Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 29th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1985
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writer: Christopher Wood
Cast: Fred Ward, Joel Grey, Wilford Brimley, J.A. Preston, George Coe, Charles Cioffi, Patrick Kilpatrick, Michael Pataki
BluRay released: July 7th, 2014
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £12.82
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins was directed by Guy Hamilton who is most remembered for his contributions to the James Bond series, Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. Key collaborators on Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins include cinematographer Andrew Laszlo (Shogun, Rambo) and composer Craig Safan (The Great Texas Dynamite Chase, Angel). Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins was adapted from a series of novels known as The Destroyer series.
Made during the big action boom of the 1980’s Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins had all the ingredients that one would want and expect from an action form this era. There is a charismatic hero that often deifies death where most mortal men would have surely perished in similar circumstances. Also the film features one of coolest sidekicks out to immerge out of the 1980’s action cinema cycle a Korean martial arts expert and trained assassin named Chiun. And of course this film’s actions set pieces are all first rate, especially a scene that takes place on the statue of liberty.
The narrative is rock solid as the film does a superb job establishing who everyone is and what their motivations are? And just the right amount of time is spent building of the Remo Williams character as he is taken through a series of training exercises. Also these training moments between Remo and Chiun are easily the most entertaining moments in this film.
From a performance stand point this film is anchored by Joel Grey (Cabaret) and Fred Ward’s (Southern Comfort) exceptional performances and their tremendous amount onscreen chemistry. Of these two performances the most memorable is easily Joel Grey in the role of Chiun. He not only becomes the character inward, he literally becomes the character outward via an amazing make up job that transforms him beyond recognition.
Before I go any further I feel I should point out that this film does have many moments which require a large ‘leap of faith’ like a scene where Remo runs on air as he crosses a freshly laid section of cement, while the man chasing after him tries the same things and sinks to bottom. Or a scene where is unable to elude a pack of dogs who chase him as he climbs higher and at one point one of the dogs walks across a narrow wire attached between two buildings after him. Then there are some characters who are able to dodge bullets even at a close range. Fortunately this film from the get go establishes a certain atmosphere that these type of things should not be a problem and are in line with the tongue and cheek humor that runs throughout this film.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details look crisp. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Overall this transfer is a marked improvement upon all previous release for this film.
This release comes with two audio option, a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too. Range wise things sound very good and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout. Also included with this release is a second audio track, an isolated music and effects track and removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 55 seconds – 1080 Progressive 1.33:1 aspect ratio), three interviews; the first one with composer Craig Safan (13 minutes 28 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the second one with make-up artist Carl Fullerton (10 minutes 54 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the third interview with actor Joel Grey (10 minutes – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and an audio commentary with producers Larry Spiegel and Judy Goldstein.
Each of the three interviews primarily focus on each participant’s involvement in the film. Other topics include Orion Pictures expectations for the film – including sequels, thoughts on cast and director. Topics discussed in the audio commentary include locations used, the look of the film, working with Guy Hamilton, casting, stunts and the origins of this film project.
Other extras include a detailed and informative documentary about 1980’s action cinema titled ‘Remo, Rambo, Reagan and Reds: The Eighties Action Movie Explosion’ (66 minutes 33 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) that includes comments from directors Mark L. Lester, Sam Firstenberg, producers Larry Spiegel, Judy Goldstein, Donald P. Borchers, Garrick Dion, action cinema expert Bey Logan, film historian Howard S. Berger and professor / author of ‘Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era’ Susan Jeffords.
Rounding out the extras is reversible covert art and an essay about the film written by Barry Forshaw and an on-set report from American Cinematographer magazine. Overall Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video.