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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Saint: Set One
The Saint: Set One
Acorn Media // Unrated // August 5, 2014
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Hartel | posted October 27, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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THE PROGRAM

At his core, the character of Simon Templar best fits the classic Robin Hood mold. Originally appearing on the printed pages towards the end the 1920s, the Leslie Charteris character has seen multiple adaptations both big screen and small, not to mention radio dramas. For most Simon Templar, or The Saint as he's known, is most familiar in the form of either Roger Moore's 1960's television run or the rather disastrous big screen adaptation of the mid 1990's featuring Val Kilmer attached to a woefully crafted screenplay. In the years between those two varying adaptations, a series of television films were produced featuring Simon Dutton in the shoes of the titular character. In "The Saint: Set One," three of those films are spread across three DVDs, offering a glimpse at one of the many different takes on the iconic character.

While no one would argue the overall quality of Roger Moore's take on the character, the Val Kilmer take is a mixed bag; Kilmer himself, frankly did the best with what he was given and in hindsight when compared against the three made-for-TV offerings here, that mid-90s turkey seems much more palatable, with not only action, but logical pacing. Dutton's Saint films are arduous slogs through plots just slightly removed from "Matlock" or "Hart to Hart." In the first outing, "The Brazilian Job," the intriguing concept of a thief for hire, righting wrongs while sticking it to the oblivious or blatantly apathetic authorities is wasted on a tale woven around a black market for infants. With each yarn lingering around the 100-minute mark, viewers will be challenged to keep their interest focused in sequence after sequence that largely consist of exposition. There are moments we get to see Templar in action, concocting a scheme, but they just don't make up for ho-hum dialogue and bland performances.

It doesn't get any better in "The Blue Dulac," although this vengeance-centric teleplay does allow viewers to get more comfortable with Dutton's take on the character. In spite of the truly lazy scripts thrown his way, Dutton proves a commanding screen presence, reminiscent at times of a cross between Timothy Dalton and Robert Wagner. As he becomes more comfortable with the role, he adds a level of charm that just isn't existent in the verbal exchanges. It's not until the third and final film of the set, "Fear in Fun Park," that Dutton takes charge of the screen and even gets to finish things off in the third act with some action packed chase sequences.

Even with "Fear in Fun Park's" more thrilling finale, the general tone throughout is one of mediocrity and nothing coming close to the pedigree of the title character. To make matters worse, all three films suffer from an awful relic of the 1980's: synthy jazz scores. The less said about the series' screeching soundtrack the better; it's grating on the ears and without a doubt the most under produced and outright embarrassing portion of the series Apart from Dutton's increasingly charming performances, all "The Saint" has going for it is a level of production design slightly above average for the time period. For those already familiar with the character, there's nothing to really gain from this curious but inevitably pointless spin on the character; worse though, would be any newcomer to the character who builds his or her first impression off the stories from this set. I can't stress highly enough they aren't representative of the more thrilling adventures of Simon Templar and even for entries in the 80's TV mystery genre, they fall short.

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