Retro Review: Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous

An officially deceased Police Officer is recruited by a small clandestine group who are in the service of the US President and he is trained to be a uniquely skilled assassin.

Synopsis: An officially deceased Police Officer is recruited by a small clandestine group who are in the service of the US President and he is trained to be a uniquely skilled assassin.

Review: In some territories, this movie was also known as ‘Remo Williams: Unarmed and Dangerous’ as well as ‘The Adventure Begins’ and was a straight to video released here in the UK during the mid-1980s. The film stars Fred Ward and Joel Grey as Remo and his Korean trainer Chiun and featured Kate Mulgrew before she found international fame as Captain Janeway on ‘Star Trek: Voyager’. Loosely based on ‘The Destroyer’ book series from writers Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. The film deviates a little from the books in how it goes about setting up the origin story and adds a lot more humor to the plot.


The Story

When a police officer is involved in a bizarre mugging and left for dead. He awakes to find himself with a brand new face and identity as he is recruited into a top-secret clandestine group whose mandate it is to assassinate anyone inside the Government system who cannot be brought to justice by traditional law enforcement. Suddenly Remo finds himself recruited by this group and has to train in an ancient martial art called Sinanju, which requires very good balance, lots of strength and dexterity, and allows the practitioner to dodge bullets with their finely honed senses. Remo’s trainer in this defensive fighting style is a grouchy Korean man by the name of Chuin who is not impressed with Remo and from the start says that he smells of hamburgers and moves like a pregnant yack.

Things get tricky when Remo, who is still in training is pressed into action to investigate and put an end to a private weapons manufacturer under government contract called George Grove. Things get more complicated when some of Groves’s weapons malfunction and seriously injure some soldiers, which gets the interest of Army Major. Rayner Fleming who crosses paths with Remo during her investigation.


The Acting

Fred Ward puts in a great performance as the smart-arsed Remo Williams, who starts off as a clumsy oaf and eventually trains up to a point where he is proficient in Sinanju. What makes this movie a pleasure to watch is the obvious chemistry between Fred Ward and his co-star Joel Grey. It’s obvious that the two guys are having an absolute hoot playing these roles. Though one black mark against this film is the fact that they didn’t use a Korean actor to play Chuin, which would have robbed us of Grey’s great performance but would have moved away from the practice of actors getting made up to look like someone of another race, which just would not happen in the same way now. Despite all that Joek Grey and Fred Ward work well together and it is the comedic banter and playful conflict between the two characters that helps the movie’s pacing.



Although still a very enjoyable film. ‘Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous’ doesn’t particularly age well. The movie suffers from a few awkward references to sexual politics of the day and a few of the offhand remarks and jokes with regard to Major Rayner Fleming. These scenes. Particularly the one where she takes her suspicions to her ranking officer comes off as clumsy and would potentially come off as borderline offensive to a modern audience despite the fact that the Major holds her own in the pecking order. But at least you can fast forward through those scenes without it ruining any enjoyment of the movie.

The stunt work is pretty solid throughout. Particularly the fight sequence, which takes place on and around the scaffolding which was on and around the statue of liberty. We also get some comedic and somewhat farfetched things such as when Remo runs across the wet concrete without sinking or getting stuck in it.

Overall. Remo is a solid action-comedy, which has a few great moments and a fun soundtrack, which is quite the earworm given that I can still remember it after 30 some odd years and reproduce it note for note. The film is also very much of its time given that social politics have moved on quite a lot since this was made.

Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Stunts
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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