The Return of the Musketeers (1989)

The Return of the Musketeers (1989), directed by Richard Lester.


You see what comes of locking up your enemy like a criminal, instead of cutting his throat like a gentleman.

-- d'Artagnan

One year after publishing The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas published Twenty Years After, giving further adventures of his heroes later in life. Fifteen years after the splendid The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), director Richard Lester, writer George MacDonald Fraser and the cast return to do a very loose adaptation of the second book.

This sequel does not have the richness or depth of the earlier films, but it still has fun moments and it is great to get the gang back together. I missed the odd cycle of serious and silly from the other films; here it is all pretty absurd. As before, a lot of wit comes from idle comments by bystanders.

For young blood they imported Americans: C. Thomas Howell -- Red Dawn (1984) -- and Kim Cattrall. Young people, New World? She is rather good at the action bits and looks particularly fetching with a sword in her hand. Last seen in Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) and Split Second (1992).


In Steven Soderbergh's book Getting Away With It, Lester says:


Once we didn't have access to original footage from Three and Four Musketeers to slot into Return, then the whole concept of making Dumas's Twenty Years After was destroyed. It was a hole beneath the water line. [...] Ultimately, it seemed to me the only reason that [Salkind] didn't do it must have been spite.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. Image quality in the bright scenes is fine.

The solemn commentary track says the film did not get a US theatrical release; it went straight to cable. Which may be why it is mostly unknown here.