His name is Remo Williams, and Shane Black will be directing his movie adaptation.
Writer/director Black is already working on adapting the 1930s-era classic hero Doc Savage to the big screen for Sony, and he just signed on to direct an adaptation of the long-running men’s adventure novel series The Destroyer. Black will only be directing this one, working fro a screenplay by Fight Club adapter Jim Uhls.
For the uninitiated, The Destroyer started off in the 1970s as just another in a sea of novel series that saw their heroes through adventures that tried to out-James Bond James Bond. Created by Richard Sapir and William Murphy, the Destroyer was Remo Williams, a cop whose framed and sentenced to die as part of his recruitment into a super top secret spy organization consisting of just one other person and whose existence is known only to the president. Since he is needed to be the ultimate assassin, Remo undergoes continual training from Chiun, the Korean master of Sinanju, the martial art from which all others are derived. The first several books in the series are fairly standard stuff, but as the series progressed, Murphy and Sapir started addingd a commmical and satirical spin to the books that made them stand out against the crowd.
Deadline spoke with the project’s producer Charles Roven, who stated –
Shane has been a fan of the original Destroyer book series since its inception and he has an incredible vision for this film. [We] couldn’t be more fortunate to be working with this talented director on this material. The narrative Jim and James have created is incredibly rich and while it’s a story rooted in adventure, it is also very much character driven.
That Black and Uhls are concentrating on characters is good as much of the novel’s comedic tone stems from the relationship he has with Chiun.
There have been previous attempts to bring Remo Williams to the screen before. Back in 1985, Fred Ward starred as the titular hero in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Obviously, they were hoping to launch a franchise with the film, but Christopher Woods’ script was a bit too campy for audiences and critics, though the film’s fight on the Statue of Liberty, lifted from an unproduced James Bond script, is pretty nifty. The film did get an Academy Award nomination for Carl Fullerton’s makeup which transformed Joel Grey into Remo’s Korean mentor Chiun. A television pilot was produced a few years later that was hoped to bring Remo to the small screen on a weekly basis, but it was never picked up.
It’s been years, OK probably more like decades, since I’ve read a Destroyer novel, but back in high school and college, I devoured a goodly number of the first hundred or so in the series. (The series now sports 150 titles.) There were fun, breezy reads and I think Black’s sensibilities line up with the books fairly well. Should be interesting to see how this develops.