Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Worst James Bond Movies Ever Made

There has always been a little grey area and a little difficulty under copyright laws and previous court decisions to fully protect all fictional characters as a work of the original owner since the fictional characters become a part of the culture and the fictional characters often take on a "life of their own" in the minds of the public and in some courts. For example, the detective character Sam Spade from THE MALTESE FALCON was not allowed copyright protection in a classic court decision, only opening the doors a little to allowing some use by others of this fictional character. All of this strange grey area and court decision quirks in copyright laws has allowed a few smaller filmmakers to develop some very bizarre James Bond character movie ripoffs in foreign lands where additional local laws on copyrights for fictional characters have produced some often laughable and sometimes amazing in outrageous concept films. It is simply amazing that these films were ever allowed to even see the light of day.

Of course the better known, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN from 1983 was the finest nonEON Productions version of any James Bond movie ever made based on the Ian Fleming character, and the 1967 satire comedy version of CASINO ROYALE starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen had a few good moments as well as well a great soundtrack by Herb Alpert as another nonEON Productions film using the Ian Fleming James Bond character, but few know of some far less noble efforts using the famous fictional spy from the classic Ian Fleming novels that sometimes tested the ability of the courts to protect the James Bond character from infringement or damage to the reputation of the official enterprise.

1966 brought on the weird and strange, JAMES BATMAN, from the Philippines in which a thinly disguised James Bondtype character with a slightly changed name teams up with Batman of all people. Amazingly, this mess of a film gets a 5.4 out of 10 rating on one movie review website. 1967 also spurred OPERATION KID BROTHER in which Neil Connery played spy when his older brother, James, just wasn't available for duty at the time for some odd reason.

By 1971, an ultracheap low budget Indian film company produced what had to the Citizen Kane of bad James Bond movies. JAMES BOND 777, featured an Indian actor in a pompadour with a mustache. The film mixed in some of the worst poor quality B&W footage ever filmed passed off as James Bondtype action scenes and even included an Indian song and dance number. Compared to even the very weakest film in the official James Bond franchise series, this is a sheer laughfest and amateur filmmaking at it's very worst. There is even an interesting JAMES BOND 777 theme song included in the movie making for even more curiosity about this strange James Bond character ripoff. Even Ed Wood himself couldn't have done the James Bond character any worst than this simply awful film.

1975 brought on yet another James Bond ripoff, this time called BON BAISERS DE HONG KONG, but also named FROM HONG KONG WITH LOVE. This French film starred among others, Mickey Rooney. M and Moneypenny need to recruit a new spy to replace James Bond after he's killed by gunfire. Yet, it's just hard to imagine Mickey Rooney in a James Bondtype film of any type. This just isn't a real great film effort here.

In 1977, the Indian filmmakers were back at it again with another James Bond ripoff with AGENT VONOD, however this film was far better quality than the nonBollywood JAMES BOND 777 film from 1971. This film involved the kidnapping of a scientist and James Bond, again played by some Indian actor, is involved in the rescue. This film is almost watchable.

In 1978, there was a Bruce Lee inspired martial arts fantasy film named, THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN, in which Bruce Lee(played by a Hong Kong actor since Bruce Lee was dead by this time) wakes up in the underworld and meets up with James Bond among others. Truly real strange stuff here.

The Italians decided to get into the act and produce a James Bond ripoff in 1981 in TAIS TOI QUAND TU PARLES in which an Italian man, Giacomo(James)imagines that he is James Bond and lives out the action and romances of this spy in his mental fantasies.

Very strangely, 1984's MAD MISSION 3: Our MAN FROM BOND STREET included many realistic James Bond series elements including Richard Kiel who played Jaws in the actual EON Production series as well as a character much like Oddjob. Even the actor who played James Bond in the movie looked quite similiar to Sean Connery in many ways. And even more strangely, one scene was so similiar to a scene from the official EON Productions A VIEW TO A KILL that you cannot help but be convinced that this strange movie helped to inspire some parts of an official James Bond film.

In 1986, Indian filmmakers brought the world yet another terrible James Bond ripoff film, BOND 303, in which a much less than good looking James Bond doesn't give audiences any "license to thrill" at all. This Indian James Bond certainly doesn't meet up with your expectations of the handsome leading man of action and romance on any level.

In 1992, yet another Indian James Bond ripoff reared it's ugly head as MR. BOND, in which India's greatest detective combats the evil villain, Dragon, who is out kidnapping children. One reviewer claims that this film involves more musical song and dance numbers, and judging from many Indian films, that sounds like it may real be reasonable to assume.

In 1994, the last well known James Bond ripoff film was produced in Hong Kong named FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE, which involved some aspects of comedy and satire along with a keen sense of martial arts cinema. A retired James Bond comes out of retirement and battles a villain, Golden Gun, while another character very similiar to Jaws also stars in this strange premised bit of Hong Kong shlock cinema. This film actually grossed a huge $37 million dollars in Hong Kong box office receipts, and would have probably made a lot more money if it had not been banned in mainland China because it featured a plotline involving corruption of some police officials.

It is a strange quirk of copyright laws involving characters that so many ripoffs of the highly successful James Bond franchise have been produced so far. News of this sort probably keeps lawyers employed by the official HARRY POTTER enterprise and other large fictional character franchises awake at night concerned about protection of their characters from possible infringement. In fact, a legal effort to quash an independently produced HARRY POTTER reference book was recently challenged in court by the official HARRY POTTER Enterprise. Yet all of this brings up the question of how much are fictional characters part of the public culture and how much are they property of the creator. Fictional character copyright law is indeed far more complicated than meets the eye and less clearly drawn than other copyright law. It is not completely out of the question that some simply awful book or movie sequels without the quality of the original works may actually be legal in a few cases. But the question for the consuming public is whether this ruins the reputation of the original works of the original producers or whether these must be laughably viewed as paying some great respect to the original works. Strange stuff this legal world.


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