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MUSKETEER, THE


SYNOPSIS:
As a child, musketeer's son D'Artagnan (Justin Chambers) witnesses the murder of his parents at the sword of Febre (Tim Roth), the sadistic leader of guards loyal to Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea). Some 14 years later D'Artagnan travels to Paris, determined to become a musketeer serving King Louis XIII. After discovering that Richelieu has disbanded the King's musketeers and is attempting to provoke war with England and Spain, D'Artagnan is joined by musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis who help him save the monarchy and take revenge on Febre.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Landing in cinemas un-previewed by critics and largely unannounced (other than a few newspaper ads) is this not-bad adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas perennial. You could heave a sigh and wonder why anyone would bother filming yet another visit to 17th century France with D'Artagnan and his pals but this one at least has something fresh to offer in the fight scenes.

We're all here to watch overdressed guys with feathered hats and long hair indulge in swordplay, tavern brawls and general leaping about. Thanks to crack Chinese choreographer Xiong Xin Xin this delivers where it counts. There's more than a hint of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and any number of Hong Kong actioners (Iron Monkey and Fong Sai-Yuk come to mind) about the spectacular mid-air flips and creative use of props (barrels and ladders in particular) in the action sequences that makes this worth a look.

The cast isn't bad, either, with Stephen Rea and Tim Roth supplying good villainy, Catherine Deneuve enjoying a nice easy payday as a Queen who knows how to use firearms and newcomer Justin Chambers lively and handsome as D'Artagnan. Only a slightly awkward-looking Mena Suvari doesn't quite fit in as D'Artagnan's squeeze Francesca. Attractively filmed in 'scope by director/cameraman Peter Hyams, The Musketeer isn't essential viewing but for a reasonably high-spirited romp you could do a lot worse.

Financed and filmed in the The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, this has the feel of a tax-incentive film, especially with package artists Mark Damon and Moshe Diamant's names among the 9 producers credited. Many of these projects end up being good for accountants and bad for audiences; here we get our money's worth from a good rendition of an old warhorse that may not soar but keeps us entertained.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MUSKETEER, THE (M)
(Ger/Lux/US)

CAST: Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth, Justin Chambers

DIRECTOR: Peter Hyams

PRODUCER: Rudy Cohen, Moshe Diamant

SCRIPT: Gene Quintano (Alexandre Dumas book)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Hyams

EDITOR: Terry Rawlings

MUSIC: David Arnold

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Harrison

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2002







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