Review by Glenn Misztal
Distributed by Arrow Films
Remember the 80s? Big hair. Headbands. Leather jackets. Loud music. Lots of action films. Action films where the stuntmen did real stunts. There was no green or blue screen when filming. There was no computer generated imagery. Yes, sometimes you could see the strings. It made you wonder what kind of life insurance policy the movie studio took took out on their stuntmen.
Every once and a while an action film comes along that makes you wonder how exactly the stunts were achieved. ‘Remo Williams : The Adventure Begins’ (herein titled simply as Remo Williams throughout this review) is one of such films.
The movie revolves around a New York cop that died and was resurrected by a small organisation that gave him plastic surgery to change his face and sends him on missions. So, he gets a new face and a new name - Remo Williams (played by Fred Ward).
Being made by Canon Films, all the typical hallmarks of a Canon film are there - Cathode Ray tube computer screen graphics, a military plot, guns and lots of concrete walls. Being of the 80’s cop and slight fantasy genre, Remo Williams has a feeling of Hill Street Blues meets Big Trouble in Little China.
Joel Grey steals the show as Chiun, a oriental sage that teaches Remo the way of martial arts and physical and mental strength.
Again, lots of action in this movie with some comedy mixed in - in particular between Remo Williams and Chiun and their conflict banter.
A younger Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Janeaway in Star trek Voyager also makes an appearance as Remo’s love interest throughout this movie.
Guy Hamilton who directed four of the James Bond film takes his directing skills and the stunts to dizzying new heights (see what I did there?) I scratched my head in amazement at the stunts in this film. The one scene that particularly impressed me was the doberman tricks. In fact, there are so many stunts in this movie that it can be described as a well put together montage of stunts with a seamlessly interconnecting storyline.
Remo Williams bombed at the box office when it was released in 1985, but managed to find a huge cult following on home video. Watching the film, you get a bit of sadness as the movie was setup for a sequel that never happened. For a movie with the subtitle ‘The Adventure Begins’, you would expect it. There was an attempt to make a TV series - Remo Williams : The Prophecy was made as a TV pilot in 1988. Again, it was never picked up so we have to settle for re-watching this great action film again.
Video : 4.5/5
The disc has a new high definition of the movie itself and is a very clean clean transfer. it is very detailed in terms of being very grainy and dotty. I was almost reminded of a pointillist painting. Even the makeup on Joel Grey’s face is very detailed in close ups that the latex wrinkles are very protruding. You would hardly believe you we watching a movie from the 80’s.
In a aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the detail is simply breathtaking.
Audio : 3.5/5
The music of Remo Williams gives a proud orchestral synthesiser theme mixed with an oriental overtones. Craig Safan composed the music. A bit of trivia - he also composed the music for another 80’s movie ‘The Last Starfighter’. There are one of two Roadhouse bands sounds thrown in there, too. Again, Arrow Films have done a fantastic job of presenting this in a The music and sound comes across as loud, booming, yet clear in the Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio.
Extras : 4/5
The Blu-Ray disc has many extras. Lots of interesting information here :
- Commentary with Larry Spiegel and Judy Goldstein.
- Remo, Rambo, Reagan and Reds - a retrospect look into 80’s action films era.
- Changing Faces - transformation from himself to Chiun.
- Notes for a Nobelman - Music of and interview with Craig Safan.
Not specially extras, but Arrow films have gone to the trouble of adding a reversible Blu-Ray cover and a Collector’s booklet as well to the Blu-Ray packaging. I’m a big fan of when Blu-Ray/DVD distributors take real care to do such things, so bonus points to Arrow Films for sweetening the deal.
Overall - 4/5
M : 4/5
V : 4.5/5
A : 3.5/5
E : 4/5
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