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Universal Studios Home Video presents
The Musketeer (2001)

Febre: What if I absolutely must kill some one?Richelieu: If you must, you must.
- Tim Roth, Stephen Rea

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 26, 2002

Stars: Justin Chambers, Tim Roth, Mena Suvari
Other Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Stephen Rea, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Nick Moran, Steven Spiers, Jan Gregor Kremp, Max Dolbey
Director: Peter Hyams

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense action, violence and some sexual material
Run Time: 01h:44m:18s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 025192176524
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C-A-B D

DVD Review

The Musketeer is accomplished action director Peter Hyams (End Of Days, The Relic, Outland) stab at combining the surreal martial arts elements of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the traditional swashbuckler. The idea is engaging enough, and Hyams' use of Time And Tide's stunt choreographer Xin Xin Xiong would seem to be the link he needed to succeed. True enough, Xin Xin Xiong does create some memorable, if not far-fetched, fight scenes, but the rest of the film never generates enough heart to draw the viewer in.Hyams opens his treatment of the Alexandre Dumas classic in 17th century France with young D'Artagnan (Max Dolbey) witnessing the murder of his parents at the hand of the evil Febre (Tim Roth), but not before the young boy can inflict a wicked sword wound on Febre's face. The orphaned boy is then raised by the bear-sized Planchet (Jean-Pierre Castaldi), who vows to train D'Artagnan to become a master swordsman, as well as a Musketeer.The story then jumps ahead 14 years, and D'Artagnan (now played by Justin Chambers) is still under the tutelage of Planchet. The pair arrive in Paris to serve the King, but find the city in disarray with the Musketeers having fallen under bad times, and practically disbanded. All of the problems stem from the villainous Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), who is working behind the King's back to cause a violent revolution. Amidst all of this familiar drama is an increasingly dull romance between D'Artagnan and cute chambermaid Francesca (Mena Suvari).The action sequences are what serve to make Hyams' film different, and as preposterous as they are, they are enjoyable. Whether it's a sword fight atop some rolling wine barrels, or from ropes dangling from a high tower, Xin Xin Xiong's choreography is well executed. Some of the moves will seem familiar, like the ones that are borrowed from Raiders Of The Lost Ark during the stagecoach fight sequence. The climactic battle between Febre and D'Artagnan takes place on a series of teetering ladders, and though the silliness factor is very high, the finished product is fun to watch.I'm sure I'm not the only one who wondered why Justin Chambers character is the only Musketeer without an accent. He doesn't come close to having the swagger of Errol Flynn, and that's where part of The Musketeer is derailed. All action films need a charismatic lead, and Chambers never cuts it. Roth and Rea get to chew up the scenery as the villains, and ageless goddess Catherine Denueve's small role as The Queen proves she still can exude sex appeal.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Universal's 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer of Hyams' film is consistently very good. Blemish-free, this film is layered in deep golds and reds, which appear to be reproduced accurately here, along with solid black levels. Much of the action takes place either by candlelight or in some type of shadowy room, or at night for that matter, and those sequences retain a sharp clarity and crispness. No noticeable grain and very little compression issues to be found.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: This disc includes English 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS mixes. Both mixes are focused across the fronts, with minimal rear channel cues. Directional imaging is very sparse, with is surprising in a film that features such an abundance of galloping hooves and clanging swords. As a result, the overall soundfield is relatively lifeless. Bass is deep and resonant, though the DTS track seems to emphasize thump and rumble over clarity. Some of the dialogue is not mixed nearly as clean as one would expect.A French 5.1 track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: A pair of short behind-the-scenes featurettes, totaling less than five minutes altogether, do not offer any significant information or insight. The Stunts (02m:41s) focuses, rather briefly, on Hyams intent to interject a Hong Kong style into his adventure yarn. Casting Justin Chambers (01m:53s) is virtually identical to the other short, and provides some fluffy background on how the lead actor was selected.A theatrical trailer, English subtitles, 18 chapters and run-of-the-mill DVD-ROM extras are the only other supplementals.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A noble effort by Peter Hyams, with his attempt to give an influx of the Hong Kong action cinema sensibility into the traditional Musketeer adventure genre. A handful of thrilling stunts and a wonderfully nasty villain played by Tim Roth cannot pad the predictably familiar storyline.


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