Going Underground – Rediscovering ‘Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous’ (US 1985 – 121 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - June 19, 2015
Going Underground – Rediscovering ‘Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous’ (US 1985 – 121 mins)

In my teens I was never into the extensive supply of explosive action movies. Watching the antics of Van Damme or Segal didn’t really appeal to me. A handful that I did enjoy were Schwarzenegger’s ‘Terminator’ (’84) and the high-rise favourite ‘Die Hard’ (’88). But another movie that grew to be a guilty pleasure was the 1985 comic book actioner ‘Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous’, an enjoyable adventure with its tongue firmly resting in its cheek.

After having his death faked, New York cop Ed Makin (Fred Ward) is reluctantly recruited by a mysterious government organization to act as their assassin, and fight against corruption for the good of the country. Taken in by a proverb-loving Korean called Chiun (Joel Grey) and now known as Remo Williams, he is given a crash course in survival and spiritualism before being assigned to track down an unscrupulous arms dealer.

Based on the pulp comic novels ‘The Destroyer’ by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, ‘Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous’ has rightly developed a cult following since its release, and fans have been waiting for the teasingly promised sequel ever since. As well as the entertaining scenes of Remo’s unorthodox training, the highlight of the picture for me is the breath-taking sequence on the statue of liberty, which made perfect use of the scaffolding due to the extensive renovations which were going on at the time. It’s an exciting scene which has Remo being chased down by a vicious hired gang, resulting in some elaborate stunt work on the famous landmark.

Likable tough guy Fred Ward should have become a popular action star after this, but perhaps he didn’t want to go down that route. He did have another hit later on though when he co-starred with Kevin Bacon in the excellent sci-fi favourite ‘Tremors’, a film with an even bigger fan base. Joel Grey was great fun as Remo’s bullet-dodging mentor; Chiun. I was not aware of this Oscar-winning actor at the time and I actually thought he was from Korea; he was that convincing. ‘Cocoon’s Wilford Brimley turns up as the mysterious head of the agency, and a pre-Star Trek Kate Mulgrew makes an impression as a savvy army major and possible love interest for Remo.

The movie had a seasoned director in Guy Hamilton, who had earlier made four Bond movies (’64-’74) and the acclaimed war picture ‘Battle of Britain’ (’69). He also claimed to have re-written Christopher Wood’s screenplay and added the Statue of Liberty chase scene when he noticed it was being renovated.

Although it clocks in at two hours, ‘Remo’ doesn’t out stay its welcome. It’s both comedic and action-packed, and being pre-CGI relies purely on master stunt work to accomplish its many action-filled moments. Todays teens may find the movie silly (the ‘running on air’ scene does defy belief) and occasionally boring, but for viewers of a certain age it’s a fun way to spend a couple of dumbed-down hours.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *