directed by John Glen
(United Artists/MGM, 1983)

It begins with the death of a clown.

Octopussy is another solid entry in the field of James Bond movies starring Roger Moore. The plot revolving around counterfeit Faberge eggs isn't the strongest in the series, nor is the theory that one "accidential" nuclear explosion in central Europe would cause immediate nuclear disarmament across the continent. However, the film neatly pits two factions of the Soviet Union -- led by Walter Gotell as the returning General Gogol and Steven Berkoff as the plotting, scenery-chewing General Orlov -- against each other, with Bond caught in the middle.

Bond's mission takes him to India, where sequences are filmed with dazzling color and wit. One fast-paced chase scene makes clever use of nearly every East Indian stereotype and cliche you can think of, to good comedic effect. The scene in which a troupe of outraged circus performers storms a castle is a visual treat, as is the sight of Bond attempting to find and defuse a nuclear bomb while disguised as a big-footed, sad-faced clown.

There are several excellent scenes here, particularly the mini-plane sequence which starts the movie and the mid-air battle near the end. There are also a few goofs -- Bond as Tarzan comes immediately to mind.

Maud Adams, who was a tragic Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun, returns to the Bond mythos, this time as the title character, the mysterious Octopussy who leads a bands of beautiful female smugglers. Kristina Wayborn is excellent as her No. 1 henchwoman and part-time circus ring-leader. Meanwhile, Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) is the schemer working between Orlov and Octopussy, and his looming henchman Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) is a fine addition to the likes of Oddjob and Jaws. Tony and David Meyer make a pair of sinister twin knife-throwers.

Robert Brown makes his first appearance as the new M, but he fails to make up for the loss of Bernard Lee, who died just before the previous film, For Your Eyes Only. Desmond Llewelyn, as Q, usually is limited to trading barbs with 007 while delivering or explaining his latest lethal technological breakthrough, so it's nice to see him engage in some limited fieldwork for a change. Lois Maxwell continues as the ever-hopeful Miss Moneypenny, now with a younger, attractive assistant named Penelope Smallbone (Michaela Clavell).

Octopussy isn't as good as For Your Eyes Only or The Spy Who Loved Me, but it's certainly not the worst of the Moore years. (Moore starred only once more in the role before retiring his Walther PPK and passing the baton on to Timothy Dalton.) This was also the first time there were two Bond films released in a single year; Sean Connery returned as the spy in the bigger-budget Never Say Never Again.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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