October 9, 2011

Asian Bond Girls

If you're an avid fan of James Bond movies, then you know what the qualifications are to be dubbed a "Bond Girl." If you need a definition, I'll paraphrase this one given by Robert Caplen, from his book Shaken & Stirred: The Feminism of James Bond:
A Bond girl is a character or actress portraying a love or sex interest, of James Bond in a film or novel. These ladies occasionally have names that are double entendres or puns, such as "Pussy Galore", "Plenty O'Toole", "Xenia Onatopp", or "Holly Goodhead." Bond girls are considered ubiquitous symbol of glamour and sophistication.
Bearing that in mind, we know that not every lady who has appeared in a Bond film meets the criteria for being a Bond Girl, and there are only three Asian ladies that do. One being veteran Hong Kong action starlet, Michelle Yeoh (pictured above) who played "Wai Lin" in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. Most Bond aficionados would consider Michelle the most prominent Asian Bond Girl of all and Life magazine named Yeoh/Wai Lin the 11th best Bond Girl of all time. Whenever I see her as Wai Lin, the hauntingly erotic voice of Sheryl Crow singing the film's title song goes through my head. The best Bond film title song ever, in this writer's opinion. You'll here it after the jump.

Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki in You Only Live Twice, in which she co-starred opposite original Bond, Sean Connery. She was one of the first two Asian Bond Girls. Akiko was originally slated for the (smaller) role of Kissy Suzuki while Mie Hama was to play the larger part of Aki, but since Akiko's English skills were better than Mie's, their roles were switched. She just made one more film after this one before retiring from acting, reportedly citing an injury she received during the filming of a movie. She now resides in the "Whatever Happened to..?" file.

Akiko in another still from the film

Mie Hama, the other Asian Bond girl who co-starred in You Only Live Twice, played Kissy (no, not Krissy) Suzuki. Mie retired from acting in the 80s and has since been reported to be an active environmentalist, still occasionally making public appearances.

Promo shot of Mie for the film
 
Not a Bond Girl per se, but worthy of an honorable mention, is Tsai Chin. She played Ling, Bond's bedmate, who appeared only in a pre-credit scene of You Only Live Twice. After their romp, she sets Bond up for what appears to be his assassination. Tsai also appeared in a Bond film 39 years later, in a small role as a poker player in 2006's Casino Royal

At left, Michelle in a promo shot from Tomorrow Never Dies, wearing the dress she wore in her debut scene, which was her only glamorous scene in the film. At right, as Wai Lin, armed for a shootout with the antagonist's henchmen.

Promo still from the film


 

6 comments:

  1. Great song! Sheryl Crow's voice is so sexy!

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  2. One of these girls will be the fourth ---
    http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/debbiedowner/news/?a=48493

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  3. That is a great song. Too bad Sheryl didn't have a cameo in Tomorrow Never Dies.

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  4. Thanks! Came here from Wikipedia after searching for Bond Girls and Wai Lin. That Life article on the best Bond Girls of all time is not available anymore. I know it's asking a lot but would you happen to have it and possibly consider scanning and uploading it if you do?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, but I don't think that article was ever in the print edition of Life. Only the online edition.

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  5. Sheryl would have made a great Bond girl herself!

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