In the early 70s I was a fan of the Destroyer series of novels. The paperback series, created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, told the story of secret government agent Remo Williams and his trainer Chiun and their adventures. When I heard a movie based on the books was coming out in 1985 I was anxious to see it. It turned out to be everything I thought it could be and I enjoyed it but I was only one of few. The movie didn't fare well at the box office and a following series never materialized. That didn't stop the movie from finding a following on video and now on disc. Sam Makin (Fred Ward) is a beat cop who unwillingly recruited to be a new type of special agent for the government. Faking his death, giving him reconstructive plastic surgery and taking him into the fold he is told by controller Harold Smith (Wilford Brimley) that his new name is Remo Williams and that he will be working for him. To make him the most formidable agent possible Williams will be trained by Korean martial arts instructor Chiun (Joel Grey). Chiun is the master of Sinanju, a secretive martial art that few are even aware of. Williams continues his training with two well played scenes some will remember. One takes place on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. The second involves the Statue of Liberty where he is forced to use the skills he's developed to take on a few workers on the scaffolding there and not fall off at the same time. Eventually William's skills are called on when a weapons procurement program seems to involve a dealer who is passing off bad weapons. A Maj. Rayner Fleming (Kate Mulgrew) has been sent in to investigate and it doesn't take long for her path to cross with Remo. Before they can dig deeper they're on the run and trying to solve the problem at the same time. The interplay between Williams and Chiun is what makes this movie different than most. There is a lot of subtle and sometimes not so subtle humor involved in their relationship. An example of this is the fact that Chiun denigrates American culture and food but insist that soap operas are the best thing there is about it. By the end of the film they feel more like father and son than teacher and student. Both Ward and Grey shine in this film. Ward has that world weary look to him but handles the lead with ease, proving that he was a much better actor than the roles provided him in his career displayed. Grey is amazing to watch beneath a well done makeup job. The makeup was so good that it was nominated for an Oscar that year losing out to MASK. Not only that, Grey was nominated for a best supporting actor at the Golden Globes for his performance. The combination of humor, stunt work and action make this film a treat from start to finish. Why it didn't do as well as expected is beyond me. When I've met people who have seen the film they have nothing but good things to say about it. But apparently the audiences of 1985 weren't as pleased. It's nice to see it arrive in a great looking blu-ray edition though. Twilight Time not only provides the best look this film has had since it was originally released there are plenty of extras on hand as well. Those include an isolated score track, an audio commentary track with film historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo, the featurette CREATED, THE DESTROYER: WRITING REMO WILLIAMS, the featurette UNARMED AND DANGEROUS: PRODUCING REMO WILLIAMS, the featurette SECRETS OF SINANJU: TRAINING REMO WILLIAMS, the featurette BALANCE OF POWER: DESIGNING REMO WILLIAMS, the featurette Assassin'S TUNE: COMPOSING REMO WILLIAMS, a stills and promotional gallery and the original theatrical trailer. As with all Twilight Time releases this was limited to just 3,000 copies so fans will want to jump on this one before it sells out.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
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An officially "dead" cop is trained to become an extraordinary unique assassin in service of the US President.
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April 12, 2019