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Cartouche (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Jean-Paul Belmondo plays the 18th century French bandit, swordsman, and rogue Louis-Dominique Bourguignon, alias Cartouche alongside beautiful Claudia Cardinale as the Gypsy girl Vénus in this swashbuckling action-adventures based on the real-life historical figure who becomes a Robin Hood-like figure stealing from the rich and sharing with the poor.

Based on a real-life historical French figure, 1962 film Cartouche stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as the swashbuckling 18th century French rapscallion, womanizer, and bandit who begins as a mere thief stealing from anyone as the top man under a corrupt Parisian crime boss named Malichot (Marcel Dalio), but when he crosses paths with stunning Gypsy beauty Vénus (Claudia Cardinale), his heart softens (but not his wandering eye) and he begins robbing from the rich to give to the poor like a French Robin Hood, becoming a hero to the downtrodden and target of L’éstablissement.

With two distinct halves, Cartouche begins as a happy-go-lucky swashbuckler in its first half and in its second half turns slightly more serious and melancholier as Dominique “Cartouche” falls for another woman of Upper-Class status after taking over the crime syndicate he originally worked for. This forbidden attraction obviously turns tragic as he tries to woo the new object of his affections and Vénus is hurt in the crossfire, while members of his group are captured by law enforcement and tortured to give up information on his whereabouts.

If you are a fan of the classic Erol Flynn movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood or the 1948 film The Three Musketeers, then you will find plenty to love in this almost cartoonish adventure that revels in its silliness, never stopping to take itself too seriously. Belmondo is perfectly cast as the roguish lead and Cardinale is splendidly gorgeous and coquettish. The chemistry between the two is palpable. Meanwhile, director Philippe de Broca (The Man from Rio) infuses the film with lots of energy and humor while sculpting a meticulous Age of Enlightenment set design.

The Video

Cartouche was shot on 35mm in the Dyaliscope anamorphic format and comes to Blu-ray from the 4K restoration from the original camera negative originally released by StudioCanal in 2015. It’s framed at 2.35:1 and in an AVC 1080p encodement here from Kino Lorber. It looks filmic, organic, with a lovely amount of film grain and vibrant but not overly saturated colors. There is some nuance in the shadows, but the blacks don’t look particularly inky black, more of a murky charcoal grey at times in dark scenes. This is seems more the production than the transfer.

The Audio

The original monaural audio mix for Cartouche is included in French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. There is little dynamic range and it seems mastered to a low level, but ultimately it does the trick and provides clear enough dialogue and foley effects.

The Supplements

The audio commentary is superb, going into may details of the cast and production and the documentary included is also well worth watching.

  • Audio Commentary by Film Critic and Author Simon Abrams
  • Adventure with a Capital “C” – Documentary with Alexandra de Broca & Journalist Thomas Morales (1080p; 00:26:25)
  • Cartouche Trailer (SD)
  • Additional Kino Lorber Trailers

The Final Assessment

Classic swashbuckling fun with Belmondo and Cardinale in a gorgeous 4K restoration on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Highly recommended to pass the time with on a lazy Saturday afternoon.


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Cartouche (Special Edition) is out on Blu-ray June 8, 2021 from Kino Lorber


  • Studios & Distributors: Filmsonor | Les Films Ariane | Mondex Films | Vides Cinematografica | StudioCanal | Kino Lorber
  • Director: Philippe de Broca
  • Written By: Daniel Boulanger | Philippe de Broca | Charles Spaak
  • Run Time: 116 Mins.
  • Street Date: 8 June 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: French DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
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