CURRYBOND #8 Al Mirage + The Man with the Golden Gun

CURRYBOND is going big.
One third of the way through the CURRYBOND journey and we welcome a new host of the Bond leg. The Gorringe Park Pub. One of the best pubs in Tooting located next to Tooting station and about 10 mins walk from Tooting Broadway it's definitely worth the trip with fantastic gastro/pub grub on the menu and a number of local beers on offer, the atmosphere is always cosy and welcoming, but that's not the best part...they have a frickin' cinema downstairs! Every night showing a selection of classic films in the evening and kids classics on weekend afternoons. And now, the host of the CURRYBOND Bond leg! This is certainly a change to the established CURRYBOND agenda, I'm sure the CURRYBOND gods have forgiven us for that mis-hap in CURRYBOND #6…

 The Curry Leg
The anticipation of the new and improved Bond leg has clearly inspired the CURRYBONDers, we arrive at the agreed earlier kick off to not one but three CURRYBONDers raring to go! The Spring sunshine might have also had something to do with escaping the office on time! Looks like we're odds on for our first daylight curry finish.
Our venue for CURRYBOND #8 Al Mirage. Another excellent location at the heart of Tooting High Street, it also sits next door to the more established Mirch Masala of CURRYBOND #4, we'll see how it fares against it's local rival. The early start time doesn’t seem to favour the rest of the Tooting curry masses with unadulterated access to every table in the restaurant...The venue is split over two levels and we're treated to the most elaborate of vertical ascension options with both a spiral staircase and a lift! Now they just need enough patrons to make use of them…
Al Mirage gets a venue score of 4.7/10.

 A third of the way in, it seems we should evaluate the front runners for the most prestigious CURRYBOND award for Best Attendance. With a 100% record of 8 full CURRYBONDs is Jobbers, though hot on his heels comes Shethers at 7.5 CURRYBONDs but is the crown beginning to slip, the official start time comes and goes, it seems TFL has betrayed Jobbers...he makes it before the mains to maintain his 100% record but with imminent trips half way around the world will he hold on?
We promptly get ordering, a quick glance a the drinks menu disappoints some CURRYBONDers, no alcohol and no BYOB policy, it's our first "dry" curry, thankfully we'll be in a pub in a couple of hours...So it's mango lassies and soft drinks all round, fortunately the mango lassie is delicious, rich and creamy with plenty of tropical cheer. Next up come the starters, Popadoms (obviously), Samosas, Chicken Spring Rolls, Dahi Bhale and Onion Bhajis. They are pretty much all delicious, the Bhajis are a highlight with another entry in the crustacean style, this example is equally crispy, spicy and importantly freshly cooked.
Certainly a contender for best Bhaji, they get a score of 9/10.

The Dahi Bhale, is a curiosity. Ordered by Gills always keen to try new things her face was one of trepidation when what looks like an ice cream sundae arrives at the table. Fortunately it is a savoury affair, consisting predominantly of yoghurt with a dumplingy thing  with some kind of tamarind sauce. The consensus is interesting, but once is enough.

Jobbers makes his entrance just in time to order the obligatory Chicken Jalfrezi, this was accompanied by Lamb Peshwari Gosht, Lamb Bhuna, Butter Chicken, Tikka Lamb Chops and the standard Chicken Tikka Masala. Sides of pilau rice, garlic naan and our second CURRYBOND cheese naan, which is clearly the highlight for one NE based CURRYBONDer...The mains all look good, sizeable portions, vibrant colours and fragrant aromas. The Peshwari Gosht is spicy and moorish with tender chunks of lamb. The CTM has juicy chicken pieces and is certainly tasty but not the best reference CTM we've had. Overall there are positive murmurings all around the table. The consensus is, delicious, the scores are high.
Al Mirage gets a food score of 8.1/10.

 So with Roger Moore calling we ask for the bill which comes in at £78.60 that’s just £9.83/CURRYBONDer breaking the £10 barrier is impressive.

Al Mirage gets a Value score of 8.1/10
So with only the venues lack of patrons and a no alcohol policy holding it back Al Mirage is an unexpected contender for best Curry, it's neighbours should take note.
Al Mirage gets an Overall score of 7.7/10.

The Bond Leg
Eager to embrace our new Bond leg venue we hop it sharpish down Mitcham Road to The Gorringe and we are welcomed by the Screen Listings board confirming Live and Let Die, 9pm. Inside we are welcomed by the Gorringe staff where we line up the pre-Bond drinks, this certainly beats moving the furniture round and Martinis in plastic cups!

We make our way downstairs to our new digs. The cinema room is spacious, cosy and with a perfectly proportioned projection screen. There are actual cinema seats, comfy armchairs and retro furniture. It's perfect, almost too good to be true… Our helpful pub manager Paul loads up the disc...somewhere in the sacred halls of CURRYBOND Valhalla the gods shift uneasily on their Karahi thrones...they don’t like change, we know this...their wrath strikes down the Blu-ray player...Live and Let Die was gone…
Fortunately Paul had a plan B and emerged with a copy of The Man with the Golden Gun! Take that CURRYBOND Gods, we just went atheist! So minor trauma averted we'll come back to Roger's debut and get stuck into Men and Golden Guns n that.

So to our first introduction to Roger Moore, the man with the best acting eyebrows in Hollywood. But it's not Sir Rog that kicks things off it's his latest nemesis and our villain for the evening Scaramanga! Possibly the greatest named villain of all time, I just want to say it over and over Scara-manga, amazing. Scaramanga played by none other than the future Saruman, Count Dooku and Dracula, King of the bad guys, Sir Christopher Lee. That's right it's a full on Knight of the Realm face off! 

He's hanging out with his trusty pal, Nick-Nack. Who is...a small person, a dwarf...Bond plumps for midget. The film doesn't shy away from reminding you about Mr. Nack's diminutive stature firmly adopting the comedy midget role which is slightly uncomfortable but alongside the continued violence to women and casual racism it's not alone amongst the classic Bond offences. But hey it's the 70, plus he wears a snazzy waistcoat.

In this new Bond era it seems the screen writers have decided that a Bond film should not only have a plot, but the film will tell you what it is before the last five minutes. So Bond turns up to greet the indefatigably grumpy M for his latest brief. Simple, Scaramanga is a bad guy, he wants to kill Bond, therefore Bond must kill him. Sorted. It also seems like the events of the day have once again bled into the Bond universe. It's 1974, and the people who take oil out of the ground and sell it to people who burn it in their cars decided to stop taking it out the ground. Creating a global financial and energy crisis and the largest expansion of technological research and development outside of a World War...until they turned the oil back on. Oh well I'm sure that problem won't come up again...

Bond's contribution to the oil crisis has seen him tracking down some smart bloke with a super solar gadget that will solve the worlds energy problems...turns out it's just a concentrated solar collector, that whilst pretty efficient if you have a crap load of mirrors lying around in a desert, isn't going to revolutionise the energy industry...even 30 years later. But enough of the day job...

Back to the action, and we've got another trip to the Orient. This resulted in our highest rated Bond so far in You Only Live Twice so good news! We take a tour around Hong Kong, Macau and Bangkok. We meet sumo wrestlers, Thai kick boxers, a vast array of traditional outfits and a charming lady skinny dipping called Chu Mee...of course she is.

Bond decides to bust out his disguise skills and infiltrates the latest mega rich business man's compound masquerading as...Scaramanga! Fortunately no-ones ever seen Mr. Manga before so Bond's disguise consists of a linen suit and one distinguishing feature...a third nipple. Not quite sure what Q branch was experimenting with they came up with prosthetic stick on nipples but hey, seems to work, or does it...

That's right, as usual, Bond is one step behind the bad guys as the real Scaramanga emerges from the shadows revealing his dastardly partnership with rich Asian bloke, Hai Fat. Inevitably Bond is captured and inevitably bad guys decide that rather than shooting him in the head they'll send him off to some Thai spa to be soaped down by lovelies and then participate in the local martial arts knock around. Bond holds his own until the Cobra Kai send out their ringer, Bond legs it and we're set for some boat, car chasing action.

Unfortunately the chasing fun is mildly ruined by an appearance of Sgt Pepper, the recurring southern American hick cop who serves zero purpose other than remind you of the distain the film makers have for a certain type of American, he's just not funny. Fortunately once Bond finds a fast car he spots a suspiciously carefully angled broken bridge...One lift of an eyebrow and its pedal to the metal and full barrel roll across a frickin' river! That's a Bond stunt! 

However, we're not done. Just as Bond catches up with the bad guys they disappear into a shed, seems like a legit hiding place until, WTF. He's got a car plane! That's right, it seems Bad Guy Inc. is a step ahead of Q branch too as Scaramanga takes to the skies in the least aerodynamic flying machine since that paper aeroplane you tried to make out of crape paper in primary school.

Bond tracks down Scaramanga to a beautiful island in the South China Sea (probably) and it's confrontation time. But these are two knights of the realm, their not just going to have brawl on a beach, this calls for pistols at dawn! Bond seems well up for this ludicrously polite shootout, but Scaramanga does one and escapes to his fun house with Nick Nack behind the controls. A circus spooky house creepathon ensues  and ends up in a rather disappointing dénouement of Bond fooling the master assassin by standing really still and shooting him in the head...told you that was the way to go.

We were also updated on the plot, remember that? Turns out said magic solar power is also really good for making lasers! That's more like it...Unfortunately Bond is accompanied by his Bond girl MI6 sidekick Goodnight. Who has so far, smuggled away the magic solar machine then got into the boot of the bad guy's car who subsequently flew away with it, and her to his lair...good one. Well Goodnight, played by the lovely Britt Ekland is now wandering around in the mandatory skimpy bikini and attempts to help Bond retrieve the magic solar box until, uh oh, watch where you put your bum love...turns on the dastardly device and explosions, shouting, disaster everywhere...if only she wasn't one of those stupid women types...

Fortunately there's a man around, and he knows what to do. Queue escape on the bad guy's, what can only be described as, pirate ship for the obligatory last fight vs midget henchman followed by sex with co-worker.

So overall, this is a pretty fun Bond film. Great bad guy, even better bad guy name! Great action scenes with one amazing stunt, amusing if slightly offensive henchman, a tonne of one-liners and a plot you can follow. Thumbs up from the CURRYBONDers who score The Man with the Golden Gun:
Girls n Gadgets - 6.4/10
Cheese - 8.4/10
Action - 7.3/10
Overall - 7.6/10

Al Mirage + The Man with the Golden Gun gets an impressive 7.7/10, taking the lead in the overall CURRYBOND stakes.

CURRYBOND will return in the accursed Onam + Live and Let Die