Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) – By Duane L. Martin

 

In Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Fred Ward plays a good cop who is selected for a very important job.  Before he can take that job however, he must appear to have been killed, so after he’s attacked in a scenario that was specifically created for this purpose, he ends up rolling off the end of a bridge in his car and drowning.  Later, he wakes up in a hospital with a new face and a new identity…Remo Williams.

The agency that recruited him consists of four people, and it’s their job to perform targeted assassinations of various, corrupt individuals that the law hasn’t been able to touch.  To train him for this task, he’s placed under the tutelage of an old Korean man named Chiun, who’s a master of Shinanju, which has been used throughout time to perform targeted assasinations that by all appearances are nothing more than perfect accidents.  Unfortunately, with only a limited amount of time to train before his first assignment, Remo must learn all he can before he has to take down George Grove, the crooked head of a defense contractor that’s been sucking money from the government for a satellite project that doesn’t exist.  He’s also created defective rifles that under testing conditions exploded in one soldier’s face and killed him, after which the incident was covered up by a bought and paid for general that’s on his payroll.

Along the way, Remo teams up with Major Rayner Flemming (Kate Mulgrew), who has also been investigating Grove Industries, but has been hitting a road block at every turn.  She’s not really sure who Remo is, who’s side he’s on or even if he can really help her, but they along with Chiun have to take down Grove before it’s too late.

I was extremely disappointed with this release, for one specific reason, and that reason is that it was a DVD only release.  Remo Williams is one of my favorite films, and I was dying for it to get some blu-ray love, but sadly this was not to be.  I honestly can’t understand why it didn’t when there are so many crappy films released on blu-ray all the time, and most people nowadays have high definition televisions.  It would only seem to make sense to put out every release on blu-ray as well as DVD.

As for the movie itself, like I said, it’s one of my favorites for a long list of reasons.  First and foremost is the relationship between Remo and Chuin, who’s played by a made-up Joel Grey.  The relationship between the two is contentious at best, but over time and throughout the training process, they develop more of a father and son relationship.  The thing is, Chiun can be an ass, but he’s a really likeable ass with a dry sense of humor, while Remo is the slacker who just wants to eat hamburgers, and yet has to force himself to train as hard as he possibly can.

His relationship with Kate Mulgrew’s character is really entertaining as well.  Just as an example of that, when we first see them together, he’s riding down in an elevator with her.  He looks over at her in her uniform and says, “Nice buttons.”  She laughs at how ridiculous it is, and then they go their separate ways.  Later on he implies that he’s working for military intelligence, even though he isn’t, and he also implies that he outranks her and that they’re basically working on the same investigation, which leads to her helping him in whatever ways she can.  Just as it is with his relationship with Chiun, his relationship with her is entertaining and fun.

There are some crazy action sequences in this film that are incredibly well done, such as Remo trying to escape some paid off construction workers who are trying to send him off of the scaffolding around the Statue of Liberty, or the training sequence on the ferris wheel that’s designed to help Remo get over his fear of heights.  Fred Ward had all the makings of an action hero, and yet sadly, because this film didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped at the box office, none of the planned sequels ever saw the light of day.  Remo Williams needed to be a series of films, which is why it’s criminal in my opinion that this is the only one.

In addition to being DVD only, there are no special features on this release, which makes it doubly disappointing.  Some commentary or something at the very least would have added so much to it.  There’s an import blu-ray you can get from the UK that has cast and crew commentary and a documentary, so why didn’t this release from an excellent company like Kino Lorber get the same treatment?  I find it just absolutely baffling.

I wanted blu-ray, it deserved blu-ray, but it didn’t get blu-ray.  Still, the film itself is one you’ll definitely want to own and have in your collection, because it’s a film that can be watched and enjoyed repeatedly, unlike so many other films out there that are simply just one time watchers.  It has everything you could possibly want in a film.  Likable characters, great action, lots of fun and a sense of humor.  As I said, it’s one of my all time favorite films, and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here: http://www.kinolorber.com/video.php?id=2196