Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Review
And you can't wait for it to end.
It’s easy to look back on fond childhood memories with rose-tinted glee, and sometimes hard to distinguish between classics from that period, and films that you loved when you were a kid, but which don’t stand up to more mature scrutiny.Unfortunately, Remo Williams may just fall into the latter category for many, and, for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, may well end up being nothing but a lightweight mess of very little worth indeed. The story – although, really, it makes absolutely no sense – is supposed to play out as a kind-of blend of Rambo and Bond, but has more in common with The Karate Kid and The Golden Child, only without any comedy.It sees Fred Ward’s dogged cop ‘killed’ in the line of duty, before being resurrected (and given a face-change which appears to have only affected his moustache) to work for a black ops assassination unit which appears to only have three members, all of whom don’t actually kill very many people. To this end he has to be trained by a ‘Korean’ mentor, who teaches him to jump in sand, walk on cement, and dodge bullets.
A strange movie, which features its best and most bloody and brutal action during its opening scene ‘murder’, and only goes downhill from there, Remo looks like a production whose budget simply seeped away before they could do anything they actually wanted to.
Remembered mostly for its relatively rare use of the Statue of Liberty – which is anticlimactic, at best, as Remo fights a bunch of construction workers who appear to have been paid to push him off (?!) – and for Joel Grey’s impersonation of a Korean martial arts mentor, one of the things that you keep expecting, but never get (aside from any decent action) is some comedy. Considering the film wears its budget on its sleeve, and has so many odd ideas in it (really, what’s with the walking-on-water trick, what possible use is that, even within the confines of the movie?), it would have worked far better had it not even bothered attempting to take itself seriously.
"All I can promise you is terror for breakfast, pressure for lunch, and aggravation for sleep."
Instead it hits you with brazenly incongruous musical scoring, gung-ho cliche-ridden dialogue, and straight-faced ‘drama’, from which only Fred Ward’s game-for-anything central performance, and perhaps some of his mentor’s dismissive one-liners, survive intact. Neither suitable for kids – the opening sequence and a later eye-gouging preclude this – nor particularly designed for adults, the film itself plays like an extended version of a pilot for a TV series, which is ironic considering that the source books were later used for a further, abortive TV project. Clearly they wanted to make a Remo franchise, but there’s nothing here to suggest that that would have been a good idea.
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