrors and death traps and wax models. Bond kills Scaramanga by posing as a wax dummy of himself.
Meanwhile, Goodnight kills one of Scaramanga’s henchmen who was trying to rape her by throwing him into solar machinery. Then she accidentally turns on a solar laser with her butt. The net result of her actions is the destruction of Scaramanga’s compound.
Bond and Goodnight escape in a Chinese junk with the Solex. But as they try to have sex in a boat they are attacked by a knife-wielding Nick Nack. This is not treated as a real threat, just a mean-spirited excuse for Bond to stick a little person in a steamer trunk.
Then Bond and Goodnight fuck on a boat. The End.