Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/31/02
Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Fred Ward, Joel Gray, Wilford Brimley, Kate Mulgrew

A New York cop's death is faked so that he can be recruited by a super secret government organization. Sound familiar? He gets a new face and a new name - Remo Williams. The organization wants to take out a dirty, high ranking politician that nobody else can touch, and Remo spends the first hour and twenty minutes of the film learning the art of assassination from a Korean master named Chiun (Joel Gray). A nosy Major Fleming (Kate Mulgrew) gets involved in the affair just to complicate things and to add a slight spark of romantic interest. Remo finally gets down to business in the last twenty minutes of the film and takes on the sinister bad guys.

This is one of those films that's much more enjoyable now than it would have been when it first came out. It's silly, it's corny, and is a prime example of 80's camp entertainment. I would have HATED it if I'd seen it in the 80's. It also has a touch of the bizarre, much like "Buckaroo Banzai" (1984). The film fails to take anything seriously, and especially itself. Remo Williams is goofy and clumsy, and he's a total dork throughout the entire film. Even his name is a joke, being inspired by a bedpan. The film is tediously slow and the action sequences are weak and silly, but they seem to be silly on purpose. Watching Remo get outsmarted by a group of guard dogs is one of the most rewarding bits in the film, and it's all handled tongue-in-cheek. The film's real strength lies in the clever and humorous dialog provided by Master Chiun, who is constantly insulting Remo. It's also interesting that they got a non-Asian actor to play an Asian role, but maybe that's all part of the joke as well? "Remo Williams" is certainly good for laughs (whether intentional or not), but action fans will be sorely disappointed.