Bullet Points: Remo Williams
in this installment of Bullet Points I take a look at one of my all-time favorite movies, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins…
The film was an adaptation from The Destroyer series of paperback novels (Written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir). There are dozens of Destroyer books, giving any studio a wealth of source material to create movies from, and now doubt with the subtitle “The Adventure Begins…”, Orion was hoping that Remo Williams would be an ongoing series not unlike James Bond.
Upon its release in 1985, the film didn’t not perform as strongly at the box office as the studio would have liked and any chance of a sequel seemed unlikely.
A TV pilot was shot, but the bad luck for Remo continued. The night the pilot was set to air, then President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation. ABC then made the decision to join the Remo pilot in progress instead of pushing back the entire evening’s schedule. Only the last 15 minutes of the Remo pilot were actually seen that night.
Remo Williams was one of those forgotten movies for me, that is until THIS TV aired it in the summer of 2011 and I fell in love. It wasn’t long until I started reading some of The Destroyer novels and wondering why nobody had tried to reboot the film or give it another chance as a TV series on a cable network.
But before we start talking reboots and remakes, let’s take a look at the original…
- Backstory: A New Jersey cop is selected by a secret government organization known as CURE, they fake his death and give him a new identity. CURE steps in when the legal system doesn’t work and they answer to only one man… the President of the United States. CURE consists of Harold W. Smith (played by Wilford Brimley) he’s in charge of CURE and has a computer that can do things in 1985 that computers can’t do in 2014. Then there’s MacLeary (a/k/a Mac) the man who recruited Remo. And then there’s Remo Williams himself, selected because he was an ex-Marine, a highly decorated police officer and a man without a family. The perfect for the covert operations required.
- Enter the Chiun: The man responsible for training CURE agents in the art of Sinanju is Chiun. Chiun is the Master of Sinanju, the predecessor to all other martial arts, it gives a person the ability to use their mind and body as a weapon. It gets its name from the little town in Korea that Chiun hails from. Ironically, Chiun is played by the very non-Korean Joel Grey, in fact Mr. Grey was born in my hometown of Cleveland, OH. Chiun is a fantastic character. He can dodge bullets, disarm a man in seconds, he’s quicker than a hiccup and he did the whole Matrix bend backwards move way before there was a Matrix. He also loves soap operas and has a sharp tongue, never afraid to tell it like it is. If there is a remake, I can see Chiun parody Twitter accounts and his insults would be great if you died in The Destroyer video game.
- The Premise: George Grove (played by Charles Cioffi) is a well connected weapons manufacturer. There have been suspicions about the way Grove has done business for years, but he’s never been caught and to the general public he is seen as a great and powerful businessman, a patriot and humanitarian. It is Remo’s job to get some dirt on George Grove and finally bring him to justice. He also gets the side task of assisting Maj. Rayner Fleming (Kate Mulgrew), who is unknowingly in danger due to her concerns over Grove and his products.
- Behind Every Great Villain: Grove gets some help from his stooge Jim Wilson (played by Michael Pataki, who was Ivan Drago’s Russian stooge in Rocky IV) and one of the best bad guy character actors of them all, Mr. Patrick Kilpatrick in the role of Stone, Grove’s hired muscle. He also has a General Scott Watson who is nothing more than a Grove puppet.
- A Once In A Lifetime Shot: A good portion of the movie deals with Chiun preparing Remo and training him in the art of Sinanju. This includes breaking Remo from his fear of heights. Chiun accomplishes this with some rooftop exercises, a trip to Coney Island and the Wonder Wheel and last but certainly not least a trip to the Statue of Liberty. At the time of the making of the movie The Statue of Liberty was being renovated and it was closed to the public, this gave the filmmakers an amazing backdrop to work with, that will never happen again… even if a movie could get permission in today’s world, they would more than likely opt to CGI it.
Remo is a little long for an action flick, especially one from the 80’s. It moves slow at times, which is likely why as a kid I couldn’t even sit through the movie when my dad rented it. But the more mature me definitely enjoys all 121 minutes. The story is well told, the cast of heroes is perfect and nothing about it feels cookie cutter.
This one is Top Ten Favorite Movie material for me and receives my highest recommendation. Here are a few things to watch for…
- Attention To Detail: While at Coney Island, Chiun wins a giant Pink Panther stuffed animal. Later in the film, while he is painting, you see the Pink Panther in the background. Later when Remo poses as a soldier, the name tag on the uniform reads “Williams”. I applaud the attention paid to some of the little things.
- Smart Dog Tricks: When Remo and Mac pay a visit to one of Grove Industries facilities, Remo encounters some of the most talented dogs to ever grace the movie screen. You have to see it to believe it.
- My 2nd Favorite Scene Involving a Bed Pan: When Remo wakes up in the hospital after CURE has faked his death and abducted him, my 2nd favorite scene involving a bed pan occurs, for those of you wondering what my 1st favorite scene involving a bed pan is… that would be the night that Stone Cold Steve Austin nailed Mr. McMahon in the head with one on Monday Night Raw.
- My Favorite Chiun Quote: “You move like a pregnant yak.”
- Reboot: Rumor has it Shane Black is working on a reboot titled The Destroyer.