© 1985 Orion Pictures Corporation

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)

After seeing Cloak and Dagger and WarGames again in the past couple of days, I thought I should continue watching ‘80s films I remember seeing on Saturday afternoon TV more than two decades ago.  I first found out about this film from the Leonard Nimoy-hosted show called “Standby, Lights, Camera, Action!” which explained all aspects of moviemaking to young audiences. I loved the show and tried never to miss an episode. I clearly remember two segments on the show about Remo Williams—one was on all the stunts in the film, and another was a long interview with Joel Grey about the time-consuming makeup and preparations he went through to transform into a centuries-old Korean martial arts master.

When I later saw the film, around the age of 13, I enjoyed the action scene, including the centerpiece segment on the Statue of Liberty, which was under construction at the time, but the background plot exposition was really over my head at the time. Watching the film again today, I realize that the problem wasn’t my age, but the script.

The producers of this film were so sure it would start an ongoing series they gave it the full title Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, but this was the only Remo Williams film ever made. Joel Grey’s character is not exactly politically correct, speaking in an endless stream of fortune cookie lines, but he put a lot into the role and is obviously having fun with it. Fred Ward works as an action star, and does his own stunts, some of which are quite impressive. The problem that doomed this film is the script, which is more than a bit of a mess. I still can’t figure out what it is about, but has something to do with the cover up of a military weapons scandal. And oatmeal spokesman Wilfred Brimley turns up as the unlikely head of a top-secret security organization, making the whole thing even more ridiculous. But with its super cheesy ‘80s synth-laden soundtrack, this is still mildly fun to watch.

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