Modern (ish) Swashbucklers

After my post Christmas series of blogs about the great swashbuckling movies from the golden age of Hollywood, I’ve been keeping my eye out for some more recent examples. I’m a big fan of this type of movie (if you couldn’t already tell), so if anyone has any other suggestions of movies worth checking out, please let me know.

So, here’s my list of favourites, in no particular order:

1. The Princess Bride (1987). Starring Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright.

This is a great movie, based on a great book. The sword fight between The Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya atop the Cliffs of Insanity is absolutely brilliant, and is worth watching the movie for by itself. It’s not so much the actual swordplay, which is great, but the wit in the writing behind it that really sets it apart as an absolute classic.

Pretty much every character in this film is worthy of a full movie of their own, from Fezzik the Giant to Vizzini and Peter Cook’s ‘Impressive Clergyman’. This movie, and the book it’s based on ooze brilliance from every pore. Just writing about it makes me want to go and watch it again. (Which I’m probably going to do as soon as I finish this post!)

2. Alatriste (2006). Starring Viggo Mortensen. (Spanish, with English subtitles)

Alatriste is a Spanish film, based on the Alatriste series of books by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Pérez-Reverte is one of my favourite writers, and is well worth checking out. His work covers quite a range of subjects (the Johnny Depp film, The Ninth Gate, was based on Pérez-Reverte’s ‘The Dumas Club’ for example) but this movie is based on his series about early 17th Century soldier Diego Alatriste, set against the Dutch Revolt and various other events of the period.

The film provides a fantastic picture of period Spain; the costumes, settings and whole atmosphere of the film are really impressive. I don’t really want to go into too much detail about the sword fights for fear of spoilers, but there’s a pretty good one in it, and for a fan of swashbuckling films, I’d consider this  a must-see.

3. The Fencing Master – El Maestro de Esgrima (1992)(Spanish)

Another adaptation of a Pérez-Reverte novel of the same name. I saw this movie on TV quite a few years ago now; it was what put me onto Pérez-Reverte’s books in the first place. It’s been some time since I saw it, so I don’t remember all the details. I’ve been trying to track down a copy of it ever since as I really enjoyed it, but with no luck. I’ve kind of put it here in the hope of adding to web-traffic interest for a DVD release (assuming there hasn’t already been one that I’ve missed)!

It’s the story of a fencing master at a time when the noble arts of swordsmanship are of declining popularity in Spain, who gets caught up in various intrigues when a beautiful and mysterious woman comes to his salle for lessons. The book is excellent if, like me, you have no luck in tracking down the movie (it’s worth reading even if you do find the film though!).

4. Stardust (2007). Starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro.

Based on the excellent Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, this is another one where both book and movie should be looked at.

Not an outright swashbuckler, but the persona taken on by the main character, Tristan, and De Niro’s Captain Shakespeare give it enough of that flavour to get it on the list. All round, it’s a really enjoyable film and well worth watching.

5. The Mask of Zorro (1998). Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones.

Essentially  a remake of what is perhaps the greatest swashbuckling movie of all time (see my earlier post here for that one) with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone, arguably the two best swashbuckling stars of all time, this one was always going to be up against it.

However, I think they did a really great job. Banderas is brilliant in the role, Hopkins is equally brilliant as always, and Zeta Jones rounds off a pretty excellent cast.

No point in rehashing the story, but safe to say, if you enjoy swashbuckling adventure movies, this one is unlikely to disappoint!

If anyone has any other more modern swashbuckling films to suggest, please feel free to let me know, either in the comments or via my contact page, as I’m always on the look out for new ones!

All images were sourced from Wikipedia and are © their respective copyright holders.

4 thoughts on “Modern (ish) Swashbucklers

      • The new one is kind of action and a steampunk spin. Visually one of the best, but plot and acting not as good as earlier ones.

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