Don't mess with "Remo Williams"
TODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: 1985's "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins," starring Fred Ward, Wilford Brimley, Joel Grey and Kate Mulgrew. The movie was based on "The Destroyer" pulp paperback books and was intended to be the first in a series of movies of based on the character, but it bombed at the box office.
THE PLOT: The death of a loner street cop (Ward) is faked so that he can be recruited to join an ultra-secret government agency (headed by Brimley). After being retrained in a forgotten martial art by Korean master Chiun (Grey), the new "Remo Williams" -- his name is taken from the bottom of a bedpan -- is unleashed to take out a corrupt military contractor.
MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: Kate Mulgrew, years before taking over command of the Starship Voyager, plays a stiff Army captain who becomes a reluctant ally of Remo. The great William Hickey ("Forget Paris," "My Blue Heaven") also has a cameo as a carnival barker.
SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: The martial arts instructor isn't Korean at all -- it's a heavily made-up Joel Grey, better known to theater fans for winning an Academy Award and Tony award for his role as the "master of ceremonies" in the stage and big-screen versions of "Cabaret." (Obscure trivia: Grey -- father of Jennifer Grey -- would reunite with Mulgrew on "Star Trek: Voyager," playing a guest role in 1996.)
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: "As the title alludes, the movie was obviously intended to be the first in a series. Too bad that it tanked. The hero is all set up to get the girl, Chiun must have a whole bag of insults left, and we will never know if the soap opera character walked again." -- BadMovies.org
WHY WE LOVE IT ANYWAY: There's a freakishly likable chemistry between all the characters, but especially Remo and Chiun, who fires off insults in an manner that would impress Jackie Mason, Lisa Lampanelli and Jeffrey Ross. Without Chiun, you're looking at a really lame comic book movie -- or the script to an Indiana Jones sequel.
5 MEMORABLE LINES FROM CHIUN IN REMO WILLIAMS:
5. "Your reflexes are pitiful! The seasons move faster."
4. "Women should stay home and make babies. Preferably, manchild."
3. "Professional assassination. It's the highest form of public service."
2. "The trained mind does not need a watch. Watches are a confidence trick invented by the Swiss."
1. "Pitiful. I can see the deadly hamburger has done its evil work."