Whoosh! Issue 23 - August 1998

JAMES BOND AND WAI LIN AND XENA AND GABRIELLE
IAXS project #525
By Benita Clarke
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1720 words



Introduction (01-03)
Tomorrow Never Dies (04-07)
Bond and Wai Lin: The Relationship (08-09)
Tomorrow and the Xenaverse: Commonalties (10-12)
Happy Endings (13-16)
Biography



James Bond And Wai Lin And Xena And Gabrielle



Although the only one in the poster without a gun, Teri Hatcher
is not unarmed


If James Bond is Xena, and Wai Lin is Gabrielle, does that make the Teri Hatcher character Joxer?



Introduction

[1] At first glance, it seems that a James Bond movie like Tomorrow Never Dies (Roger Spottiswoode, 1997) and the series Xena: Warrior Princess have very little, if anything, in common. After all, Xena and Gabrielle are both strong women who, week after week, battle gods, goddesses, evil warlords, hordes of barbarians, giants and other seemingly insurmountable foes to champion the underdog, and to save the world in the process. Meanwhile, in the course of their adventures, they have developed a strong, deep, lasting friendship that has grown and deepened.

[2] In the James Bond movie series, James Bond, 007, is a spy, who, installment after installment, battles evil, megalomaniacal, powerful persons whose goal is to rule the world. He also champions the underdog, and saves the world in the process. He too develops relationships with his sidekicks, but, unlike the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, Bond's are usually flings and not very enduring. The women in Bond movies are usually portrayed as objects, and generally, his female companions have very little or nothing to do with the success of James Bond's escapades.

[3] Tomorrow Never Dies provides a refreshing departure from the typical Bond offering with a female sidekick who is not just a bed partner for our intrepid 007. In fact, Wai Lin is a strong female character, like Xena and Gabrielle. The purpose of this paper is to explore the character of Wai Lin vis a vis her strength, resourcefulness, and most importantly, her helpfulness to and support of James Bond. I will also compare and contrast the relationship between the two pairings of heroine/hero and sidekick.


Tomorrow Never Dies

[4] In the latest installment of the James Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan, confronts Elliot Carver, an evil media baron, played by Jonathan Pryce, who wants to take over the world by starting a war to create headlines for his worldwide news channel. Carver is a multi-media superpower who owns newspapers and TV stations worldwide. He also just happens to own a humongous stealth warship, which is invisible to radar. Carver's hobby is to create headlines in advance, and cause the events he creates headlines for to actually happen.

[5] The first part of his wickedly brilliant plot is:

  1. to use his satellites to cause a British warship to go off course in Chinese waters;
  2. to use his own Stealth warship, with this scary looking drill thingie, to sink the British ship; and
  3. to steal one of its nuclear warheads and fire this warhead at China.
Therefore, China will think it is under attack from the West and act accordingly.

[6] The second part of Carver's plan involves the British sailors who abandon the ship. Carver's head henchman, Stamper (played by Gotz Otto, an Aryan-looking guy with a bleached blond buzz cut), somehow gets some Chinese machine guns and massacres the soldiers as they are floating in their life preservers while awaiting rescue. Now Carver can launch his headlines, sit back, and await World War III. He can also blackmail China into giving him exclusive cable rights for the next 100 years.

[7] Enter James Bond and Wai Lin. James is undercover as an investment banker. Wai Lin, played by Michelle Yeoh, who works for the "Chinese External Security Force", is undercover as a reporter. Bond and Wai Lin separately investigate, and Carver's goons catch both. They are handcuffed together, and the adventures begin.


Bond and Wai Lin: The Relationship

I was Lao Ma in a former life


Unlike Gabrielle, Wai Lin's costume is a bit more functional.


[8] The development of the relationship between James Bond and Wai Lin is like a condensed version of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship. Like Xena, James Bond has a past with which the viewer is familiar, and which helps the audience relate to him. As he goes about his business of saving the world, he acquires a sidekick, who at first is an annoyance, but grows on him, like Gabrielle has grown on Xena.

[9] In the first part of their adventure, James Bond and Wai Lin

  1. are handcuffed together;
  2. manage to fall off a building without getting smashed to smithereens;
  3. find a motorcycle; and,
  4. while still handcuffed together, race through the streets of Saigon upsetting fruit carts, narrowly avoiding running over pedestrians, and escaping a helicopter that is flying close to the ground and firing machine guns at them.
After escaping, and destroying the helicopter in the process, Wai Lin tries to ditch Bond in order to go about investigating on her own. Of course, she cannot get rid of him, so they work together to try to bring down Carver's evil forces.


Tomorrow and the Xenaverse: Commonalities

[10] Do any of these plot devices sound familiar? To any member of the Xenaverse, they should. In Xena, we have Ares and the other gods, who, for their own reasons, try to control mortals and wreak havoc in the world. Ares always wants a war. He is, after all, the god of war. He uses his supernatural abilities to dominate mortals. He also has flunkies who he empowers just enough to do his dirty work. Elliot Carver uses his high tech gadgets in much the same way that Ares uses his status as a god to achieve the same goal, that of taking over the world.

[11] Xena, who also has a past well known to the viewers, is a strong female figure, who can battle whole armies, defeat them, and escape virtually unscathed. Gabrielle, as her sidekick, provides moral support. Xena uses an arsenal of weapons and "many skills" in her quest to champion the underdog. Her chakram is probably the most obvious tool. She can do all kinds of tricks with it, and it always comes back to her. She is also handy with her sword, and her ability to cut off the blood flow to people's brains is yet another way Xena keeps unruly barbarians under control. Gabrielle's weapon of choice is her staff, although she tends to only use it as a last resort. Her skills with the staff have developed so that she can support Xena in battle.

[12] Wai Lin has fighting skills and tools that rival Xena's. As a martial arts expert, Wai Lin uses a lot of Xena-like moves with kickboxing, flips, and she takes on several gigantic, evil men at once. Her earrings can double as weapons in a pinch, and she has an arsenal of computer equipment to track the enemy's movements. James Bond's fighting skills are well honed, and he has weapons to help in his quest to defeat the forces of evil. His cell phone can identify fingerprints, pick locks, and double as a stun gun, while his BMW has a tear-gas system, a high-security safe in the glove department, metal spikes that deploy from the rear, and tires that automatically re-inflate when they blow out. She and James Bond, fighting against Carver's thugs, look a lot like Xena and Gabrielle fighting off swarms of barbarian invaders. Wai Lin and James Bond usually prevail, even when they are severely out-numbered and have fewer weapons than the bad guys. Similarly, Xena and Gabrielle usually emerge victorious from their tussles with angry gods, ruthless barbarians and evil warlords.


Happy Endings

Oh, that *is* a gun in your pocket!


James Bond and Wai Lin are allowed to consummate their relationship at the end of the film.


[13] At the end, Bond and Wai Lin kiss and float off into the sunset. They only acknowledge their romantic attraction after saving the world, however. Xena and Gabrielle usually end each episode on a peaceful note, thus implying the lasting nature of their relationship. Whether or not it is romantic, I will leave for each reader to decide.

[14] In conclusion, there are many parallels between Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, and that of James Bond and Wai Lin. Both pairs fight against extremely powerful adversaries, and, against the odds, prevail, saving the world in the process. Both pairs have extraordinary fighting skills, and both pairs are capable of out-plotting and out-maneuvering the bad guys. Both pairs have props they like to use to augment their fighting skills. Xena uses her chakram and her sword, Gabrielle her staff. James Bond uses his high tech gadgets, while Wai Lin has her handy, multi-purpose secret weapon earrings. Both pairs start out with one partner wanting to come along and the other resisting at first. For example, Gabrielle wants to follow Xena from Poteidaia and at first Xena does not want a sidekick, but later grows to like the idea. Wai Lin and Bond both want to get rid of the other, but find that, together, they make a good team.

[15] The best parallels, though, have to do with Michelle Yeoh's portrayal of Wai Lin. Like Lucy Lawless in her portrayal of Xena, you can see a lot of the tongue in cheek facial expressions in Ms. Yeoh's work. The most striking similarity is the fighting style of the two characters. They both use martial arts moves and gymnastic style flair to kick bigger and stronger men's b*tts.

[16] On a deeper level, perhaps Xena: Warrior Princess has influenced action/adventure type movies by showing that female characters can be attractive, yet strong and able to save the world too!



Biography

Benita Clarke Benita Clarke
Benita Clarke grew up in North Carolina and lives in Kentucky, where she works at a university library and is writing her dissertation to complete her doctorate in Spanish. She is still a Xena fan, although she admits that she found a lot of the third season episodes somewhat depressing.
Favorite episode: A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215)
Favorite line: Minya to Xena, while brandishing a whip: "You're not the only tough broad around here, ya know!" A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215); Beth Hymson, casting director: "A hard man is good to find", YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A HERCULES (H74/415). Okay, this line is from Hercules, but since the shows are related, I could not resist!
First episode seen: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124)
Least favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)

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