Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies 5/18/13!

Who cares what picture we see?

As my future avatar - I can tell you with absolute veracity that Wilford Brimley most certainly does - and that is why we'll pick this one...

I had avoided all of the books in the series called The Destroyer, figuring them to be bad rip offs of Don Pendelton's fun series The Executioner. Then this movie came out - and for various reasons, not least of which was the presence of four time 007 helmer Guy Hamilton as the director - I went to see this in the theater.

I enjoyed the story, and picked up a couple of the books in a used bookstore. There were around 70 of them at the time, and I discovered they were amazingly entertaining books. Action, fantasy, satire, and two incredible and funny main characters in Remo Williams  - America's Assassin Who Doesn't Exist - and his Korean trainer Chiun. I have since read nearly all of the books (there was a brief run of new books a couple of years ago and I still have three stacked up, savoring them - and there are some new E-books I'm working on picking up). At last count there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 or so.  I highly recommend the books. My old buddy Richard had dismissed them much like I had - then read one somewhere in or after college - and now he's hooked as well.

But we're here to talk about the movie. What? I digressed? You must be joking. I have to be honest. As an adaptation it's not great. Fred Ward tries hard and is okay - but he's miscast. So is spy bossman Wilford Brimley. But then there's Chiun - who is handled pretty damn well - if a little young. (The Chiun of the books is in his 80's). We'll get back to Chiun in a minute. The other actors - Charles Cioffi, Michael Pataki, Kate Mulgrew, Patrick Kilpatrick - are all fun and bring some good stuff to the table.

The movie has some good setpieces - but the biggest complaint is that the villain - a corporate raider/arms manufacturer played by Cioffi - just isn't big or grandiose enough. They needed to channel their inner Bond villain - and they let us down.

But there's Chiun. And here's the really amazing thing about Chiun - and the actor who played him. In 1986.

The Korean martial arts master was played by Cabaret star Joel Grey - a Caucasian actor in an amazing makeup job by Carl Fullerton. And no one complained!!! Well, much, anyway.

Chiun and Remo Williams

Chiun's portrayer: Joel Grey - sans makeup.

So, I can't tell you the movie is great - even series creators Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir didn't like it - but I have a very real fondness for it anyway - and as such will watch it anytime, even tonight, if you want to come by and fire up the Roku player to stream it on Netflix with me!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Remo Williams, God I barely remember that film. I must say that makeup on Joel is fierce. I did recognize him at all. I might have to check this out, though I never even knew there were Remo Williams books. I stupidly thought it was a Bond parody.

    1. Definitely check them out - you can pick up cheap ebook editions at Amazon...