Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Time - MURPHY'S LAW and REMO WILLIAMS on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twilight Time - MURPHY'S LAW and REMO WILLIAMS on Blu-ray

MURPHY'S LAW (1986; J. Lee Thompson)
In the early stages of my time as a movie fan, before I was conscious and following the careers of directors, I was all about actors. Particularly action movie actors. At this point, I can't recall if it started with Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson or Bruce Lee - but they were all a really big deal to me when I was a teenager. My local video emporium was actually a large grocery store with a burgeoning selection of VHS tapes. They were all about the MGM stuff for sure as I found they had a seemingly endless supply of Cannon Films content. Once I started down the Bronson route, I didn't stop until I'd seen everything they had on their shelves. I got so into Chuck that by the time I was caught up, he had a new movie in theaters - KINJITE: THE FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS - which I believe I snuck into and which I found a bit disturbing. What's happened over time though is that a lot of Bronson's 80s films have started to run together. Sure, DEATH WISH 3 stands out in my memory, but that's only because I had taped it off TV and watched it over and over. The others, like MURPHY'S LAW and MESSENGER OF DEATH don't stand out quite as well in my memory, but only because I'm getting older and not directly related to their quality. So once I popped in this Blu-ray, it all started to come back. It's a somewhat familiar tale - Bronson is a cop in Los Angeles who is going through a rough patch (divorce etc) and hitting the bottle pretty hard.
One thing that stood out this time for me was the supporting cast. I may not have seen this movie in something like thirty years, so I'm a lot more familiar with a lot more actors now. When I see Robert F. Lyons, Carrie Snodgress, Richard Romanus and others now - as an older film buff - I recognize them immediately and get excited to see them in an ensemble. Also featured prominently is actress Kathleen Wilhoite, who is given an "introducing" credit despite it not being her first film (she was also in PRIVATE SCHOOL back in 1983 as well as a bunch of TV movies). MURPHY'S LAW is also one of many collaborations between Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson - they even did the aforementioned MESSENGER OF DEATH and KINJITE together. Thompson and Bronson were quite the duo for Cannon Films and this is one of their more enjoyable efforts together. It's basically a story of an ex-con (Snodgress) getting revenge on the cop (Bronson) who put her behind bars and the reluctant team-up between the cop and a petty criminal (Wilhoite) to sort things out. As a post-DEATH WISH movie for Bronson (though he would do DEATH WISH IV: THE CRACKDOWN with J. Lee Thompson the next year), MURPHY'S LAW ain't bad at all and would pair well with the much sleazier 10 TO MIDNIGHT which was also directed by Thompson and has also been released on Blu-ray via Twilight Time.

Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Actress Kathleen Wilhoite and Film Historian Nick Redman
-Isolated Score Track
-Original Theatrical Trailer
You can buy MUPRHY'S LAW from Twilight Time here:
or Amazon.
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REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS (1985; Guy Hamilton)
Speaking of video stores again - there are some movies from the 80s that would be completely lost were it not for the fact that many youngsters (myself included) stumbled across them in our quest for more action movies to watch. At the time I first saw it, I had no idea who Fred Ward was and the novelty of Guy Hamilton (who did several James Bond films) directing the movie was totally lost on me. All that was apparent was that this ex-cop (Ward) was being inducted into a spy organization and trained by a small but effective (and funny) martial arts master (Joel Grey). Having been an adamant fan of THE KARATE KID a few years prior (another one that my family taped off TV and watched many many times), I was more than intrigued by the prospect of martial arts training in general and said training being used to fight evil Russian spies. After all, the Cold War was still going and I had been weaned on other propagandistic 80s cinematic treasures like RED DAWN, WAR GAMES and ROCKY IV, so this underdog squaring off against some big time bad guys story was right up my alley. Because REMO WILLIAMS was subtitled "THE ADVENTURE BEGINS", I also was hoping for further episodes with this new super spy. Alas, it was not to be and any follow-up movies went the way of BUCKAROO BANZAI AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE and never came to pass. But Remo himself had entered the lexicon of my favorite wise-cracking 80s heroes along Jack Burton and John Matrix.
One thing I liked about the movie was they it felt like a super hero origin story in a lot of ways. Remo goes from being a relatively ordinary man to a man with extraordinary abilities and body control. He learns to defend himself without weapons and even learned how to dodge bullets (which I thought was pretty cool when I was a kid watching it). Part of the reason I probably responded to the story was that it had the feeling of setting up some kind of mythology about it. I would later find out that this was due in no small part to the film being based on one in a series of books about Remo. The DESTROYER series was written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. The first novel they wrote was published in 1971, but was apparently completed in around 1963. This is fascinating only because REMO WILLIAMS having come out when it did made it feel affectionately retro in its spy story roots - when in fact it was conceived during s time when James Bond fever was starting to grip the world. Remo Williams couldn't be more different than 007 though as he oafishly and naively fumbles his way through his training and his first encounters with his rivals. While it's not a spy spoof exactly, the film definitely draws out some humor while also calling upon the inherent drama of a guy who doesn't know exactly what he's doing and could seemingly be killed at any moment. Despite REMO having both feet planted sqaurely in the 80s in terms of its politics, aesthetics and musical score (by the wonderful Craig Safan), I am of the belief that the film can and will find new fans in this day and age when goofball heroes like Peter Quill headline some of the most popular movies at the box office.
Special Features:
-Audio Commentary with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer, and Paul Scrabo
- Created, The Destroyer: Writing Remo Williams

-Unarmed and Dangerous: Producing Remo Williams
-Secrets of Sinanju: Training Remo Williams
-Balance of Power: Designing Remo Williams
-Assassin's Tune: Composing Remo Williams
-Isolated Score Track
-Original Theatrical Trailer
You can Buy REMO WILLIAMS from Twilight Time here:
http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/remo-williams-the-adventure-begins-blu-ray/
or Amazon.
Amazon Button (via NiftyButtons.com)

1 comment:

Dennis said...

I trreasure Remo. I watched it on the big screen in 85 at least three times in a row and laughed a lot with the interaction of Ward and Grey. The statue of Liberty sequence is classic in my book!