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<i>Musketeer&#39;</i> Director Lets Film Speak for Itself

7 Feb, 2002 By: Fred Topel

Universal Studios Home Video's The Musketeer, which added Hong-Kong-style wirework martial arts to the Alexander Dumas legend, will have a DVD light on extras, as director Peter Hyams prefers to focus on the production at hand rather than supplemental materials for home editions.

“I don't think of anything else except trying to make the movie,” Hyams said. “I am truly the most tunnel vision human being in the world. I trip over things, I don't realize people are around. If it doesn't have to do with actually shooting the film, I am totally unaware. And I'm not somebody who likes to see themselves. I'm one of those people when I hear my voice I cringe. So, I try to shut out the ‘making-of' stuff. I don't want to be aware of it.”

The DVD will feature a stunt montage, the casting tape of star Justin Chambers and the original trailer. There will be no director's commentary, no behind-the-scenes featurettes, no deleted scenes and no gag reel.

Hyams quickly explained the absence of the last two: He never does gag reels and there are no deleted scenes because the finished film “very faithfully follows the script as written.” The DVD commentary is an emotional process for Hyams that he prefers to avoid.

“It's very painful for me to watch a film that I've done when I can no longer do anything,” Hyams said. “Once it's completely out of your hands and that's as good as it could ever be, then all I can do is see what I've done wrong. So, I tend not to look. When I do the commentary, it's an interesting experience for me because I go in and I don't have anything prepared and I just sit down and watch it. It brings back memories and certain thoughts I had. I try to remember what I felt like when we were doing it. I tend to be pretty honest about what I think I screwed up.”

There is no visual effects featurette because most of the digital work was simple wire removal, erasing the cables that assisted stuntmen in the acrobatic fight scenes. There is no choreography featurette either, but Hyams did share his impressions of working with choreographer Xin Xin Xiong on the film's action scenes.

“It is really quite amazing how they do it,” Hyams said. “Xin Xin and his group are the most fearless and disciplined group of people I've ever worked with in my life. They're very, very precise. It's very easy to get hurt without swords being flashed around, so when you add [weapons], you're literally within a quarter of a second of getting hurt if you don't move in the right place and if somebody's hand is in the wrong place. It takes endless rehearsal. Physically, how it's rigged is intriguing. To do the kinds of jumps and flips that are being done in films like The Musketeer, The Matrix and Crouching Tiger requires choreography not only of the stunt player that's doing it—it requires split-second timing of the people who are manipulating the pulleys and the wires.”

The Musketeer streets on video and DVD Feb. 26.

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