Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Do you suppose that the star of The Musketeer knew that Once Upon a Time in China was about to be rereleased when deciding to borrow its most famous bit for Hollywood’s latest version of The Three Musketeers? The movie’s star, as you may have guessed, is not former male model Justin Chambers, who’s an absolute zero as the title character, youthful would-be musketeer D’Artagnan. Nor is it teen-flick princess Mena Suvari, who’s never been worse than she is as Francesca, the fleabag-hotel chambermaid who just happens to be pals with the queen (Catherine Deneuve!). It’s also not Tim Roth, whose Febré is the gleeful sociopath who killed D’Artagnan’s parents 14 years earlier while the boy watched—and the latest retread of Roth’s Rob Roy role. And it’s certainly neither Stephen Rea, as conniving Cardinal Richelieu, nor Jeremy Clyde—late of Chad and Jeremy, the Merseybeat duo that didn’t benefit from having a sister who dated Paul McCartney—as British ambassador Lord Buckingham. No, the movie’s principal luminary is veteran Hong Kong fight choreographer Xin Xin Xiong, who summons more expression from a roomful of dancing ladders than director-cinematographer Peter Hyams does from his mismatched cast. The ladder sequence is borrowed from the climax of Once Upon a Time in China, which Xiong also staged, but he does a creditable job of updating it with some new twists. Alas, Hyams insisted on shooting the whole film in torch- and candlelit semidarkness, which somewhat obscures Xiong’s work. Given that its action scenes are The Musketeer’s only strength, it would have made more sense to have spotlighted the movements and somehow obscured the anachronistic dialogue and the overly broad or simply inept line readings. —Mark Jenkins