This is a semi-regular feature I plan to do. Review some old movies that pretty much just came and went in the theaters, or maybe even went straight-to-dvd, that I think were really good, and need to be seen by more folks.
First up is 2001’s THE MUSKETEER.
If you have read the book, or seen any of the various film/tv adaptations that have been made throughout the past several decades, then you already know the basic story. Set during the time of France’s King Louis XIII, a young man named D’Artagnan travels to Paris, seeking to join the legendary Musketeers, and ends up uncovering a plot by the treacherous Cardinal Richeliue, to overthrow the King & Queen, and assume the throne for himself, with the aid of his evil eye-pactch wearing henchman, Febre. With the help of three Muskeeters, Aramis, Athos, and Porthos, D’Artagnan fights to stop the conspiracy, and save France.
Some of the minor details change throughout the various re-tellings, but that is pretty much the story here, and is easy to follow.
The thing that makes this particular film stand out to me, are the sword-fights. It is like nothing you have ever seen in a Musketeer film. Apparently they hired some expert stunt co-ordinator from multiple classic Chinese martial arts films to choreograph these fights, and it comes out incredible.
We’re talking about super-fast swordplay that looks real, despite the obvious improbabilty. You cannot even tell how much are the actors, and how much are stuntmen. Key fights are an early scene in a tavern, where D’Artagnan takes on three swordsman @ once, and the final climatic battle between him and Febre, which takes place partially on several tall ladders.
Justin Chambers stars as D’Artagnan, and therefor carries most of the film, and is featured in all of the fights. The man does a really great job, not only in the fights but just as an actor. I’m not familiar with this man, or his work (when I first saw the film, I thought he was Skeet Ulrich, because they look so much alike, in my opinion), but I’m surprised we don’t see him more often. Mena Suvari also does a fine job as a Lady In Waiting while Nick Moran, Steve Speirs, and Jan Gregor Kremp play the famous Musketeers rather well. Stephen Rea plays the treacherous Cardinal Richelieu, with an understated sneeer of villainy, which makes it believable that he could manage to fool so many into thinking he is noble (unlike other Musketeer films I have seen, in which the Cardinal is usually played as if he is so blatently evil that you’re left wondering why the King hasn’t had him executed already).
But the true star of this film is Tim Roth as Febre. Roth is a fantastic actor, especially when playing a bad guy. He’s jut born to be bad, and his Febre is bone-chillingly evil. Watch the scene where he sticks a knife to a little girl’s throat, and tell me you’re not convinced that he would kill her in a heartbeat.
So I highly recommend this film, not only if you’re a fan of The Three Musketeers, but also if you’re a fan of martial arts films. I think you’ll enjoy it. Two Thumbs Up!
The Muskateers can be rented via Nextflix or purchased via AMAZON.COM