Blu-Ray Review – Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins

“It’s going to take a dead man to save the country…from a death merchant’s dream of destruction!”

The 80s was an odd decade, but it was a high point for action films. John Rambo, John McClane, Riggs, Indiana Jones, Jack Burton and Chuck Norris (he needs no character) are all household names, but chances are you’ve not heard of Remo Williams. Based on The Destroyer pulp paperback series and intended by the Studio as a vehicle for Fred Ward, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins ended up disappearing into almost obscurity.

Sam (Fred Ward) is a New York cop who is unwittingly recruited into a secret organisation run by Conn (J.A. Preston) and Smith (Wilford Brimley), where he’s groomed into a killing machine by a mysterious Korean, Chiun (Joel Grey). Abruptly called into action to investigate a corrupt weapons program commected to the US army, he bumps into Major Rayner Fleming (Kate Mulgrew) along the way, as they strive to stop an evil weapons manufacturer before he stops them.

Billed as the beginning of an action franchise, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins sank without trace upon release in 1985. Watching it again now, it definitely didn’t deserve to disappear into obscurity. Some of the problems can be put down to tone. There are some very funny sequences and moments, but unlike say Indiana Jones where wry humour is used as an aside, Remo Williams too frequently uses it as the driving force. Fred West also lacks the charisma to make a compelling action hero.

However, it’s an entertaining watch, and whilst it may not be a classic action film, it certainly has its moments.

Special Features

• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film from a digital transfer prepared by MGM
• Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 PCM audio
• Isolated Music and Effects soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary with producers Larry Spiegel and Judy Goldstein
• Remo, Rambo, Reagan and Reds: The Eighties Action Movie Explosion – all-new feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions focusing on a decade of cinematic destruction and Remo Williams’s place among the carnage. Includes new interviews with genre expert Bey Logan, Remo producers Larry Spiegel and Judy Goldstein, celebrated directors Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja) and Mark L. Lester (Commando), producers Don Borchers (Angel) and Garrick Dion (Drive), filmmaker and scholar Howard S. Berger and Professor Susan Jeffords (author of Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era)
• When East Met West – Joel Grey reflects on his turn as Chiun
• Changing Faces – make-up expert Carl Fullerton discusses his Oscar-nominated work on Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins…
• Notes for a Nobleman – composer Craig Safan talks about his classic score
• Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress
• Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the origins of Remo Williams by Barry Forshaw and an on-set report from American Cinematographer magazine

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Films on July 7

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