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KIDS ON FILM

Taking Stock of Bond

The 'awesome' skills of 007 make 'Tomorrow Never Dies' a hit.

January 22, 1998|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BREA — In "Tomorrow Never Dies," James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) chases down an international media mogul with a yen for world domination. Agent OO7 gets help from a comely Chinese spy (newcomer Michelle Yeoh). Rated PG-13.

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Like countless boys from another generation, Clint Harper is fast becoming a devoted James Bond fan.

His dad, James, grew up watching Agent OO7 in "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball," and now Clint finds the same fascination in the latest, "Tomorrow Never Dies" starring Pierce Brosnan.

Bond "is so awesome," said the Brea 11-year-old. "The way he does things [and] wins against everybody is cool."

The signature Bond devices are all in place in "Tomorrow Never Dies." Beautiful girls parade about, and 007 has all sorts of futuristic gizmos to use against a villain who will do anything to rule the world.

It added up to a kicky two hours for Clint and his friend Henry Gutierrez, 12 and also of Brea. "So much [action] stuff happened," Clint said. "It was fun to watch."

"Yeah, [the bad guys] just couldn't beat him!" Henry added.

Clint has watched most of the Sean Connery Bond movies on video with his father. He enjoyed them, especially because he got to share the experience with his dad, whose favorite is "Thunderball."

But Clint thinks the newer versions are better, mainly because the special effects are more advanced. He was especially impressed with the opening scene, in which 007 steals a MIG fighter jet from terrorists, and a later passage in which explosion after explosion destroys the villain's attack ship.

Henry was excited when Bond and another spy jump from a skyscraper and avoid death by riding a giant banner on the building's facade down to the street.

"Super scary," Henry said.

The spy is played by Michelle Yeoh, a Hong Kong actress known for her martial arts skills. While Bond uses uppercuts and straight-ahead punches to drop his enemies, Yeoh employs jump kicks, roundhouse kicks, karate chops and all sorts of fast, clever maneuvers to cream everybody. Both Henry and Clint like kung fu movies, so Yeoh was a hit with them.

"She was tough," Henry said. "Really tough."

She also was a hit with Yorba Linda 13-year-old Alicia Nguyen. Alicia appreciated Yeoh's athleticism, but most of all she liked the way her character is pretty much Bond's equal, physically and mentally. Alicia thought girls could relate to her.

"I like her because she was so good at everything," which makes her a role model, Alicia said. Indeed, at times during "Tomorrow Never Dies," the lively Yeoh makes Brosnan's 007 look almost stodgy as he tries to keep up.

Alicia did have problems with the picture, however. Although parts were amusing, she found much of it repetitive. You can take only so much of things blowing up and people getting punched, she said.

"I think boys would like this better," Alicia offered.

The plot also threw her. She didn't understand how the villain (played by Jonathan Pryce) could control the world by controlling the news it receives and manipulating global events.

"How could he get [the major world powers] to do what he wanted by doing that?" Alicia wondered.

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PARENTS' PERSPECTIVE: James Harper, Clint's father, said "Tomorrow Never Dies" was decent family entertainment. He thought the movie was tame by current film standards and inappropriate only for very young children.

Harper noted that there's little harsh language and no nudity, although some of the women aren't wearing much. And while the action is vivid, it's not especially bloody.

"You can't get too upset with this one, only because it isn't real graphic," Harper said. "And it's not a bad [Bond] flick, even though it's not nearly as good as 'Thunderball' or 'Goldfinger.' "

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