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The Musketeer

Hidden dragons meet frogs' legs in Universal and Miramax's little-seen fall 2001 release The Musketeer. High-flying stunts are grafted onto the latest version of the particularly French story, derived from Alexandre Dumas' much-filmed series of novels about a quartet of swordsmen fighting for the King's honor in 17th century France. But though lacking the high-power casting of even Leonardo DiCaprio's recent Musketeer movie The Man in the Iron Mask, this effort boasts stunt work from Xin-Xin Xiong in the style of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film consists of the usual, if youth-oriented, elements, starting with Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), who with his army of Cardinal's guards brings new meaning to the phrase "muscular Christianity." Director Peter Hyams (End of Days) and credited screenwriter Gene Quintano (Operation Dumbo Drop) come up with a streamlined story about little D'Artagnan growing up to seek vengeance for the death of his father at the hands of the violent tax collector Febre (Tim Roth, once again playing the villain of the piece, and who gets off a few dastardly lines). Assisted by family friend Planchet (Jean-Pierre Castaldi), D'Artagnan grows up to be Calvin Klein model Justin Chambers, while Planchet fails to grow any older at all. We watch along as D'Artagnan , in his quest to kill Febre, hooks up with the other three Musketeers, an anonymous trio of English-accented foils (Nick Moran, Steven Spiers, Jan Gregor Kremp), while Cardinal Richelieu conspires to fan the flames of war between England, France, and Spain. This is meant to be accomplished by somehow embarrassing the King in front of the visiting, peace-seeking Lord Buckingham. Meanwhile, D'Artagnan falls for Francesca Bonacieux (an unconvincing Mena Suvari). And Catherine Deneuve, as Queen Anne, is in the movie for about nine minutes (she also receives top billing). The Musketeer progresses predictably to its final confrontation between hero and villain, but in the end it bears little comparison with even the DiCaprio film, and it shares even less with the gold standard of the Musketeer genre, Richard Lester's two films from the '70s. What distinguishes this one is Xiong's stunt work, but it is a little odd to see purported Frenchmen flying through the air in floppy, feathered hats and buccaneer boots. There are five action scenes in the film, and each would have been quite exciting if the viewer had cared about any of the characters. And frankly, the genre's hallmarks don't seem all that present — there are some bits with ropes and ladders, but that's about it. Universal's The Musketeer offers a sometimes soft-looking anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with enveloping DTS and Digital Dolby 5.1 audio, as well as English closed-captioning and subtitles. Added value consists of "The Stunts," a brief, trailer-dependent look at the action sequences, and "Casting Justin Chambers," a two-minute trailer-marbled featurette about the former soap opera star and his dedication to the role (and which still manages to repeat interview footage from the other featurette). Also on hand are the theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew credits, the usual Universal DVD newsletter ad, and DVD-ROM features. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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