The Musketeer Movie Review

And now the high-flying Hong Kong style of filmmaking has made its way down to the classics, and it isn't pretty. This time out the nod to Asia goes by way of France in the excruciating bland and lukewarm production of The Musketeer, a version of Dumas's The Three Musketeers. By bringing in popular Asian actor/stunt coordinator Xing Xing Xiong -- whose only prior American attempts at stunt choreography have been the laughable Van Damme vehicle Double Team and the Dennis Rodman cinematic joke Simon Sez -- our Musketeers are thrown into the air to do their fighting. The end result is a tepid and dull action/adventure rip-off that stinks of Indiana Jones and bad Asian kung fu.

The story is so simple my grandmother could have adapted the screenplay. D'Artagnan (Justin Chambers) is the vengeful son of a slain Musketeer. He travels to Paris to join the Royal Musketeers and find the man that killed his parents. In Paris, he meets the cunning Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), who is trying to overthrow the King, and Richelieu's man-in-black associate Febre (Tim Roth), the killer of his folks. He finds the Musketeers in Paris disbanded and drunk, so he rounds up Aramis (Nick Moran), Athos (Jan Gregor Kremp) and Porthos (Steven Spiers) to free the Musketeer's wrongfully imprisoned leader Treville from the King's prison. D'Artagnan and his new frisky love interest/chambermaid Francesca (Mena Suvari) play footsy and coo at each other as the Cardinal hunts down the Musketeers until finally the Queen (Catherine Deneuve) ends up being captured by the menancing Febre, forcing the Musketeers to regroup, with D'Artagnan leading the charge, and save the day.

Director Peter Hyams (End of Days) obviously wanted to blend eastern and western filmmaking styles, but here it's a disaster. One problem is that, in reality, most eastern films have taken their lead from western ones. Jet Li's High Risk is a rip-off of Die Hard -- not the other way around. Ironically, there is awfully little swordplay or action in the film at all -- maybe ten minutes of swashbuckling spread over five scenes. Most Asian action films carry the bulk of their production with 20- to 30-minute action sequences, because they know the scenes have to carry the picture.

The Musketeer instead weighs itself down with a predictable and monotonous screenplay by Gene Quintano (Sudden Death), horrible acting by Stephen Rea and Tim Roth, and the prosaic attempt of Justin Chambers (The Wedding Planner) to deliver his mousy self as a leader. Chambers' D'Artangnan isn't a Musketeer -- he's a Mouseketeer! And Hyam's use of candles and torches to light the grime and filth of 17th century Paris are well-noted, but that's the only standout in an overall flat production.

Roll out the barrel... the barrel of fun!


The Musketeer Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2001


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