Remo, that name sure wouldn’t strike fear in the heart of criminals. it’s not really a manly name like a Chuck or Arnold or even a Stone Cold Austin. It’s more like something you would name your old Camaro. “I think the Remo is burning some oil, might need to replace the headers. No Suzie, you can’t wear my Van Halen shirt or you might curse the band to break up.” But sadly Remo is the name of our hero in 1985’s “Remo Williams: The adventure begins.” What was originally based on a series of action novels would have likely been the kick off to a successful b-movie franchise if it wasn’t for the fact that A. Nobody saw it and B. It made no money. I blame Reagonomics. It’s too bad since It’s actually a pretty decent flick. You just have to get pass the dang 80’s montage music and bad Asian stereotypes.
Officer Samual Macon is out on patrol when he gets into a brawl with some street punks chasing each other in the alley, but they’re simply no match for his manly mustache and trusty 2×4. After a brutal rumble, He settles back in his patrol car for some day old burgers but his car gets rear-ended over the pier. “No, someone please save my burgers!’ then it’s mostly just gurgling and gasping for air.
Macon awakes later in a hospital having his face altered by plastic surgery. They actually just shaved off his mustache and gave him a hair cut and some new clothes making him unrecognizable. It’s like face/off through extreme makeover. Agent MacClearly is waiting in the room like a creeper who tells Macon that he’s been recruited into a secret government agency and that his name is now Remo, appropriately named after cabana boys everywhere. Mac takes Remo to meet the head hancho of the organization Mr Smith, played by Wilfred “Quaker Oats” Brimley. He tells him that his old life is over now and soon he’ll be snipping corrupt CEO’s and evil politicians for a living. Plus, he’ll get great medical and dental coverage if he ever catches the “diabetes.”
For his first mission Remo has to try to assassinate a small korean man name Chiun at a nearby apartment. Not an easy task as Chiun moves like a caffeinated spider monkey that can dodge bullets or render you paralyzed with a single finger punch. After a humiliating defeat McClearly reveals that Chiun is going to be the guy responsible for training Remo as a deadly assassin despite thinking he moves like a pregnant baboon. Remo is forced to move in with Chiun where he’s trains by jumping across obstacle courses and dodging Chiun’s random pistol shots at breakfast. At night Remo relaxes with some fingerboard exercising and enriched white rice while Chiun watches soap operas. Yeah, it’s just like the odd couple only with gun play.
Meanwhile in what feels like an entirely separate A-team episode, a military accountant Major Flemming (Kate Mulgrew) discovers that an evil CEO is part of a a corrupt weapons procurement program. Please, as if that would ever happen today. She brings it up during a press conference but nobody seems to listen despite her being a star trek captain. But the CEO, Mr. Grove, begins to feel the heat and sends out some goons to keep tabs on her.
Remo is sent in to investigate Mr. Grove, but a henchman tracks him down at the statue of liberty where some paid-off construction worker try to beat him up with lead pipes. Union workers are no match for Remo’s new made-for-tv moves so he easily escapes with some light gymkata and face punching. Later, Remo and MacClearly sneaks into Grove’s research laboratory where they bump into some circus trained dobermans who pull down fire escapes and walk tight ropes and all without the aid of Russian acrobat music. Remo barely escapes but MacClearly gets his fake armed ripped off by one of the mutts then gets shot in the back. I bet he was only 2 weeks away from retirement too!
Remo wanting revenge, infiltrate the military proving grounds where Mr. Grove is using his procured weapons of mass distraction. He traps Remo and Major Flemming in a sealed room where the only way he can escape is by scrapping a bad guy’s diamond encrusted tooth against the glass. Remo decides to ride a hanging log over the forest (not a euphemism) and do some dance moves to dodge Mr. Groves gunshots then torching him in his army jeep. The military try to arrest Remo but he escapes on a jet boat with Chiun riding shotgun like a happy puppy in a car window. Which never really answers the question “What is weapon procurement” and “Does Wilford Brimley really have the diabetes?”
Barry Goodall says let your adventure begin… and end with Remo Williams but don’t forget to finish your training montage and pack some extra Quaker Oats. It’s the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it.
Ferris wheel kung-fu training
Check out this trailer from “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins”