[MOVIE REVIEW]Bond shakes up formula, managing to stir critics

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Bond shakes up formula, managing to stir critics

James Bond was reserved and weary to the ways of the world in "GoldenEye," Pierce Brosnan's debut as 007.

Seven years later, in "Die Another Day" Bond -- and Brosnan -- have jettisoned political correctness and leaped into a high-octane adventure.

"Die Another Day" starts with a glorified surfing scene. By the time the opening credits have rolled, James Bond has been betrayed, captured and tortured in a North Korean army camp. The explosions are nonstop, the cars are cool, the gadgets are deadly and the ladies are lovely. With plenty of stunts, cheeky sexual innuendo and a confusing plot involving African diamonds, "Die Another Day" is serious, sensual entertainment.

After Bond is traded for the North Korean agent Zao (Rick Yune), M tells Bond, "While you were away, the world changed," which is also true of the Bond franchise.

Since the Bond series began four decades ago, the threat of the Cold War has vaporized with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the U.S.S.R.

Even within the Bond tradition, the Bond girls have lost their delicate touch. The women in "Die Another Day" are strong. Instead of sexual tension, the relationships that Bond develops have superficial detachment.

The director Lee Tamahori salutes the good old days with Halle Berry first appearing in a sun-kissed tribute to the first Bond girl, Ursula Andress, in "Dr. No" (1962). But even with that reference, "Die Another Day" is less about nostalgia and glamour, and more about today's high-speed world of wham-bam entertainment. Those famous lines, "Shaken, not stirred" and "Bond, James Bond," are sparsely used.

And so "Die Another Day" lacks certain feelings -- heartbreak, sadness and remorse -- that wove through 007 movies with Roger Moore, Sean Connery and even Brosnan's first Bond.

Some might consider that a sell-out. But in order for each new movie to thrive, it must find a younger audience. In "Die Another Day," we have a James Bond who kiteboards. The movie makes references to hip vacation spots -- Iceland -- and current hot spots -- North Korea.

In "Die Another Day" the rogue state is North Korea, which is proving eerily accurate despite the uproar in the South about Hollywood's demeaning portrayal of Koreans.

But the portrayal of one North Korean in "Die Another Day" is merely stupid. Yune plays a North Korean with a diamond-studded face, and speaks with a poor Korean accent. Demeaning, on the other hand, is the sniveling, nerdy Mr. Yunioshi, the upstairs neighbor in the Audrey Hepburn romance "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The actor in that role, Mickey Rooney, wasn't even Asian.

Otherwise, when it comes to digitally enhanced adventure, as Bond tracks Zao through Hong Kong, Cuba, England, Iceland and North Korea, "Die Another Day" delivers.

by Joe Yong-hee

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