For James Bond, another celebrated plateau was reached with Octopussy, the thirteenth globe-hopping feature spanning a glorious 21-year celluloid lifetime. Over 007ís landmark history, his film-makers have delivered a wealth of guns, gadgets, glamour, guffaws and girls. During these turbulent years, the world would witness numerous triumphs and tragedies, as well as many short-lived fads. One of the few pop-era icons to survive and thrive throughout these years was Agent 007. Bondís everlasting popularity was precisely the problem Eon faced in 1983, as they prepared to release Octopussy. Ironically, their rival was none other than Sean Connery, who shocked the industry by enlisting for one more assignment as James Bond in an oft-delayed remake Thunderball.
Titled Never Say Never Again, Conneryís non-Eon mission, after a 12-year hiatus, would be released in direct competition with Octopussy - a strategy which could threaten the box-office receipts of both films. However, Conneryís film was in trouble and the release date was postponed until the Autumn. The film scored with audiences, but it was Octopussy which easily won the box-office battle, with even Connery praising its fantastic action sequences.
Octopussy blasts off to an unforgettable start with a pre-credits sequence that director John Glen touted as boasting the most incredible stuntwork ever filmed. The scene has Bond using the Acrostar mini-jet to escape a heat seeking missile, and with destructive consequences for his enemies below. As one critic stated, Octopussy contains more action in the first five minutes than can be found in most feature length films.
Allegedly initial plans called for the character of Octopussy to be a vengeful villainess using her knowledge of 007ís tragic marriage to enlist his aid in annihilating SPECTRE. However, legal complications were still unresolved concerning the SPECTRE concept, and a plot was "hatched" centring on priceless Fabergé eggs and other jewelled treasures smuggled by a series businesswoman who has her own female army of spiritual followers. Their simple smuggling operation rapidly involves into something far more sinister, with dozens of lives and the safety of Western Europe dangling by a thread. Coupled with the traditional espionage-type intrigue, was a sub plot centring on a maverick Soviet general who plots to heat up the Cold War via detonating a nuclear device in Europe.
Maud Adams Is particularly alluring as the title character. When approach for the role, Maud felt there was a mistake as it was a long standing policy of Eon not to have actresses appear in major Bond roles more than once. Cubby Broccoli personally broke his own golden rule and cast her as the mysterious Octopussy. Maud happily accepted the part, but confessed it took some effort to say the film's title without blushing. Unfortunately, the background of the Octopussy character is explored only peripherally. It would have been more fascinating to have made her the central villain, instead of pawn in the grand scheme of Soviet General Orlov and world class smuggler Kamal Khan. Octopussy boasts an interesting cast.
A standout is Louis Jordanís portrayal of Kamal Khan, a man who truly exhalts in practising evil. Two distinguished Indian gentleman are well cast in Octopussy. The first is tennis pro Vijay Amritraj, ably assisting Bond in a high-speed taxi chase through an Udaipur market-place. Vijay drives a "company" taxi - a three-wheeled vehicle, built at Pinewood, with of 70 m.p.h. Amritraj is, however, the film's sacrificial lamb and his role is "cut short" by a razor bladed yo-yo! the second Indian actor to cast excellent effect is Kabir Bedi as Gobinda, Khanís Oddjob-like henchman. Bedi and Moore battle it out on top of Khanís jet during a heart stopping finale.
However, Virtually everyone praised Kristina Wayborn for her role as Octopussy henchwoman, Madga. Like Maud Adams, Wayborn is a native of Sweden, and her extraordinary looks and athletic abilities are used to maximum effect, including some of her own stuntwork. Also on the supporting front, real life twins David and Tony Meyer appear as murderous life force. In a haunting sequence, they stalk a doomed British agent through the under brush. Back at the British intelligence HQ, Robert Brown is promoted to the role of "M", succeeding the late Bernard Lee. Lois Maxwell adds her usual charm as Moneypenny. Desmond Llewelynís "Q", joins Bond in the fray of battle, delivering 007 to the battlefield by the way of hot air balloon - complete with Union Jack.
Octopussy is majestic in its spectacular entertainment value. Particularly
impressive are the production values which surpass even Bondian expectations,
and where else, but in a Bond film, would India be represented as a paradise?
The film's multitude of show stopping clematis leave the audience almost breathless.
Blending realistic intrigue with traditional Bond fancy, occupancy was a sure-fire
box-office smash. Critics also loaded it as outstanding entertainment with one
reviewer aptly noting: "What would a summer be...without James Bond?"