Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGuy Hamilton
Screenplay byChristopher Wood
Based onThe Destroyer
by Warren Murphy
and Richard Sapir
Produced byLarry Spiegel
CinematographyAndrew Laszlo
Edited byMark Melnick
Music byCraig Safan
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • October 11, 1985 (1985-10-11)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$14.4 million[2]

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, also released as Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous, is a 1985 American action-adventure film directed by Guy Hamilton. The film featured Fred Ward, Joel Grey, J. A. Preston, Wilford Brimley, and Kate Mulgrew.

The character is based on The Destroyer pulp paperback series, featuring the character Remo Williams. It fared poorly in theaters and received mixed reviews from critics, although it did earn Joel Grey a Golden Globe nomination. The film and a Remo Williams television pilot both credited Dick Clark as executive producer. The film was supposed to be the first of a series based on The Destroyer series of novels.[3] A significant setpiece within the film takes place at the Statue of Liberty, which was surrounded by scaffolding for its centenary restoration during this period.


Sam Makin is a tough Brooklyn, New York City street cop and Vietnam-era Marine Corps veteran. He is unwillingly recruited as an assassin for a secret United States organization, CURE. The recruitment is through a bizarre method: his death is faked and he is given a new face and a new name. Rechristened "Remo Williams" (after the name and location of the manufacturer of the bedpan in Makin's hospital room), his face is surgically altered and he is trained to be a human killing machine by his aged, derisive and impassive Korean martial arts master Chiun.

Though Remo's training is extremely rushed by Chiun's standards, Remo learns seemingly impossible skills such as dodging bullets and running on water and wet cement. Chiun teaches Remo the Korean martial art named "Sinanju". Remo's instruction is interrupted when he is sent by CURE to investigate a corrupt weapons procurement program within the US Army.




Orion Pictures, a studio run by the people who had previously been executives at United Artists, was open about their vision for the film, seeing it as the first in a series that would create "a red, white and blue-collar Bond".[3] They signed Ward to star in three movies in the envisioned series.[3]

Orion hired veterans of the Bond series to work on the film, English director Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Live and Let Die) and screenwriter Christopher Wood (Moonraker, The Spy who Loved Me).


For the Statue of Liberty scenes, a replica of the Statue's torso, head and arm was built in Mexico. The shots of the replica were intercut with footage shot at the real Statue of Liberty.

On the casting of the white actor Joel Grey, who went through four and a half hours of make-up every day to look like an elderly Korean, producer Larry Spiegel claimed "We assumed, of course, that we would be using an oriental actor. We couldn't find one and then I thought of Grey."[4] This casting was highly controversial.[5]

Ward performed most of the stunts himself including the scene on the giant ferris wheel shot on the Wonder Wheel located at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn.[3]

"I don't like to intellectualize a role," said Ward. "I just think there are a lot of places to go with Remo. His relationship with Chiun has just begun."[3]


The soundtrack features an instrumental score written by composer Craig Safan, released by Perseverance Records on CD on August 7, 2006 and later reissued by Intrada Records. However, the title song, Remo's Theme (What If), written and sung by Styx member Tommy Shaw, is not included on that album. Shaw released the song as a solo artist on his 1985 album What If.


Critical reception

The film received generally negative reviews from critics.[6][7][8]

The LA Times noted that Hamilton and Wood's end result while "downplaying the violence and uplifting the humor, have delivered a welcome and breezy alternative to the mayhem and genocide of Rambo and Commando."[3] Hopes for a series were dashed when the box office results were disappointing, earning only $3.4 million in 1,170 theaters in its first four days.[3]

On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 39% based on 18 reviews.[9]

Box office

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... opened on October 11, 1985 and earned $3,376,971 in its opening weekend, ranking #4 at the United States box office.[10] By the end of its run, the film grossed $14,393,902 in the domestic box office.[2] This dashed hopes for a series.

In an interview screenwriter Christopher Wood expressed his opinion of why the film did not succeed at the box office. He questioned the choice of Fred Ward who he thought was a good actor but not leading man material, saying he thought Ed Harris who was up for the role might have had more appeal. He went on to say "I had also written a slam bang action finale that was cut for budgetary reasons. That didn’t help."[11]


The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Makeup at the 58th Academy Awards, but lost to Mask.


  1. ^ "REMO UNARMED AND DANGEROUS (15) (!)". British Board of Film Classification. February 13, 1986. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jack Mathews (October 18, 1985). "Will the Adventure Go On for Remo Williams?". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Julia Cameron (October 13, 1985). "Joel Grey Masters Oriental Character for Role in 'Remo'". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ OUTTAKES: OUTTAKES Kim, Sophia. Los Angeles Times2 Dec 1984: w25.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (October 11, 1985). "Movie Review 'Remo Williams' Lets Fun (slam-bang) Begin". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  7. ^ "Remo Williams': A Flawed Mix Of Rambo, Bond And Bruce Lee Movie Review". Morning Call. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  8. ^ "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins". Variety. December 31, 1984. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  9. ^ "Remo Williams - The Adventure Begins (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  10. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 11-13, 1985". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. October 14, 1985. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Stuart Basinger. "A Conversation With Christopher Wood". Shatterhand007.