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observation notes: 3 Musketeers

It isn't often we get a straight-up action film - no mutated creatures, no sci-fi elements, no natural or unnatural disasters, just a good, old-fashioned, explosive shoot-em-up - from The Asylum; Ballistica they only distributed, and other than that you got The 9/11 Commission Report, last year's Airline Disaster and this year's 200MPH. But that's exactly what you get with 3 Musketeers, the studio's modern adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' seminal adventure novel, written by Edward DeRuiter and directed by Cole S. McKay, the man responsible for 200MPH.

Released to coincide with the major-studio 3D revamp (which incidentally bombed), in The Asylum's version, Musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis are thrust into the modern era, portrayed as an elite squad of international spies. When they're framed for an atrocity they did not commit, it sets in motion a chain of events meant to conclude with the assassination of the President of the United States. It's up to Alexandra D'Artagnan, a junior NSA officer, to draw the Musketeers out of hiding and enlist their help in thwarting this dastardly plot. 

And what a plot it is. All in all, 3 Musketeers is a pretty rad political-action flick with wry comedic dashes, explosive, astounding VFX and suspense in spades. In addition to solid scripting and pulse-racing direction, it's the cast that really works to make this one a success.

Our heroes are comprised of actors Xin (Athos), Michele Boyd (Aramis) and Keith Allan (Porthos), while Heather Hemmens plays newbie agent D'Artagnan. Xin was picked for the part primarily, I would imagine, because of his status as one of the world's foremost urban ninjas; if I'm honest, I was expecting some spectacular martial arts and some less-than-spectacular acting from him, but, happily, I was wrong. Xin is certainly an adrenaline-rush just to watch, but he is also sly, stoic and commanding; guy brought his A-game, all-around. 

Michele Boyd's Aramis is vicious grace personified, sleek, sultry and lethal. As the squad's youngest member, she is also its most passionate, thus perhaps its most dangerous. Her beauty is a weapon she wields with a confidence and stern sincerity beyond her years. 

Actors Xin and Heather Hemmens
Heather Hemmens character has a uniqueness to it, as not only is she trying to thwart said dastardly plot, she's also trying to prove herself to the Musketeers. As such, Hemmens occupies the role as intelligently aggressive, respectfully ambitious, impulsive and pure of heart. She's also a certified grade-A badass, the very definition of a strong woman and acted with tangible aplomb. 

And Keith Allan turns in an energetic performance as the squad's resident tech-genius, a wise-cracking, snarky and delightfully sarcastic character, the strongest of the film. Allan provides tension, relatability and most important, levity.

The film also boasts outstanding supporting roles filled by the likes of Alan Rachins ("L.A. Law, Dharma & Greg") as The Cardinal, the cold, zealous, megalomaniacal mastermind behind it all, David Chokachi ("Baywatch," Born Bad) as a consummate soldier living under his own ideals of loyalty, Steven Williams ("21 Jump Street," "Supernatural") as the former agent who gets this conspiracy rolling, the ever-present Gerald Webb as a trusting NSA agent and even a cameo from horror-legend Kane Hodder - 3-time Jason Vorhees and hella prolific actor/stuntman - as the torture-dealing Dr. Kim.

The VFX are practically a character all their own, heightening the suspense and thrills at every opportunity. There are aerial sequences galore, and they're nail-bitingly phenomenal, as well as explosions all sizes, and not once did I lose myself in the CGI - everything was real and seamless and the augmentation to story it was meant to be. 

Seriously, this one never gives you a chance to catch your breath. The action starts  in the first minute and rarely lets up: there are air strikes, fire-fights, more hand-to-hand combat sequences than you can shake a stick at and stellar free-running martial-arts displays from one of the form's foremost practitioners. When the action does briefly recede, there's an intense and intelligent political thriller running underneath, a riveting rivulet of intrigue that keeps your heart excitedly palpitating between explosions. This is a credit to screenwriter Ed DeRuiter. This was DeRuiter's first script for the studio, but he also wrote the story for 2 Headed Shark Attack, which I wrote the script for, so I can tell you first-hand dude's the real deal. I'm not sure there's ever been an Asylum script quite so lively as 3 Musketeers.

Director McKay applies the same fast-paced, thrill-inducing storytelling skills he showed us in 200MPH, but on a much, much grander scale here. And what was rad with car chases is RAD with all the stuff going on here. His use of quick cuts, handheld cameras, shifting perspectives within scenes etc., really fuels the film's addictively frenetic atmosphere. And whoever was in charge of the fight choreography gets an especial tip of my hat: there were fists, guns, grenades, choppers, jets, missiles and - yes - even swords, and each conflict was more spectacular than the last.

All in all then, I say this is a fine effort from all involved, and one of the better - if not the best to date - straight-up action films The Asylum has delivered. It's got action, intrigue, suspense, PG-13 sexuality, quips, kills, guns, chase scenes, deceptions aplenty and frequent blossoms of fire; what more do you want?


  1. What an unbelievably great review by inmate 977 for such a terrible film from 'Asylum'. I think it's time for his meds...

  2. Not worth the watch. Someone paid this reviewer obviously.