06th Jul2014

‘Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Fred Ward, Joel Grey, Wilford Brimley, J.A. Preston, George Coe, Charles Cioffi, Kate Mulgrew, Patrick Kilpatrick, Michael Pataki | Written by Christopher Wood | Directed by Guy Hamilton


Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris… the eighties action movie megastars, but what about Fred Ward? I’ll admit this is the first time I’ve seen Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… but now I have I know it deserves to be high on top eighties action movies lists.

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… starts with a faked death and a new identity.  Forced to be a part of a secret organisation known as CURE he is put into training with Chiun (Joel Grey) a master of an ancient Korean martial art known as Sinanju.  As his training progresses he makes good progress, but soon his skills are needed for a mission not only to protect his country but also CURE itself.  Has he got what it takes though to take up the mission or will be be doomed to failure?

Remo Williams was based on the popular pulp novel series “The Destroyer” and with a planned TV show there was hope that the film would be a success.  The show never came to be and while the film did have some success it didn’t take off like some of the other action movies of its time, if anything it was a head of its time.  With actors Fred Ward and Joel Grey though and a quirky sense of humour Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… was arguably destined to be a cult hit.  The fact that Arrow Video have picked it up to give it their Blu-ray treatment shows that there is love for the oddity that is Remo Williams, and that makes action fans very lucky especially the quality of the release.

The fact is Remo Williams came at a time when the action buddy movie really wasn’t a thing yet, but the characters of Remo and Chiun were a total bromance.  The somewhat controversial decision to apply make-up to Joel Grey to turn him into the Korean Chiun was something that could have be frowned upon, but just looking at the documentaries included with the movie and listening to the commentaries this was something that was understood and the Korean community themselves were happy with the performance, and that was what mattered.  Joel Grey truly made the character of Chiun his, and I think it’s safe to say that nobody could have replaced him.  To me he steals the film, and appears to have some of the best scenes.  He is the most memorable character and Fred Ward’s Remo is almost the sidekick to what should have been the supporting character.  The fact that the chemistry between Ward and Grey was so good too really helped, especially in the training scenes.  The fact that the pilot for the television show didn’t star Joel Grey speaks volumes really as to why the show was never picked up, there is only one Chiun.

Looking at the special features that Arrow Video have provided with Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… the most outstanding is Remo, Rambo, Reagan and Reds: The Eighties Action Movie Explosion.  This is a feature-length look at evolution of the action movies in the eighties.  This really is an excellent documentary and High Rising Productions have outdone themselves providing a fun and very informative look at some of our favourite movies.  I’m pretty sure fans will love it, just as I did.  It places Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… in a timeline with other action movies and makes us understand just where it fit in.  In a decade full of action classics it was somewhat overshadowed and didn’t deserve to be.  Along with this documentary is also a commentary track as well as other interviews and documentaries, including a look at the transformation of Joel Grey as Chiun.

Fred Ward is an actor who is arguably most loved for his role in Tremors, though he has been in other movies like The Right Stuff, Southern Comfort and Escape from Alcatraz.  In Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… he shows just how good his comic timing is, and his partnership with Joel Grey in the bromance that is Remo and Chiun really makes the film sparkle.  With excellent special features and more importantly an excellent presentation of the movie itself, for action fans Remo Williams: An Adventure Begins… is a must buy and for many will be a gem that has been hiding from them for too long.

***** 5/5

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins… is released on Blu-ray on June 7th courtesy of Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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