- Movie Rating -

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins . . . (1985)

| October 11, 1985

I want to like Remo Williams The Adventure Begins more than I do.  When it was over, I was smiling, I knew I’d seen some great scenes and I had laughed a few times.  But all that was overridden by the fact that the movie is way too long, it has too many characters, too many scenes and is far too disorganized.  Essentially, I was enjoying a badly constructed movie.

It doesn’t take a movie analyst to see that the studio, Orion Pictures, is hoping that this will kick off a lucrative series, a sort-of rough American version of James Bond, but I don’t think that it will. 

The movie begins with a cop (Fred Ward) who is apparently murdered in the line of duty.  He wakes up some time later with a new face and is told that he is being recruited by a super-secret branch of the CIA called CURE, which seeks to protect The Constitution largely by working outside of it.  His direct supervisor is Harold Smith (Wilford Brimely) who spends the entire movie behind a computer desk and lauds funny platitudes at our hero.

Renamed Remo Williams, he is then given a strange form of martial arts training by an ancient master named Chun (Joel Grey under a ton on makeup) which includes such goodies as fighting in the dark and basically learning how to defy gravity.

The training is really beside the point.  Smith’s first mission for Remo is to find a defense contractor named Grove who has charges against him and a lot of witnesses who have turned up missing.  Down and down it goes, as we uncover one secret after another and Remo fights one bad guy after another who are at Grove’s command.  To be honest, I had a lot of trouble following this plot.  It is too complicated for its own good, there are too many players and the movie meanders when it should walk the narrative line. 

What I did like were the performances of Fred Ward and Joel Grey who have a nice chemistry together.  Grey’s performance is funny and charming even if it is basically an old Asian stereotype.  There are scenes that I liked, particularly a fight atop the scaffolding surrounding Statue of Liberty.  I don’t know how the scenes was filmed but I can say that the heights made me nervous.  I also liked Remo’s training, which includes hop-skipping tall poles in the dark and learning how to balance the body on the tip of your fingers.

Those scenes were fun, but again, when the movie was over I was struggling over how to process it.  I had seen things that I liked but overall the movie wasn’t satisfying.  It needed trimming, it needed a better pace.  It needed, as the late director Howard Hawks would say, three good scenes and no bad scenes.  This movie, unfortunately, has both.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Action