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Film Title

Octopussy

Director

John Glen

Starring

  • Roger Moore as James Bond
  • Maud Adams as Octopussy
  • Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan
  • Kristina Wayborn as Magda
  • Kabir Bedi as Gobinda
  • Steven Berkoff as General Orlov
  • Vijay Amritraj as Vijay
  • Robert Brown as M
  • Desmond Llewelyn as Q
  • Walter Gotell as General Gogol
  • Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny

It may be something of a conundrum within the Bond community on the opinions of Octopussy, some see it as an effective spy yarn, others see it as too outrageous and too confusing. But for me, I fall into the former category and consider Octopussy a really excellent entry into the series, full of exotic locales and interesting characters. It may be a little convoluted and silly at times, but there is more than enough enjoyment to be had with Octopussy.

Octopussy PosterWhen British agent 009 turns up dead at the British Embassy in Berlin, dressed as a clown and clutching a fake Fabergé egg, MI6 begin to investigate. Bond is assigned with finding the seller of the fake egg and comes across Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince who bids for the real egg at auction. Following him to India, Bond investigates Khan and his association with Russian General Orlov, with the help of fellow agent Vijay. Kamal KhanKhan and Orlov have been forging valuable jewels and replacing them with replicas, allowing them to smuggle them into various countries. Orlov is power-crazed and wants the Soviet Union to take back more control over the West, which alarms KGB chief and sometimes helper to the British General Gogol. Collaborating with the two in the diamond smuggling is the mysterious Octopussy, a fabulously wealthy woman who lives in a highly guarded palace on the river, guarded by athletic and dangerous women . Meeting Octopussy, Bond sees that her circus business is being used as the front for the scam. Yet Octopussy is unaware of the more sinister motives of Orlov and Khan and just thinks that they are just smuggling priceless jewels across the border. Orlov plans to detonate a bomb at an American military base in West Germany. He believes that this will cause the US to pull out of Germany and leave it open to Soviet invasion, fulfilling his maniacal scheme. Coming up against Khan’s henchman Gobinda, the lithe Magda and the various foes that stand in his way, Bond teams with Octopussy to stop the nefarious scheme before it is too late and bring down Khan and Orlov in the process.

The first thing to praise in Octopussy is the visuals which are beyond stunning. India, with its colourful saris, opulent palaces and exotic mystique makes for a perfect location for a Bond movie. The production design, especially in Octopussy’s palace is breathtaking to say the least and is done to the highest golden standard there is. John Glen directs with a fun and adventurous quality, that also gives the series its fair share of suspense. Nowhere is this more apparent that in the opening when 009 is chased by knife-wielding twins to his eventual death. Yet in comparison to the subdued and grounded For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy has more of an excitement and fantastical quality to it, which always adds to my personal enjoyment of it. The plot, while very interesting, can become a little complex for its own good, but with stunning action and surroundings, you may hardly notice. Octopussy BondStandout action scenes are Bond being pursued as the prey in a safari, a tense train fight and a chase through the marketplace on tuk tuks. While the humour is kept to some excellent one-liners, some over the top moments do seep into Octopussy, (need I mention Bond swinging from the vines in the jungle a la Tarzan?) John Barry triumphantly returns for musical duties with a sweepingly romantic score, peppered with exotic strings and drifting flutes. Rita Coolidge sings the main song, entitled ‘All Time High’ with conviction and makes it one of the more romantic of the Bond theme songs.

Roger Moore is still as charming as ever as 007, perfectly balancing humour with the necessary action that is thrown in his way in this tangled web of intrigue. Maud Adams, returning to Bond after her role in The Man With the Golden Gun, makes for a formidable and independent Bond girl. OctopussyAdams plays the eponymous character as an intelligent businesswoman, who knows her own mind and what she wants. Adams has excellent chemistry with Moore and they really do make a great couple as Bond and Octopussy realize that they are ‘two of a kind’. The late Louis Jourdan exudes suave charisma and villainous glee as Kamal Khan, who is skilled in the art of double-crossing those around him. Khan is such a slimy villain and Jourdan plays him with charm and oily slyness to the hilt. I would like to say here rest in peace Louis Jourdan, you will be certainly be missed. Kristina Wayborn shows off athletic prowess and stunning sexuality as Magda, a member of Octopussy’s women who acts as the linchpin between Khan and Octopussy. Kabir Bedi is intimidating and frightening as the loyal henchman Gobinda, while Steven Berkoff clearly relishes the theatrical role as the unhinged General Orlov. Tennis pro Vijay Amritraj makes for a likable ally to Bond in this exotic adventure. We have a new M in the form of Robert Brown, who while never going to rival the impression left by Bernard Lee, is suitable for the role of the gruff boss of Bond. Desmond Llewelyn supplies Q with an eye-rolling and confounded humour as Bond wrecks more of his effective gadgets in the line of duty. Walter Gotell returns as General Gogol, who this time is worried about Orlov’s delusions of the future. Unfortunately Lois Maxwell isn’t given enough to do this time around as secretary Moneypenny.

Apart from the sometimes long-winded plot and dips into silliness, Octopussy stands as an exciting and enthralling Bond movie.

 

 

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