Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) — Fred Ward’s shot at a superhero

“He moves like a baboon — with two club feet. However, there is a feeble glint of promise in his eyes.”

Justin’s rating: Pooper scoopers… who needs ’em?

Justin’s review: Rewatching Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins reminds me of a long time ago when one of my youth group leaders brought this movie to a lock-in. At the time, I thought it was funny, somewhat long, and lacking in chutzpah.

About 10 years after seeing this movie, I still think it’s funny, somewhat long, and full of chutzpah. Fred Ward, who was really never slated for the superhero circuit, gets shoved into this dubious honorific here. Remo is a guy who’s drowned and resurrected by a mysterious government organization (headed by the Quaker Oats guy). This is one of those ambiguous “black” organizations, possibly the Department of Motor Vehicles, God knows they have enough time on their hands. This organization is stupid and seems to take perverse pleasure in using death and suicide to keep their cause silent.

Remo is trained by Chiun (Joel Grey), who is part Mr. Miyagi, part Yoda, and part middle-aged housewife. Mostly he waddles and gives out sage-like advice while thinking of torturous tasks for Remo to do. The first half of the movie is spent in “training” stage, and oh-too-little is spent later on actually battling the bad guys at the Statue of Liberty and deep in a forest.

Fortunately for us, the training part is where most of the laughs breed. For the uneducated in action/martial arts films: Heroes (at least in the first movie) have to go through a mandatory “training” phase to transform them from helpless wimp to Bruce Lee demigod. The training phase can take place through a cheesy three-minute montage, or stretch on up to a good hour of screen time.

Remo Williams narrowly avoids Movie Obscurity Hell through its terrific interaction between master and student. Fred Ward projects a stoic bemusement in all his films, and it works well here. But he’s upstaged by Grey’s Chiun, who is screamingly hilarious in virtually every scene. Chuin may be a tough assassin, but he also gets possessive when he wins a giant Pink Panther doll at a fair (“I won it. It’s mine.”).

So if you have a free video rental coming, you couldn’t do wrong to relax with a bottle of IBC root beer and our good friend Remo.

Didja notice?

  • Chiun’s eyes when he’s watching his soaps
  • The magnificent guard dogs and their uncanny ways
  • When Remo dives out of the gas chamber, the glass breaks BEFORE he hits it

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