What a glorious year 1983 promised to be! I still recall the 'pistols-drawn' images of Moore and Connery side-by-side on a Starlog magazine cover, promising an epic (this is one of the few times that word ("epic") has been used appropriately in the last decade!) battle between the Bonds. As a 14 year old - I couldn't wait! Then, Never Say Never Again was released and I came to the conclusion that there was only "one Bond" for the 1980's - Roger Moore.
When the powers-that-be hit the 'reset' button after the over-the-top Moonraker and gave us a no-frills/no-gadgets/action-packed For Your Eyes Only, the pendulum swung back into the balance of the "Goldfinger" territory with Octopussy. Yes, it has its low-point "moments", but all-in-all, it (IMO) achieves a great balance between (a) audience (not necessarily Fleming's 007 fans) expectations and ( gadgets vs. pure grit,
Octopussy hits on all cylinders as a solid 007 film - the villains' plan are world-shaking without being the over-the-top "I want to rule the world"; there's an initial "take the measure of the man" initial confrontation between 007 and the villain at a gaming table (shades of Goldfinger or Thunderball); a villain's larger-than-life henchman (Gobinda and, to some degree the knife-throwing twins), a sacrificial lamb/ally (ala Kermin Bey) in the form of Vijay; a mid-film 'twist' on who's good vs. bad (Octopussy herself); and a solid climactic action scene. Also, it has (relatively) realistic villains - an insane Soviet General and Kamal Kahn (whatever the heck he was - After all these years, I'm still not sure! Wikipedia says he was an "exiled Afghan prince, but whatever the case may be, 'way to go' on capitalizing on the "Khan" name after the previous year's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan!)
As for Bond in the clown outfit - that scene, with him valiantly attempting to muscle his way past the Germany-stationed U.S. soldiers in desperately effort in trying to defuse the bomb that will not only kill him and all of his assailants, but also trigger WWIII! - was a highlight in the 007 series in regards to a tense scene (let's face it - walking into the theater, we known 007 will 'win the day' and anytime we feel (even for a second or two) that might not happen is a 'golden moment' of a rare treat!), Also, "Kudos" to Roger Moore and his acting talents in that scene. Despite wearing a comical clown outfit, he does a excellent job in evoking the aforementioned tension. Next time you watch this movie, pay close attention to Roger Moore's facial expressions, etc.
Is Octopussy on the same level as the 'serious toned' Casino Royale or Skyfall? Is it among the 'classics' as Goldfinger? Certainly not on either account. But for it to be compared to any era beyond the one it falls into (anymore than From Russia With Love should be compared to Casino or Skyfall or vice versa) would be a travesty of injustice. Octopussy should ONLY be rated against its chronological contemporaries (specifically - For Your Eyes Only, Never Say Never Again, and A View To A Kill), and as such (again, IMO) finds itself comfortably among the top of the pack.