Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)
Company: Twilight Time
Starring: Joel Grey, Wilford Brimley, Fred Ward, J.A. Preston, Charles Cioffi, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Pataki, William Hickey
My Review and Thoughts:
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Remo Williams can be looked at in a total guilty pleasure way. This is pure action wonderment of the Drive-in style nature of popcorn entertainment at its finest. This is a pure fun flick that I return to often watching it in all its popcorn bliss. I was super excited that Twilight Time was picking this mastery of action, comedy and adventure, for one of their Special Edition Blu-ray releases. I am a huge fan of this film. I feel it’s one of those movies that is often over looked or never given the glory it deserves. This is a pure Cult following action film that has some great humor, and most of all a giddy like adventure that brings out the action emotion in us all.
The plot is simple and yet B-movie perfect. Your main character Sam Makin who is a New York city cop and Vietnam Veteran happens to be sought out, and given the opportunity to become an assassin for a secret U.S. government organization. Now to start with, his death is faked, a new face through a plastic surgery and a new name REMO WILLIAMS. If that doesn’t grab your attention, then nothing will. Next, he is trained to be a human killing machine, as you would guess, by a Korean arts master. Now if that does not sum up the popcorn entertainment beauty that it is then nothing will. But wait there's more, the skills he learns, dodging bullets, and even, yes, walking on water, yes you read that right. So the organization he works for is code named CURE. CURE cannot wait for his training too be complete, because of an assignment that needs solved. Remo is sent to investigate inside the US Army, because of a corrupt weapons situation.
Total perfection of action, comedy, and just everything to bring you in to this odd, weird, and strange film. When reading the plot one would think how stupid, but it’s not, it’s plain brilliant. The movie is fun, and is enjoyable no matter how many times you see it. It’s popcorn entertainment. I was always sad that there never was more of the films to further the character and situations. I think this would have been an amazing series of popcorn films.
Starring the one and only Fred Ward. I still can’t believe as of this writing he is 73 years old, boy that makes me feel old. Fred Ward is a great actor. A wonderful character actor. An actor that has been in so many memorable films. Remo is mainly one of them, but there are countless others such as Tremors, need I say more. From his first feature film alongside the one and only Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz all the way to Miami Blues, Short Cuts and The Right Stuff. I personally will always remember him in one of my favorite films of all time, 1983’s Silkwood, (which I wish someone would bring to a special edition Blu-ray). Also the often overlooked 1981 film Southern Comfort, shines with his performance. Who can forget his role in the 1990 film Henry & June. I am a lover of his first starring main lead role in 1982’s cult film, Timerider. He is one of those players that you know his face, and his acting no matter how small the part, or big the part is. He aced the part of Remo Williams. Remo Williams is Fred Ward.
Now on an interesting note there was a TV movie or better yet a TV pilot called Remo Williams: The Prophecy in 1988, airing on TV. Jeffrey Meek takes over the role of Remo Williams, but nothing ever came of this reality. The Remo Williams concept is or the character is based on the long running pulp paperback series The Destroyer. As of this writing there is 152 books. And believe it or not, there are plans for a new movie to be written by and directed by Shane Black. Black is responsible for so many wonderful scripts from 1987’s Lethal Weapon 1 and also it’s sequel, 1987’s The Monster Squad, 1993’s Last Action Hero, he wrote and directed Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys. The Destroyer movie is planned, but does not have any release date. Shane Black has three projects in the works, one being the new Remo Williams film, a new Predator film, and a Doc Savage film.
Also starring one of my favorite performers, Joel Grey as the character of Chiun. Grey is a magical performer. A pioneer of brilliance in the art-form of acting. He is probably best known for his part of Master of Ceremonies in 1972’s classic, Cabaret. Also starring the one and only Anthony Wilford Brimley. Brimley has been a stable in cinema. I grew up watching him. From the master works of 1979’s The China Syndrome, 1984’s The Natural, and two of my personal favorites, the masterpiece of special effects 1982’s The Thing, and the wonderment of drama sci-fi, 1985’s Cocoon. Brimley is always amazing in no matter what he does. Also starring the wonderful J.A. Preston, a wonderful character actor. I will always know him from the character Ozzie Cleveland in the classic TV series Hill Street Blues. He plays the character Conn MacCleary in Remo Williams. Always a treat to see him perform. Also starring a favorite of mine George Coe. I grew up watching Coe in many wonderful films from 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer, 1982’s The Entity, but it was his TV series work and his voice acting that really shined to me. From Max Headroom, L.A. Law, and doing the voice of Woodhouse and The Pope character in the Archer TV series. He also did the voice of Que/Wheeljack in the film 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Sadly, we lost this wonderful character actor in 2015, but he will always be remembered for many wonderful roles. Also stars the wonderful Kate Mulgrew who I absolutely love. She starred as one of my favorite Captains in the Star Trek Universe for 7 years. Captain Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001). Most recently you can see her mastery in acting in the part of Galina “Red” Reznikov in the Netflix series Orange is The New Black, she is absolutely fabulous and stunning in performing this part. No matter what she has done from TV, to feature film, she masters her characters and shines in perfection. She was priceless as the character Major Fleming in Remo Williams. Also quick mentions the wonderful Michael Pataki, he was an amazing character actor through his career. Not only an actor but a voice actor. He is greatly missed. He was a huge character actor in countless television series and many movies. I will always remember him in the TV live-action Spiderman in the 70's. Of course you can never not know him from many of his countless B-movies such as the wonderful Dracula's Dog, Graduation Day, The Return of Count Yorga and the very weird and odd cameo in 1973’s The Baby. Many will know him as Dr. Hoffman in Halloween 4. We sadly lost his talent in 2010. He was truly a gifted performer. Now this also has the one and only b-grade action star and horror fiend, all around actor Patrick Kilpatrick. I grew up with countless films of his in my childhood of the 80’s and 90’s, and he always owned his part from villain, to good guy, to robot and beyond. Such ultra-Drive-In classics like The Toxic Avenger, to the ultra-robot Sci-Fi, Class of 1999. From awesome Death Warrant, to my personal all-time favorite, Scanner Cop 2. Anything and everything he acts in, he shines in his persona of true, bad ass, or ultra-cool characters. Over 140 acting performances from TV, to movie, to miniseries.
Remo Williams was directed by a wonderful film maker that sadly we lost this year, Guy Hamilton . He passed away on April 20th 2016. He lived a long life. 93 years. He left a vast array of cinema, both great and small. He worked on one of my favorite films of all time, as assistant director alongside Orson Welles for, 1949’s masterpiece, The Third Man. I am a huge fan of his very first movie that he directed. The mystery 1952’s The Ringer, which I highly recommend. To me one of his best works is the 1954 film, An Inspector Calls, starring one of my top 50 greatest actors of all time, Alastair Sim, who starred in the best version of The Christmas Carol ever done, 1951’s version, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst. Guy Hamilton might be best known for directing 4 James Bond films. One being one of the best of the franchise, 1964’s Goldfinger. He also directed the Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun. To me his best directing work was the 1969 War, action Drama, Battle of Britain. He also directed and adapted the screenplay for another wonderful and important World War 2 film, 1955’s The Colditz Story. I recommend both Battle of Britain and The Colditz Story for any lover of War cinema, or great cinema period. He was a director that owned the lens, and created what he wanted, and gave the world of cinema history, many memorable films, and I feel Remo Williams is one of those films in the Drive-In, B-grade action, Cult status, that should be watched.
This is a pure action film that has been lovingly brought to a top quality Blu-ray. It is a film that I recommend always to any lover of popcorn entertainment. Believe it or not this wonderful popcorn flick was nominated for an Academy Award for best makeup at the 58th Academy Awards. It did not win, but still, it showcases you the overall reality of the importance of the makeup department in cinema even if it's a Cult style setting of film. That is something that amazingly stands out with this film, the sets, the amazing stunts, costumes and props all seem real, and showcases an art form in themselves.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Yet again this is mastered perfectly in High definition. Perfection in audio and video. Twilight Time aced this department again. The sound is top quality, very intense, loud and spot on in great detail. The action sequences bursting with audio clarity. The video is the same, crisp, vibrant color. The texture of the film looks new. The high definition transfer is absolutely new, fresh and beautiful.
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 2.0 DTS-HD MA
SUBTITLES: English SDH
1985 / Color
My Rating: 5 out of 5
A great set of special features.
Isolated Score Track. The music is composed by a wonderful musician and composer Craig Safan. Something interesting to note is he won the ASCAP Film and Television Award for Top TV Series over a 7-year period for his music on the TV series Cheers. He did the composing for so many memorable scores for films that stand out in one way or another. From many of my favorite quality pleasures, such as the cult style films like, 1979’s Roller Boogie, 1980’s Fade to Black, 1983’s Nightmares, 1984’s The Last Starfighter, 1985’s The Legend of Billie Jean, 1985’s Warning Sign, 1988’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. Interesting to note is that the Remo's Theme (What If), was written by Styx member Tommy Shaw, and also sung by him.
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer, and Paul Scrabo. I was not happy at all with the tone of this commentary. Clearly the film historians did not go into this film looking at it as a fun, popcorn entertainment film, they went into it, to make fun of it or pick it apart. If you’re a fan of this movie and cherish it for what it is, wonderful popcorn entertainment, I would suggest not listening to this commentary, because most on this commentary show no love for the film.
Created, The Destroyer: Writing Remo Williams: This has a running time of a little over 17 minutes. I loved this program because it has the son of Warren Murphy, the creator of the long running book series THe Destryoer that Remo Williams is based on, talking about his father. Sadly, we lost Warren Murphy in 2015. But left so many action packed memories of pulp fiction.
Unarmed and Dangerous: Producing Remo Williams: This has a running time of close to 22 minutes. This has producers Larry Spiegel and Judy Goldstein talking about the production of the film, and also the many locations.
Secrets of Sinanju: Training Remo Williams: This has a close to 9-minute running time. This has the wonderful actor Joel Grey talking about his memories of the film, and working on it. Also I really enjoyed how he brought up the over 4-hour makeup job that it took for him to go through. This is a fantastic watch.
Balance of Power: Designing Remo Williams: A little over 15-minute running time. Production designer Jackson De Govia talks about the Statue of Liberty moment, (which might I add is one of the great moments). Talks about working in different spots and working outside of his comfort level.
Assassin’s Tune: Composing Remo Williams: This has a running time of close to 14 minutes. The composer himself Craig Safan talks about the movies music. A truly informative piece. A great listen for any lover of music and also film.
Still and Promotional Gallery: This has a run time of a little over 7 minutes. A wonderful montage of stills, posters and so on. A great adventure into all the promotional set up to the film.
Original Theatrical Trailer: Running time of close to 3 minutes.
You also get the wonderful 6-page booklet by film historian Julie Kirgo. Another wonderful read. Julie always gives a perfect analysis of the films that Twilight Time chooses.
Twilight Time always entertains the true movie fan. They give high quality beauties, on new fresh transfer’s and restorations. Remo Williams is a pure popcorn entertainment Cult following style of film, created, and brought out for fans of action adventure, and Twilight Time has taken that action adventure cult film to the new level of audio and video perfection.
They cleaned this film up, created a spotless Blu-ray. Gave and chose special features and adding all the more for the fan to enjoy, and thoroughly embrace. Twilight Time did it again when it comes to audio, video, and production value of a product that is worthy to own. I highly recommend this Blu-ray; it’s a must own experience for any fan of true Cult style films.
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