« Smallville - Stray - 04/16/02 | Main | The Scorpion King »

April 25, 2002

The Musketeer

The Musketeer a.k.a. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Croissant

Alexandre Dumas must be drilling himself halfway to China by now. The Musketeer is quite possibly the worst adaptation Iíve ever seen, riddled with bland acting, bad scripting and even worse directing. For the nitpickers like myself, itís also chock full of historical and literary inaccuracies.

From the very opening credits, I had a bad feeling about the movie. Youíd think with a budget of $40 million they could have come up with something better than uninspired titles superimposed on grainy still shots from the film. It was all very ABC movie of the week.

In the opening scene, young Díartagnan, son of a former Musketeer, has his parents killed in front of him by a sadistic henchman of Cardinal Richelieu named Febre (Tim Roth phoning in a bad copy of his role in Rob Roy). Despite slashing Febre in the eye, the men ride off and do not kill Díartagnan. Of course not, for who would travel to Paris to avenge his parents fourteen years later?

Fourteen years later, Díartagnan is now played by underwear model Justin Chambers. He and his mentor Planchett arrive in Paris. There he finds that the Musketeers have been disbanded, there is an evil plot to dethrone the King of France, he meets and falls in love with a hottie, yadda yadda yadda. The plot is so thin itís nearly transparent, and the acting so abysmally flat that I couldnít care less what happened.

Díartagnanís love interest is renamed Francesca (as opposed to Constance in the novel) and played by Mena Suvari, who is obviously using the same phone as Tim Roth. She came over from Spain with the Queen, but somehow ended up working as a chambermaid in her lecherous Uncleís inn. She and Díartagnan have a fantastically boring love affair. What else could it be with Chambers delivering such lines as ìWhen you look at me like that, I don't know what to say,î in a tone of voice more suited to ìI think I left the stove on.î

The remaining three Musketeers were a group of actors I had trouble distinguishing. That one was Porthos, oh wait, maybe heís Aramis. No, heís fat; he has to be Porthos. You get the idea. In any case, all the secondary characters fade into the background, and probably thankfully so, just waiting for the paycheck to come in.

There are a few cameos by well-known actors, such as Catherine Deneuve, who provides the one bit of spark from an actor. Although she is far too old to be playing Queen Anne (who would have been 24 years-old historically), Deveuve valiantly plays her as a spunky no nonsense woman. The part where she dresses as a servant and brains a guy with a bottle is one of the best in the film.

Xin-Xin Xiong, noted Hong Kong fight choreographer is responsible for most of the action scenes in this movie. They are, without a doubt, not your average swashbuckling swordfights. There is a lot of wire work and incredible acrobatics, but even that wasnít enough to elevate this movie out of the dregs. Many, if not all, of the fight scenes are lifted directly from other Hong Kong action films, like Once Upon a Time in China. Rent one of those instead.

I donít know how The Musketeer ended, I was nodding off at what seemed like the two-hour mark (the film is only 88 minutes long) and went to bed with 20 minutes left to go. That about sums it up, I just didnít care enough about this movie to be bothered staying awake for a little longer.

If you're really interested in seeing Jackie Chan meets Douglas Fairbanks fight scenes, wait for it on cable. Then tape it and fast foward through the rest.

Posted by Anne at April 25, 2002 1:26 PM