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LIFE SEEMS SOMEHOW CHARMED for Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel). This illiterate son of a common clerk has a beautiful fianc0xE9e, Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk), and a new position as ship's captain. But his world starts to crumble when he and his friend Mondego (Guy Pearce) have a chance encounter with the exiled Napoleon. Jealous of Dantes' good fortune and unable to lure away his lover, Mondego uses the meeting to frame the new captain with treason.
Sentenced without even the semblance of a trial by an overzealous government official (James Frain), the young French sailor is sent to the Chateau D'If, an Alcatraz-like prison with a barbaric warden (Michael Wincott). He grows increasingly despondent and angry until he meets a fellow inmate, Abbe Faria (Richard Harris). Despite his own unjust incarceration, the elderly man maintains his decorum as a gentleman while chipping away at the rocky floor of his penitentiary. Under his hand, Dantes is educated, learns the art of swordplay.... and acquires a map to hidden treasure.
Escaping from the Chateau D'If, Dantes reincarnates himself as the wealthy and extravagant Count of Monte Cristo. Considering death to be an easy out for his enemies, he meticulously plots a painful revenge for each of them with the aid of his assistant Jacopo (Luis Guzman) and a band of seafaring smugglers. All goes well until a casual twist of fate unlocks his true identity.
The Count Of Monte Cristo is yet another remake of the swashbuckling adventure written by Alexandre Dumas. Along with themes of betrayal and vengeance, there are plentiful swordplay, (including the graphic skewering of at least two unlucky combatants), knife fights, draconian whipping scenes at the Chateau D'If prison, attempted suicides, shootings, and premeditated treachery. Between fights, the lovely Mercedes finds herself in more than one compromising situation (with brief male nudity) involving her lover and the man she marries.
Although beautifully filmed with lavish costumes and settings, parents may find the film's moral lessons paltry by comparison. Rather than leave justice to a higher source, Dantes makes sure he gets all his jabs in before he buries the hatchet.
The Count Of Monte Cristo is rated PG-13: for adventure violence/swordplay and some sensuality
Cast: James Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, Luis Guzman
Studio: (pictures (c)2002 Touchstone Pictures)