On Guard

Watch On Guard

  • TV-14
  • 2016
  • 2 hr 8 min
  • 6.9  (3,757)
  • 69

On Guard is a French swashbuckler movie that was released in 1997, directed by Philippe de Broca, and features actors such as Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, and Vincent Perez. The narrative is set in the 17th century and titled after the protagonist's titular position. The movie tells the tale of an aging, one-armed nobleman named the Duke of Nevers who falls prey to a conspiratorial plot to oust him from his seat of power.

Since he is unable to defend himself in the face of serious danger, he is confined to a life of isolation with only his family for company. His life changes when the notorious swordsman and libertine Lagardère (played by Daniel Auteuil) enters his life to seek vengeance against his arch-nemesis, the Duke of Nevers' treacherous cousin, Count Gonzague (Fabrice Luchini).

Lagardère's motivation for revenge goes beyond personal vendetta; he is tasked with upholding a promise to his friend, the Duke of Nevers, who was foully murdered by Gonzague. To avenge his friend's death, Lagardère decides to impersonate a fencing master and approach Gonzague as his protege, thereby getting close to him and gaining his trust.

However, when the con goes a little too well, Lagardère finds himself drawn into the lives of the Duke's family, especially when he becomes the bodyguard of the Duke's daughter, Aurore (played by Marie Gillain), with whom he promptly falls in love.

In addition to the tension brought up by the vendetta storyline, the movie incorporates plenty of humor, making it a fitting sort of romantic comedy: Lagardère's carefree and maverick ways paired with his surly sidekick and protector, Passepoil (played by Vincent Perez), balance out the darker aspects of the conspiratorial plot, as the two engage in their boisterous adventures.

On Guard's merit lies in its seamless blend of action, drama, and comedy. The fight scenes are remarkably well-choreographed, with the use of natural lighting and sound, making the action seem all the more realistic. Likewise, the dialogue moves smoothly between humorous interactions between the actors, as well as more emotional interactions when the situation calls for it.

The characters are compelling, with each character coming across as fully realized in their own right. Daniel Auteuil's Lagardère, for instance, is a noticeable standout: his guarded vulnerability of being an outsider seeking revenge melds beautifully with his resistance to becoming too attached to the Duke's family for fear of getting them hurt. A fitting contrast to Auteuil's Lagardère is Fabrice Luchini's Gonzague, whose sliminess and entitlement make him the perfect out-and-out villain.

Another strong aspect of the movie is its depiction of time and place. With its 17th-century setting and wardrobe, the movie evokes contrasting periods of opulence and violence, with pervasive injustice taking center stage in the midst of all the splendor. Costume design is particularly impressive, with each character having their unique style of clothing that doubles as a reflection of their personalities.

On Guard's execution elevates it above your typical swashbuckling movie. The movie's pacing manages to immerse the viewer in the story without overstaying its welcome or dragging on needlessly. For instance, On Guard intelligently uses the ubiquity of letters as its narrative device to keep things moving quickly without sacrificing depth or insight.

Overall, On Guard is a hidden gem that will appeal to fans of action movies, period pieces, and even romance enthusiasts. Its well-rounded cast and timeless storytelling make it stand out among other movies of the same ilk.

On Guard is a 2016 adventure movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 8 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 69.

Where to Watch On Guard
On Guard is available to watch free on Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon and Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent On Guard for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 8 min
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (3,757)
  • Metascore