I always dislike when I get to Octopussy on a Bond watch through, and given I remember that feeling despite this being only the third time I’ve watched them all in a row goes to show how much is sticks in my mind. It’s not terrible like Diamonds are Forever, but it commits possibly an even worse sin: It’s dull as hell… and full of poor Moore-era humour. Anyway, let’s get Octopussy out of the way so I can never watch it again… unless another new format ends up releasing a nice collectors set, then… bollocks.
While trying to escape from East to West Berlin, British agent 009 is fatally wounded and dies after reaching the residence of the British Ambassador, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and, after seeing the real egg appear at an auction in London, sends James Bond to investigate and find out the identity of the seller…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“My God, you really have made dinosaurs!” “I call it, Jurassic Park!”
James Bond (Roger Moore) – James Bond, 007, license to kill… is getting on a bit now, it has to be said. Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t travel the globe, shag whoever he wants, and shoot some people! Though you think it would, really…
Octopussy (Maud Adams) – Octopussy is the daughter of a former agent gone rogue who has made a career out of jewel smuggling, thanks in part to amassing an army of attractive women.
Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) – Kamal is an exiled Afghan Prince who is playing both the Soviets and Octopussy against each other for his own gain.
General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) – Soviet general who wishes to invade the rest of Europe, rather than hear these talks of peace and giving land back…
Magda (Kristina Wayborn) – Magda is a tall attractive woman who works for Octopussy and Khan.
Vijay (Vijay Amritraj) – Works for the Indian equivalent of MI6 and helps Bond with his mission.
Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) – Gobinda is a large Indian man who guards his master Kamal Khan at all times.
Mischka and Grischka (David and Anthony Meyer) – A pair of knife-throwing brothers who work for Kamal Khan… or Octopussy, as they’re in her circus… I’m not sure. Who cares?
Q (Desmond Llewelyn) – Q makes all the gadgets for Bond, and other agents (one assumes). He’s getting tired of Bond’s quips and destruction of his property, but a change of career is worse, I guess!
I think, THINK, this is supposed to be set in Soviet Russia. Don’t take my word for it, but I’m pretty sure.
With so much of the film being unremarkable or bad, it’s hard to think of anything flat out “good”. There are scenes towards the end on a train that has some good moments: Bond clinging to the side of it, a small three-way fight on the roof, that sort of thing. Also Bond defusing a nuke towards the end of the film was tense, though ruined slighting by him being dressed as a clown (literally, a clown) The actual final fight in on a small plane, including an actually good fight between 007 and the large Gobinda on the wings of the aircraft. That gets top marks as well, if you can hang on through the 2+ hours of mostly dull crap.
I actually didn’t mind Col. Orlov, who seems to be in a lot of people’s negative column for the film. Yeah, he’s over-acting to the extreme, but the script is so full of nonsense that I felt it fitted. In fact, get rid of Kamal Khan and just make this a Soviets vs. the world Bond movie and I’d have liked it much better. His crazy speech to his fellow Soviets about invading Europe, and his death trying to get onto train but being shot in the back by his own people were good. His last words of thinking in death he’d be a hero was good too, the best villains think they’re the hero of their own story, and all that. I also like how there is a Bond film set during the East-West divide, the spy genre was tailor made for it!
Yeah, this is what I think of when I think of James Bond…
Jeez, where to start? Well, the film is primarily set in India, which is good, a unique setting… sadly, that opened the floodgates for every possible Indian stereotype you can think of. Bond meets his Indian contact Vijay when he’s undercover as a snake charmer (who plays the Bond theme to get the agent’s attention, which is some flat out fourth wall breaking right there!), Bond eventually fights some thugs by using, in a row in a single scene, a bed of nails, hot coals on the floor (for the whole walking on hot coals bit), a sword from a sword swallower, and then escapes in a Tut Tut. Just to top it off, he escapes to where Q is, and the first thing the gadget maker is, well, making, is a automatic Indian Rope Trick… device? It’s just… not good. Oh and during the Tut Tut chase, Vijay uses a tennis racket to attack some foes, because he was played by a Tennis player the film makers happened to meet a while before filming. Throw in Bond paying someone and saying “that should keep you in curry for a while!” and we’ve… yeah, got some issues.
The whole Kamal Khan, fake Fabergé eggs thing is just boring. All the scenes in his castle are boring. Octopussy and he backstory (oddly from an unadapted Bond novel…) aren’t that much more interesting either. She has an island of beautiful women because… Bond on an island with beautiful women is funny. When Octopussy is betrayed by Khan and she retaliates by attacking his base we get scenes of circus performers making human pyramids to scale walls and acrobatic women in skin-tight outfits taking on armed guards, topped off with Bond joining the fray via a Union Jack hot air balloon for some reason. It just too much nonsense. The film doesn’t even end there, either! The aforementioned good plane bit takes place afterwards, which then mercifully ends the film with a flat scene involving Bond and Octopussy in bed.
When Bond escapes Kamal Khan’s base, he is chased into the jungle by the evil group, complete with telling a joke out loud to himself when a snake crawls on him while he’s trying to silently stay unnoticed (“Hiss off!”), telling a wild tiger to “siiiit”, which somehow works, and the infamous swinging from vine-to-vine complete with Tarzan call, again alerting everyone to where he is, for some reason. It’s hard to choose between this scene and the aforementioned scene in the marketplace as to which was more groaningly full of failed humour and cultural references.
We open with what turns out to be 009 getting killed by the bland but inoffensive knife throwing twin henchmen Mischka and Grischka, but the problem is the fact that 009 is dressed as a clown, complete with balloons that pop and give away his position (damn, and I thought Bond was a crap spy…) so the scene just comes off as surreal and a bit shit. Start as you mean to go on, I guess! Actually, I should say we open with a sequence of Bond going undercover in some random base with a comedy moustache and eventually escaping in a mini-plane that was hidden behind a horse’s arse, but that’s just the pre-credits, rather than the opening to this story. It was also shit.
Oh and near the middle Octopussy and Bond are attacked by a group of hired men, one of which uses a buzzsaw hooked up like a yo-yo as a weapon, for some reason. While this was quite a good fight scene, it was ruined a bit by the comic weapon. Bond getting to and later escaping from Octopussy’s island in a motorised crocodile was crap as well… Oh and he hides in a gorilla suits for a while. That also happens…
Man, the more I wrote about this film the more I realised it’s not just dull, it’s properly bad as well. While I still think the completely bored Connery and the pair of awful henchmen (among many other things) makes Diamonds are Forever worse, this is definitely second place, and deserves a 1 just as much as that did. The very worst Moore, and one to avoid unless you have to watch every single film, like myself, sadly…