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The film:

  • Ass Pull: The circular saw function on Bond's watch comes completely out of nowhere. Although since we don't have the usual Q scene where he explains the watch and its abilities, it's justified. M just returns Bond's watch that Q has repaired, and when he makes a snarky comment about the waste of taxpayer's money, Bond reveals it's a Q watch by magnetically stealing his spoon.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Not to an especially egregious extent, though the idea of the supernatural existing in the world of James Bond is something even the franchise's most ardent fans have a hard time accepting, which is perhaps why it is the only film to date to imply that it does. Also worthy of mention is Kananga's elaborate plot to distribute heroin for free across the US to monopolize the drug trade, a rather underwhelming scheme when lined up against the ambitions of so many other villains in the series.
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  • Awesome Music: The title theme by Paul McCartney and Wings. Whoa. So much so that Guns N' Roses did a cover of it.
  • Badass Decay: Bond is supposed to be a very good spy and secret agent. Yet on this movie it is quite jarring how everybody seems to know what he is, what's he's up to, and what he's doing. Not only that, but they're following and tailing him at almost every single instant in the whole film, to the point he gets betrayed twice and trapped three times. At least part of this is explained by Solitaire's tarot reading giving the bad guys a heads up. After that, Mr. Big is well connected. There is also a recurring theme in the Roger Moore films where Bond is less of a secret agent and more of a living legend given Scaramanga's reaction to him (which is not entirely unlikely given how he is a One-Man Army who has saved the whole world at least twice by this point), but even in that case, the bad guys getting the drop on Bond so many times is something that is rare even on other Moore Bond films.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
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    • Bond shoots Baron Samedi, only for him to shatter like a vase and then reappear. In fact, with the Hollywood Voodoo and Solitaire's tarot card ability, this is the only Bond film to have any implied supernatural elements.
    • The emphasis on Bond using an espresso machine seems like this to today's audience. Especially considering the complete lack of a scene involving Q and his gadgets.
  • Broken Base: Relating to Baron Samedi's immortality, Solitaire's Virgin Power of clairvoyance, and the implication that Kananga is old enough to be Solitaire's grandfather despite appearing to be in his late 40s. Accepting that these are real (and there is a lot of potential evidence that they are) means that you are accepting the existence of magic in the James Bond franchise, which is understandably something that a lot of people have a problem with in their spy fiction. Especially if you are a fan of the darker and more realistic incarnations of Bond such as Timothy Dalton. (That said, "magic in James Bond" is Older Than They Think - in the novels, this one, From Russia with Love and You Only Live Twice all feature surprisingly accurate prophesies.)
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  • Captain Obvious Reveal: The reveal that Dr. Kananga and Mister Big are the same person is supposed to be surprising, though it falls flat because Yaphet Kotto obviously plays both, wearing paper-thin makeup as Mr. Big, and he has the same henchmen serving him in both personas.
  • Creepy Awesome: Much of Baron Samedi's fame stem of how creepy he is and how we know nothing about him. His laugh helps.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Baron Samedi is probably the most well-remembered character from the film. He would later get a guest role in the GoldenEye game.
    • For her faults, Solitaire is often considered as one of the most beautiful Bond girls in the franchise, which is really no small feat.
    • Tee-Hee is fairly popular. It's easy to like a tough, cheerful and Affably Evil henchman. So much that some like to believe that he survived being thrown out of the train in the epilogue.
    • David Hedison is one of the more popular actors to portray Felix Leiter. His likability in the part and his great chemistry with Roger Moore probably did much to convince the producers to bring him back opposite Timothy Dalton sixteen years later in Licence to Kill.
  • Evil Is Cool: Baron Samedi and Tee-Hee would both qualify, see Ensemble Dark Horse above.
  • Fair for Its Day: For all the cringeworthy portrayals of African-Americans as jive-talking superstitious criminals, Bond's two most competent allies, Quarell and Strutter, are both African-American, and the bigoted white sheriff J.W. Pepper is portrayed as and openly referred to as an idiot. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can write off the "jive-talking superstitious" part of that last sentence as Kananga's personal fetish, enforcing the theme on his underlings. You could also note that Yaphet Kotto plays Kananga as being every bit as sophisticated, intelligent and dangerous as any other Bond villain.
  • Genius Bonus: At the close of the pre-credits sequence, to ratchet up the tension of the agent's death, the musical score quotes the Huge Chord from The Beatles' "A Day in the Life". The film's composer was George Martin, the Beatles' producer.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Magnificent Bastard: Dr. Kananga, dictator of San Monique, uses Voodoo religions to maintain a tight control on the populace. Eliminating a number of MI6 agents investigating him, Kananga plots to monopolize the heroin trade in America. Disguising himself as rough Harlem gangster Mr. Big to fool any onlookers and divert suspicion to a man who doesn't even exist. Kananga processes heroin on his island and intends on sending 'free samples' to double the amount of addicts before he begins charging, utterly dominating the trade. Staying two steps ahead of Bond for most of the film, Kananga proves himself a charming, suave mastermind and more than a match for 007's best.
  • Narm:
    • Inflatable Yaphet Kotto, for a start.
    • Mr. Big's "Names is for tombstones, baby. Take that honky out and waste him!"
    • Felix Leiter's "Get me a make on a white Pimpmobile!"
    • During the title sequence one of the dancing girls has what can only be described as a fifteen second spaz attack.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Italian agent Miss Caruso, seen only in the opening scene where she had slept with Bond after a mission in Rome, then hides in the closet from M when he and Moneypenny unexpectedly show up at Bond's apartment.
    • Adam, one of the the Big Bad's goons who leads the lengthy boat chase after Bond.
    • Dambala, Baron Samedi's snake-handling follower who wears a thong and a goat-skin headpiece, appears in two scenes, but one is very brief, and he doesn't talk in either scene. 
  • The Scrappy: Sheriff J. W. Pepper, to a certain extent, although this really set in for him after he reappeared in The Man with the Golden Gun. Amusingly the designer for Victory Games' RPG based on the franchise glommed onto the character for this reason: a lot of random encounter charts call for the sheriff to appear wherever the player characters are and attach himself to them in order to make their activities more difficult.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Generally considered a campy and rather stereotypical period piece that is lifted up by a suspenseful plot driven by Roger Moore and Jane Seymour's standout performances.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Kananga's death scene. There were limits on how realistic they could have possibly made that sequence without outraging the censors at the time. Still, it just goes to show what a poor idea that method of dispatch really was.
    • It's quite obvious that the actor playing Tee-Hee is wearing a prop claw (you can see his wrist bending the sleeves, even though it's supposed to be solid steel).
    • When Whisper carries Bond after he's been knocked out by Tee-Hee, he's obviously carrying a rubber dummy.
    • Averted, surprisingly, on Bond's escape after being left to be eaten by crocodiles in a very small island. Instead of using fake props, those were actually real crocodiles. That ain't Moore or even a proper stunt double running on top of them. That's the owner of the ranch, Kananga himself.
    • Also averted with Bond using his magnetic watch to give his Italian lover Ms. Caruso a not so Shameful Strip once they're alone. It was basically just a very thin wire connecting the watch to her dress zipper but it's impossible to see. However there appears to be a crew member's hand holding her dress steady, though most might ignore it in favor of seeing the lovely Ms. Caruso's backside and top of her panties be revealed again.
    • When Tee Hee bends the barrel of Bond's PPK, it's obviously a thin piece of metal that doesn't match the finish of the rest of the slide.
    • Mr. Big's reveal as Dr. Kananga; the mask simply does not achieve the intended effect and most can probably make the connection by the time he's shown himself to Bond.
    • The snake Dambala uses during the voodoo ceremonies is clearly made of plastic.
  • They Changed It, So It Sucks: There was resentment about the absence of Desmond Llewelyn's Q, who was brought back for every next film up through 1999's The World Is Not Enough.
  • Uncanny Valley: Because Yaphet Kotto is wearing a real Latex Perfection mask to play "Mr. Big", and because in real life such masks tend to have this effect due to not being as effective as they are in movies, there's something noticeably off about Mr. Big's appearance.
  • Values Dissonance: The scene where Bond tricks Solitaire into sleeping with him is pretty uncomfortable by modern standards, doubly so because she's one of the few women Bond's bedded to be clearly unhappy afterwards (though not because she didn't enjoy the sex, but because she was afraid that Kananga would kill her for it).
  • What an Idiot!: Dr. Kananga decides to dispose of Bond and Solitaire by feeding them to sharks, which come to feed in a pool in his lair.
    You'd Expect: Kananga to shoot or drug the two, then throw them into the water and let the sharks dispose of their remains.
    Instead: He has them tied to a rignote  which is very slowly and gently lowered into the water. Kananga's mook Whisper actually proves somewhat wiser than his boss and initially tries to lower them in quickly, presumably so that they'll drown before they can try to escape, but Kananga overrules him on the grounds that he wants them eaten alive. This gives Bond the chance to use the super-powered electromagnet in his watch to escape and foil Kananga once and for all.
  • The Woobie: Solitaire, Good God. Obligated to serve a cruel and possessive madman who constantly has her under his thumb just like her mother and grandmother before her, Solitaire is under constant threat of death if she were to ever go astray or to lose her divine powers by enjoying intimacy with anyone. And the only way she would be released from this commitment is if Kananga himself makes love to her. When she violates this pact by making love with Bond, an act he engineered in part just to get information out of her, Kananga smacks her down and condemns her to die. Terrified and unable to fight her way out alone, it's impossible not to feel sorry for her through her entire ordeal.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: An excusable case as it was simply a product of the times, but damn near every outfit seen on screen just screams of the Seventies all throughout. Less forgivable is Kananga's guise as Mr. Big, with his mask and wig barely concealing who he really is.

The book:

  • Fair for Its Day: This was Ian Fleming's second 007 novel (1954) - while the book's narrative and the black dialect Bond hears in Harlem read pretty cringe-worthy, and Bond's got some very politically incorrect attitudes towards blacks, he does observe that a typical young couple in the restaurant he goes to is interested in the same things as everyone else in the world, and is glad "they're not genteel about it". Mister Big himself notes that blacks have made major contributions to many human endeavors, and aims to be the first black super-criminal. Felix Leiter is also openly accepting of blacks and even reminds Bond to be less rude when referring to them. Also, during Bond's initial briefing, even M (a hidebound reactionary even by the standards of the time) says that Mr. Big or someone like him was inevitable.
    "The Negro races are just beginning to throw up geniuses in all the professions-scientists, doctors, writers. It's about time they turned out a great criminal. After all, there are 250,000,000 of them in the world. Nearly a third of the white population. They've got plenty of brains and ability and guts. And now Moscow's taught one of them the technique."

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