Eastern fighting style revamps The Musketeer

Eastern and Western fighting styles collide in the new acrobatic version of the Alexandre Dumas’ story, “The Three Musketeers.” The result is comparable to watching Jackie Chan with a sword and a French accent.

The Musketeer (Universal Pictures) takes the traditional tale and adds a twist of fancy footwork. Gymnastic battles add just enough spice to make it worth watching. The film hovers on the line of believability, but just manages to stay in the realm of the realistic.

Set in 17th century France, the film follows young D’Artagnon on his quest to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Musketeer for the king. D’Artagnon (Justin Chambers), sets out with his mentor, Planchet, to find Porthos, Aramis and Athos (Nick Morgan, Steve Spiers and Jan Gregor Kremp), the leaders of the Musketeers.

He is disappointed upon arrival in Paris, finding the Musketeers drunk, disheveled and on suspension. Their captain has been wrongfully imprisoned for murder, and there is no one to protect the king. D’Artagnon attempts to persuade the Musketeers to fight back, but only Aramis and Porthos offer to help.

The French government has been corrupted by Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea), who secretly has plans to take power away from the king with the help of the blood-thirsty Febre, aptly played by Tim Roth (Planet of the Apes).

With the Musketeers out of commission, the only one who stands in their way is the brazen Queen (Catherine Deneuve). D’Artagnon swears to protect her with the help of his love interest, a peasant girl named Francesca, played by Mena Suvari (American Beauty). The love story between the two is for the most part uninspiring, with the occasional cute moment.

D’Artagnon is the base of the story, but his character is too weak to carry the rest of the film. His ego and self-absorption is neither admirable nor interesting, making him just dull.

The highlights of the film are British actor Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), who plays Aramis, and Deneuve (Tristana), a French icon. They are responsible for the film’s few moments of humor.

Most of the movie’s weaknesses result from a script that lacks flavor. Much of the dialogue seems cheesy and out of place for 17th century France. Director Peter Hyams (End of Days) makes up for what lacks in the script with beautiful cinematography in depicting southern France, and by creating wholly entertaining action scenes.

Hong Kong choreographer Xin Xin Xiong (Once Upon a Time in China) helped create highly imaginative and intricate battle scenes that are not overdone. Xiong manages to contain the choreography enough so that suspending disbelieve was not necessary.

The stunt choreography and talented international supporting cast balance out D’Artagnon’s dullness. The Musketeer has its entertaining moments and is probably worth seeing, but don’t run to the ticket line too fast.

The Musketeer is in theaters Friday

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