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'Octopussy' is the film of the moment in August's MI6 Bondathon

05-Aug-2010 • Site News

To celebrate the spate of upcoming Bond film anniversaries and the pave the way to Bond 23, we thought it was high-time the forum (Keeping The British End Up) pulled together for an official review of the whole series.

A film will be presented each month for viewing, discussion and review; running in conjunction with the main site, overall ratings and a selection of the best reviews will be published at the end of the month on mi6-hq.com.

James Bond must save Eastern Europe from a nuclear holocaust in August's Bondathon...


"And he's wearing a red shirt"

But that's not all we get to see James Bond wear in the thirteenth James Bond film from EON productions. Would 13 prove to be superstitious for James Bond to?

Before production began, Roger Moore claimed he was not coming back. And this time it appeared he wouldn't. Screen testing other actors commenced, and it looked very much like we would get an American actor to play Bond for the first time. James Brolin did extensive screen testing, and was a front runner to take over from Moore.
But negotiations with Moore continued, and a deal was struck seeing him strap on the shoulder holster for a sixth outing.

There was also the issue of a rival Bond movie. This had only happened once before, back in 1967 when You Only Live Twice had to compete with Casino Royale starring Peter Sellers. Though the latter proved to be nothing of a real threat to the Bond series. This time however original EON Bond Sean Connery would be returning to the role after a 12 year absence, to appear in Kevin McClory's oft rumoured remake of Thunderball, titled Never Say Never Again.

It was the battle of the Bonds as the British press hailed it. One thing I believe benefited both films was to release them at different times. Octopussy went for a summer release, whereas Never Say Never Again took the autumn / fall period. Though Octopussy would be the biggest earner of the two. Something I'm sure pleased EON.

Octopussy is again directed by For Your Eyes Only director John Glen, who keeps a certain level of drama and seriousness found in the former film, whilst bringing back more of the slapstick and comedy found in the likes of Moonraker.

As an audience were taken on a real globe trotting roller coaster of an adventure in this film.

From the get go, Octopussy is packed full of typical Bond style action. The pace is fast, and for the most part serious. I said for the most part. There are times when the slapstick humour pops its head up. And unfortunately it must be said, maybe a little to often.

The pre titles find Bond in an unnamed South American country, where he's sent to destroy a secret military plane. But ends up getting caught, escaping and using the worlds smallest jet to finish his mission. The scene is exciting and fun. It works wonderfully as a mini movie we've come to enjoy from the Bond series.

The mission in Octopussy, though a little complicated at times, is a good one. There is a real threat, and Bond races around the world to stop it.
A renegade Russian General Orlov is stealing priceless artifacts from the Kremlin repository, and having replacements made to hide his crime. Meanwhile his accomplices in the west, exiled Afghan Prince Kamal Khan and the mysterious Octopussy use her traveling circus to bring the stolen jewels across the border to the west, where they will sell the jewellery for huge profits.

Though Orlov and Khan have an even more sinister objective. They plan to hide an atomic bomb inside the traveling circus as the perform at an American air force base in Karl Marx Stadt. The nuclear disaster will be deemed an accident, resulting in the unilateral disarmament of Nato, leaving the borders under defended for the Russian's to invade. Orlov even explains this plan to Russian security council, but his idea is rebuked, and he's told the role of the Russian military is strictly a defencive one.

Of course when you're mad, this has little effect on your objective.
Bond moves from the auction houses of London, where the stolen Kremlin jewels are being sold in a scene straight out of Fleming, and wonderfully played by Moore. Then onto the main location of India. Here Bond quickly makes a nuisance of himself for Kamal Khan, in yet another great scene, this time at the back gammon tables. Here we learn Khan cheats using loaded dice. Bond cheats the cheat in true Bondian style. But of course angers Khan who orders his men to take care of OO7.

After a silly chase through the streets of India using Bond aide played by tennis star Vijay Amritraj using a tennis racquet to battle the bad guys as onlookers look left and right at the action as it passes. This might be amusing if your ten, but for most it's just tedious.

As per usual Bond is captured,learns of Orlov and Khans involvement and of a meeting in Karl Marx Stadt, escapes and befriends this mysterious character, the title character Octopussy.

Once again the back story of Octopussy's character is taken from Fleming's work of the same name. Though all within a single line of dialogue. Bond and Octopussy form an alliance, untill Khan sends a group of bad guys to make another attempt on Bonds life. Again Bond escapes.
From here, we travel to eastern Germany as Bond learns the true extent of Orlovs scheme. Bond confronts Orlov as the bomb is loaded onto the train, but is unable to stop the General sounding the alarm of Bonds presence. As Bond and Orlov each chase down the already in motion train. Bond makes it aboard using a car driving along the tracks. Orlov is not so lucky. KGB head, General Gogol has been suspicious of the dangerous General Orlov and has tracked him down. Orlov is shot at the east/ west border, as he tries to get to the circus train. From here on it's a race against time as the detonator is set aboard Octopussy's Circus train. Fighting off Khans henchmen on top, on the side, and underneath the speeding train. It's an excellent set piece as OO7 desperately tries to avoid the atomic bomb going off, and though there is still humour and silliness. Genuine tension is built, almost to the point of despair.

Bond does reach the circus in time and does defuse the bomb. Of course, but director Glen takes the ticking bomb all the way down to zero.
The scene in which this happens finds Bond using a clown costume to gain entry to the performance. It's an oft debated scene amongst Bond fans as to whether it's fitting for Bond to dress as a clown, or whether it fits the scene. I for one am in belief that it works. Circus...clown.

The climax finds us back in India where Kamal Khan is about to flee. Octopussy and her troupe of gymnasts are amounting an attack on Khans palace at the same time that Bond and Q show up in an not so subtle Union flag emblazoned hot air balloon.

Khan and his henchman kidnap Octopussy and are about to make an escape via plane as Bond chases on horseback. Jumping from the horse onto the tail of the taxing plane. Bond clings onto the plane in flight, this time on the outside of the aircraft!

Realising Bond is hanging onto the aircraft, Khan orders his henchman Gobinda to once and for all rid him of OO7. A brief tussle ensues, which results in yet another henchman being dropped from a great height, and the sound editor pulling the old faithful 'Whilhelm scream' out of the archives.

Bond disables the in flight plane, grabs Octopussy and dives out as it attempts to land. The plane shoots over a cliff, and the out of control craft crashes into the rocks below, with the helpless Khan at the controls.
M and General Gogol pat each other on the back, after once again Bond has saved the world, as Bond and Octopussy sail off into the sunset.
It's no secret that this is my favourite Bond film. With an nickname like 'Octobenny' it's fairly obvious. I can understand it doesn't appeal to all, but I do feel it has something for all Bond fans. For the most part the film does play it seriously, with minor bumps as Bond goes for humour over drama. Though there are plenty of dramatic moments. The race to stop the bomb being the main one. Roger Moore also plays Bond very much as he did in FYEO with a more serious edge than we see in some of his outings. Though Moore can't be serious all the way through.

The cast is one of the better ones for a Bond film, and the bringing back of Maud Adams works fine. Many fans would recall her role in TMWTGG, but we can overlook the fact that she dies in the former film. The villains are all suitably evil, Orlov and Khan are a mixed bag, but both wonderful characters.

I'm often stuck as to why this films appeals to me. Not only was it the first Bond film I saw, but it was one of my first trips to the cinema. Here was this man that went to exotic far away places. Who could do whatever he wants and always won. But the pace of Octopussy is full on. You hardly get a chance to catch your breath, before the next action piece is amazing us. After watching all the other films over the years many, many times. I always go back to Octopussy. For me, it's when Bond reached his all time high.

- Introduction by Benny

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