Unique Bond

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 August, 1998, 12:00am

Irecently watched the latest James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and I could not stop thinking how bad this once-classic series had become. As usual, the soundtrack was fantastic and the stunts were great, but really they were no more spectacular than the stunts that had thrilled me when I was a teenager, many years ago.

The film was more an exercise in product placement, with the Omega and BMW brands as prominent as Bond girls Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh.

Made evident by the previous Bond film Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan has proven a poor choice for the role of the legendary secret agent - he is about as ineffective as Australian actor George Lazenby was in his one-off Bond appearance in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Actually, Lazenby was better than Brosnan, as he had a better script to work with, and a much cooler bad guy in Telly Savalas. Evil dudes Sean Bean in Goldeneye and Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies could not compare.

Bond number three Roger Moore (number four, if you count David Niven in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale) also had his moments, as the series was still fresh and exciting. But to millions of people around the world, there will only ever be one Bond: Sean Connery.

After appearing in five Bond films in the 1960s, Connery passed on On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He returned to the role in Diamonds Are Forever (Pearl, 9.30pm), having been made an offer he could not refuse: US$1.25 million (HK$9.7 million) and percentage of the receipts - a huge amount at the time.

In Diamonds, Bond travels to the Nevada desert to do battle with the wonderfully wicked Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Grey), an evil tyrant intent on blowing up the world. The film features an array of excellent gadgets, as usual, great scenes of Las Vegas and Jill St John (Tiffany Case) and Lana Woods (Plenty O'Toole) as the Bond girls.

In The Offence (Pearl, 12.30am), Connery is not so likable as a veteran British police officer with a penchant for violence. Struggling to come to terms with the brutality around him, things get even more bleak when he is assigned to a child molestation case. Trevor Howard and Ian Bannen round out a strong cast in this Sidney Lumet film.

I love the Rough Guide (BBC, 5.05pm and 11.05pm), as host Magenta De Vine changes co-hosts as often she changes locales. Tonight, the former Londoner who was part of the outrageous contingent surrounding rock band Sigue Sigue Sputnik, travels to Rajasthan, India's 'land of kings'. De Vine visits Udaipur, a city of lakes and palaces where there is enormous pressure on the female residents to produce male heirs, while co-host Simon O'Brien talks to travellers and locals about how to stay healthy.