After the success of ‘Dr. No’, one year later in 1963 a sequel would be released by the name of ‘From Russia With Love’ with the same director Terrence Young and screenwriter Richard Maibaum at the helm. The producers would bring back the entire production team from ‘Dr. No’ and they recreate the magic from the original. At the box office, ‘From Russia With Love’ grossed a total of $78 million dollars worldwide based off of a $2 million dollar budget.

The film is based on Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name and is very close to the source material except that SPECTRE has been added which weren’t a part of the original story. The story of ‘From Russia With Love’ revolves around SPECTRE manipulating the Soviet and British governments to get the Lektor decoding device. SPECTRE sits back as they puppeteer James Bond (Sean Connery) to do their dirty work without him even realizing it. While James Bond is uncovering the mystery of the Lektor, SPECTRE also decides to send their killing machine “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) to make sure that Bond is on the right path, but with the ultimate goal of killing Bond. SPECTRE is still bitter after Dr. No was dispatched by Bond.

Things aren’t swell for Bond as even more bait is used to make sure he carries out the plan that SPECTRE has secretly in place for him. Bond girl Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) plays a Russian clerk that is used by SPECTRE to foil out the remainder of their plan. Q also makes his first appearance in the Bond world with his first set of gadgets for 007. With the help of Q and the contact Karim Bay (Pedro Armendariz), SPECTRE might be fooling themselves into thinking that 007 will fall into their pitfall.

‘From Russia With Love’ has to be one of my favorite bond films of the Connery era. What makes this film a rather enjoyable experience is that Bond and Bay are on the run from the beginning of the film and things get even better on the train as they are trying to smuggle the Lektor out of the country. Shaw is a perfect match to stand toe to toe with Connery as Bond and things come to a head for both men on the train. This film would be the blue print for many of the Bond films that would follow after ‘From Russia With Love’.

Print/Audio Quality
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The last Bond sets on DVD used the Lowry Digital restoration which really did a nice job at bringing those films to full restoration on the DVD format in terms of video and audio. Now in 2008, Lowry Digital does the unthinkable on a BD-50. Details are very good with this print as everything is very clear. Then there are a few scenes where the film loses some detail as the camera pans away providing a blurred image. Colors are sharp and very rich. Black levels are also very strong, except a few night scenes were a bit too dark.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless mix. The sound effects and soundtrack is rather front heavy like the other Connery Bond Blu-ray films, but you do still get sound effects from the rears. Dialogue is well balanced and is very clear, with great dynamic range. Not once did I have to increase the volume, I hope that some engineers take note.

Special Features
All of the Ultimate Edition DVD features have been ported over to the Blu-ray version of ‘From Russia With Love’. Yet again we have a mixture of HD and SD-DVD features on this disc.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Terence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew
  • Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview
  • Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler Featurette
  • Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs
  • Animated Storyboard Sequence
  • Credits
  • 007 Mission Control
  • Inside “From Russia With Love
  • Harry Saltzman
  • Theatrical Archive
  • TV Broadcasts
  • Radio Communication
  • Image Database
  • “Quantum of Solace” Movie Cash

I highly recommend purchasing ‘From Russia With Love’ on Blu-ray, especially if you do not own any previous versions of the film on DVD. With all the special features ported over to the Blu-ray version and the addition of excellent audio and video quality, this is the version of the film to own.

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