(This is the second of 50 pieces I’ll post here over the next several months. They originally appeared in a Facebook group devoted to three of us choosing our 50 favorite movies. I’ll present them un-edited except for typos or egregious errors. I’ll also add a post-script to each.)
I’m cheating a bit here, and it’s only my second entry. I’ve chosen Tomorrow Never Dies, even though it’s not anywhere near my favorite Bond movie (that would probably be From Russia with Love). Tomorrow Never Dies is decent enough, arguably Pierce Brosnan’s best 007 film. But it’s on this list because I was always going to have a James Bond movie, and because I wanted to write about Michelle Yeoh.
As others have noted, Yeoh would have made a great Jane Bond. There is often talk of mixing up the series, maybe have a black Bond, or a gay Bond, or an anything-but-Bond Bond. If they had the guts to give us a female Malaysian Bond, that would be mixing it up. Yeoh’s greatness is evident in Tomorrow Never Dies, which coughs and wheezes its way through most scenes in which she is absent. She doesn’t get to do her own stunts this time (Jackie Chan famously let her do her own stunts in his movies), but she does do her own fighting, and honestly, she looks more realistic as an ass-kicker than Brosnan does.
The problem is that while Yeoh is what makes this a special Bond film, her presence also reminds us of Hong Kong films like Yes, Madam and The Heroic Trio that make better use of her talents. To say nothing of the Jackie Chan film Police Story 3: Super Cop, which includes a Yeoh-on-motorcycle stunt that tops even the exciting motorcycle chase in Tomorrow Never Dies. Even the best this Bond film has to offer tends to remind you of something better.
So, if you don’t like cheating, imagine that I’ve made From Russia with Love my choice for #49. And dream of a world where Michelle Yeoh got to play 007.
(I should add that the director, Roger Spottiswoode, also directed my choice for #50. He did a better job on that one. With apologies to fans of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, this will be Spottiswoode’s last appearance on my list.)
The comments for this one centered around the fact that most of the people didn’t actually care for James Bond movies. One commenter wondered how this could be one of my favorite films if the actress is better in other movies. I promised she would show up again later on the list.