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4.7 out of 5 stars37
4.7 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon 25 January 2008
From the DVD case of the movie under its French title, Le Bossu (The Hunchback), which is more satisfyingly overwrought than I could manage: When his great friend the Duke of Nevers is slain in a dastardly assassination plot by the Count Gonzague, fencing master Lagardere swears he will avenge the Duke's death and take care of the Duke's beloved orphaned daughter, Aurore. Sixteen years later, after secretly hiding with a touring theater group and raising the baby to young womanhood, Lagardere returns to the sumptuous Parisian courts to honor his deadly oath. Disguising himself as Gonzague's hunchback manservant, Lagardere infiltrates the Count's entourage and waits for his moment to strike and triumph over the traitorous forces of evil.

This is a first-rate swashbuckler that takes place in 18th century France. There's great sword play, a strong story, cunning disguises, some effective villains and a terrific acting job by Daniel Auteuil as Lagardere. The other actors are no slouches either, and there is a small but funny and effective part by Phillipe Noiret as an aging and selfishly charming Duke of Orleans.

Auteuil is an extraordinary actor with ordinary looks. Check out his role as Yves Montand's nephew in Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, then see him as the captain in The Widow of St. Pierre, then see him in this. Completely different roles and completely believable performances.

Some might be a bit squeamish toward the end at the sight of a 16-year-old crumpet passionately kissing a fortyish man. In this case, the man also has been her guardian and has taken care of her for nearly all of those years...and they live happily ever after. Ah, the French.

The DVD looks great. This is a movie worth getting if you like sword play, wit, heiresses restored to their fortunes and justice winning out.
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on 12 October 2006
With so many modern film-makers (especially in the US) having forgotten the basics that make a movie interesting (clear and credible plotting, in-depth characterisation, an empathetic protagonist, tension, pace and a satisfying and well-timed ending for example) it is a real joy to find the art of good old fashioned story-telling alive, well, and apparently thriving, in France.

Le Bossu (The Hunchback) is a visual treat - a great, escapist 'Sunday Afternoon' movie, set in colourful 18th century France. Georgeous location photography and sumptuous costumes dress a rich stage, but the focus stays firmly on the characters and the highs and lows of their struggles, especially that of Auteuil's dashing Lagardere (Somewhat misleadingly, the hunchback of the title) as he tries to clear his name, avenge the murder of his friend the Duc de Nevers and care for his orphaned daughter, heiress to the huge fortune stolen by arch villain, the slimy Count Gonzague.

The pace is taughtly kept, the story peppered with swash-buckling sword fights (often hilarious as well as dazzlingly fast) evil plots and cunning counter measures, nail-biting escapes and adrenaline-pumping pursuits. The supply of black-cloaked baddies, all despatched with aplomb by Lagardere, is seemingly endless. But the plot telescopes neatly down to the finale, which arrives with a satisfying sense of inevitability as the tireless hero closes in on the villains.

Cynics would say that this is a fairy-tale, with cartoon-character bad-guys and an impossibly noble hero, whose sword play and just-in time heroics ressemble the impossible coolness of Spaghetti Western leads. But since when did cynics know how to have fun? And this is a hugely enjoyable movie, a great sprawling feast of adventure, action and romance. The story is told with enthusiasm and wit, and the performances, especially the engaging and chameleon-like Auteuil, are superb. His versitility and sheer charm are rivetting. Quelle Homme!

Technically the transfer is excellent, with good picture and excellent surround-sound - especially good on DTS or Pro-Logic II if your player can support these. Subtiltes are in English and are fine. All in all, rich, well-told, superbly performed and great fun.

En Garde!
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The much-loved Jean Marais-Bourvil 1960 version oft-filmed warhorse of French cinema now rather pales besides Philippe de Broca's wonderful 1997 version (released Stateside as On Guard) starring Daniel Auteil. André Hunabelle's version lacks the flair that de Broca gave Cartouche only two years later, little helped by Jean Marais' rather stiff turn in the lead. Bourvil has little to do for the first half hour, but is allowed some nice comic business once the characters reach Spain and the story passes pleasantly with some good moments, but it's not the classic it's reputation implies. And unfortunately C'est la Vie's UK PAL DVD is a bit of a disappontment, offering a cropped 1.85:1 transfer instead of the original 2.35:1 and no film-specific extras. For those and a sparkling 2.35:1 widescreen transfer you need to find the French special edition DVD - but unfortunately that doesn't contain English subtitles.
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Philippe de Broca's 1997 version of Le Bossu (aka On Guard), an oft-filmed warhorse of French cinema, is probably the best of the bunch. Daniel Auteuil is the sword-for-hire who finds himself sworn to avenge the death of Vincent Perez's amiably pompous aristocrat and to restore his daughter to her inheritance, purloined by Perez's evil cousin (Fabrice Lucini). Shades of Scaramouche ensue as they hide out with a group of travelling players, Auteuil working his way into Lucini's confidence by disguising himself as a hunchback (many businessmen used to hire hunchbacks because it was believed lucky to touch their humps or sign contracts on their backs!). The first half is a little awkward in tone, with Auteuil overdoing the youthful enthusiasm a bit (he's better at doleful than happy), but the second half is pure joy, filled with swordfights, rescues and good old fashioned sentimentality. Vincent Perez has fun sending up his swashbuckling image and even the usually one note Lucini rallies in the second half as he gets to wallow in his own villainy. De Broca's direction has much more panache and wit this time round than in his other classic swashbuckler, Cartouche, the script is extremely witty and Philippe Sarde's score even finds room for a few in-jokes, from the inclusion of a song from his own score to The Judge and the Assassin in a street scene to a wonderfully sentimental use of Cavaleria Rusticana. Good old-fashioned entertainment in the very best sense.
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on 25 October 2009
Saw Jean Marais in this film when i was younger and it never left my mind.

Glad to finally have it in DVD.
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on 9 February 2014
Le Bossu (The Hunchback) is a film worth seeing. It is one of the best adventures/action films I seen lately.

The story is captivating and the fight scenes are thrilling. Duke of Nevers, a famous swordsman find out he has an heir and goes to get married. Because there was an attempt on his life he asks a talented swordsman, Lagardere to accompany him. The Duke of Nevers is killed but his secret deadly attack is passed on to Lagardere who manages to escape with Nevers’s daughter and swore to avenge his friend’s death.

In conclusion: It has everything you could wish for from a adventures/action film – a good story, captivating fights, powerful characters and a beautiful love story. I would recommend this film to my friends.
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on 14 December 2007
This is, basically, the European equivalentof a kung fu movie. The plot is largely there as an excuse for the swordfights - not in any way deep or even remotely plausible but a lot of fun.

Another reviewer has outlined much of the storyline. The only thing I can add is that there is a characteristically implausible romantic twist.

The fighting is in the old Errol Flynn vein. Not much in the way of martial art credibility but, once again, loads of fun. The central good and bad guys dispense extras a dozen at a time.

That's pretty much it really. A good light-hearted swash-buckler. Sit back and enjoy.
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on 6 November 2011
I saw this film with my grand-parents at a 'cinema de plein-air' in France. No subtitles, and at the time my french wasn't up to much...but still,I loved it. A great story, with just the right amount of action without it seeming silly. I just really liked it, it's definitely one of the best French films I've seen (and that's compared with A Bout de Souffle and Au Revoir les Enfants, which literally has the most heart-wrenching ending scene). Just great fun. Brilliant.

I would say, though, that I was a bit confused and concerned with the kiss at the end- did Aurora know that Le Bossu was not actually her dad? I mean, I know that she found out before they kissed, but I still found the kiss happened a bit too quick!!!!!! :)
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on 12 February 2004
This film rules, my french isnt too great but the subtitles let me understand the bits i need help with. cracking film with some great sword fighting. Look out for the Nevers attack, must learn that one !!
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on 1 November 2010
I first saw this film in 1997 and I loved it. At last it has been issued on DVD at a price that is affordable. It is a great swashbuckling movie set in France in 1770. Daniel Auteuil leads, with Vincent Perez and Marie Gillan.
The title music by Phillippe Sarde magnificently draws you into the sword play and consequent action.
It is in French with good English subtitles. The production is very good and Mascagni's Intermezzo from Cavaliera Rusticana provides the sumptuous sound for the poignant scenes.I'm not telling you the plot. Just buy it and enjoy it.YouTube has a good clip to whet your appetite. Le Bossu video.
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