Originally, Joel Gray was extremely reluctant to accept to the role of Chiun and refused several times, stating that he simply was the wrong actor for the part and couldn't pass for an elderly Korean. After several offers and refusals, Joel Gray proffered a deal in which if Carl Fullerton, the make-up artist could make him up convincingly as an 80-year old Korean, then he would accept the role. Fullerton accepted and after seeing the result, Gray accepted the role.
In 1988, there was an attempt to create a television series that would have followed the continuing adventures of Remo Williams. A television pilot was shot with Jeffrey Meek as Remo Williams, Roddy McDowall as Chiun, and Stephen Elliott as Harold W. Smith and incorporated footage from the movie itself. However, this project never managed to make it beyond the pilot episode stage.
Several of the actors who auditioned for the role of Remo Williams actually professed to be proficient in the art of Sinanju, the martial arts taught to Remo by Chiun. Apparently, they were unaware that this particular style of martial arts was entirely fictional.
The movie and the characters are actually based upon a popular series of pulp fiction novels co-created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir that debuted in 1971 known as "The Destroyer". However, it was believed that titling the movie as the Destroyer would have negative connotations resulting in the Remo Williams title instead.