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Friday Film Review: The Abduction Club

The Abduction Club (2002)
Genre: Historical/Comedy/Drama/Romance
Grade: B

Ever since I first heard about this movie, while looking for art pics to be used for Lynne Connolly’s “Richard and Rose” series for my reviews “back in the day” when these weren’t available anymore after the original epublisher did an early version of what we now call epublisherfail, I’ve wanted to see it. Problem was, and still is, that it’s only out in a region 2 or 4 DVD which leaves me, in region 1, basically SOL. Or so I thought. Then I discovered a way to see it. On youtube! God bless youtube which allows people to put all kinds of crap up for public viewing or, in this case, a movie that it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to legitimately buy any damn time soon.

So I watched it (in either 9 [German subtitles] or 10 [Spanish subtitles] part sections depending on which version you watch).

ETA: Sorry but this looks like it’s now been taken down from youtube. Only clips are left.

It’s a simple plot which is supposed to be based on actual, though much less fun than depicted on screen, events. We’re in eighteenth century Ireland. As in England, the eldest son inherits all the family loot leaving any younger sons to find some other way to support their expected lifestyle. The Abduction Club is a band of young men who meet, woo then kidnap rich women in order to marry for money and avoid being forced into the priesthood or military by their families.

Our group nobly insists that the women have the right to refuse to marry their abductors in which case the women will be returned to their families the next morning. But the lads count on having discovered the interests of their brides-to-be, detected a mutual attraction and then using their charm to carry the day. The film opens with one successful abduction during which we learn what it’s all about and the rules by which the club operates. After each event, they draw lots to determine the next to try his hand.

Garrett Byrne (Daniel Lapaine) wins the next opportunity and sets out to gain the interest of Catherine Kennedy (Alice Evans) the daughter of a wealthy gentleman. During their meeting, his friend James Strange (Matthews Rhys) meets the younger daughter Anne (Sophia Myles). It’s a meeting during which sparks fly as these two spar with each other. Meanwhile Byrne is practically oozing oily charm as he shamelessly flatters Catherine. Thinking it’s all in the bag, he announces he’s ready and the abduction is planned.

Only it all goes tits up. Catherine is abducted from an evening musicale but evinces no interest in marrying Byrne, much to his surprised dismay. Strange shows up with Anne who has apparently flirted him into taking her with him only to change her mind once he flubs the proposal. Then Anne’s rejected suitor (Liam Cunningham) rides to the rescue along with a company of soldiers and things really go wrong. Now the couples are on the run, finally seeing each other for who they truly are and falling in love. But is it too late for their HEA?

Why do I like it? It’s like a romance novel on screen! It’s fun to watch but probably has little relation to reality when it comes right down to it. Though the storyline is fairly predictable, we’re used to this in romance novels, right? We even like the predictability for the most part. It’s got two heroes, one who’s handsome and one who’s cute but not quite handsome enough to be the main guy. Plus loads of secondary men who could have ended up as heroes of other movies. I can just see the sequel potential now.

It’s got two heroines who are sisters. One gets to play the responsible heroine who we just know is going to have her martyr moment and a younger, feisty heroine who plays the irrepressible role until her chance to be a martyr arrives, because we all know that all heroines are martyr wannabes. I do like that Catherine calls Byrne on his reasons for marrying her in a nice “turn the tables on him” moment. While Anne basically flips Strange the verbal bird after his spectacularly inept marriage proposal.

All this takes place after the “meet cute,” or maybe I should say the “abduct cute,” scene where everything does go wrong that can go wrong. Lots of one liners and merrie mayhem abound. Plus the intro to a great Bach concerto. There are also chase scenes, fleeing from the heroes scenes, introspection scenes and narrow escapes. Then an “amazing rescue from death at the last moment complete with all the male buddies” scene before a final “overcoming the villains” ending leading to romance for all as the closing credits roll.

The girls’ father (John Arthur) is every father I’ve ever hated in a romance novel. A widower, he’s more interested in gambling than watching who his daughters meet at racetracks. He then abdicates all parental responsibility and expects one of the girls to pay for his mistakes before finally wising up to his nonsense and agreeing to let the girls marry penniless men who have no prospects and who are on the run from the law!

We also get two villains for the price of admission. One is either a heartless, manipulative asshole (Cunningham) or merely misunderstood depending on whether or not anyone would want to redeem him in a sequel book – uhm I mean movie. While the secondary villain (Tom Murphy) plays the “hero envy” role or could possibly be gay – and thus obviously a villain because all homosexuals in historicals are eeevil.

Great costumes and scenery plus rousing music round out the experience. Though I think the hair stylists did better by Lapaine than Rhys in the hair extensions category

Most of the actors look like they’re having a good time with their roles. Except maybe Alice Evans who has to be so sober during much of the film. Sophia Myles is a bubbly delight. Lapaine and Rhys have that great buddy chemistry going.

I do wish whoever owns the rights would eliminate the regional freeze out that has most of the world twiddling their thumbs waiting to buy a legitimate copy. But until then, there’s youtube. At a little over 90 minutes, it doesn’t take that long to watch. You can manage the roughly 9-10 minute long sections on work breaks or in delinquent moments when your supervisor isn’t looking. Go on, it’s a fun movie.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

21 Comments

  1. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 04:40:31

    Ah, I see what I’m doing this weekend to procrastinate with my WIP. The only decision—Spanish or German? Thanks for the review. Alice Evans is married to the hero of last week’s film review, Ioan Gruffudd. I want to see who snagged my Horatio.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 06:11:37

    Type in “The Abduction Club” and you get the German subtitle one. El Club del Rapto is the Spanish subtitle version. Spoken language in both is English.

    Wonder if Evans would give us Ioan back? Probably not…

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  3. Barbara Sheridan
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 09:51:58

    For out of region DVDs there are players that are or that you can make region free with a couple remote clicks. Mine is a 5-6 yr old Phillips model 642 that was about $60 back then.

    ReplyReply

  4. Ros
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 10:28:47

    Have you seen Plunkett and Macleane? The Abduction Club reminded me a lot of P&M, only P&M is better! The romance is perhaps not quite so front and centre in P&M, though it is certainly there and important, but the performances of Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller are spot on, with Alan Cumming in a really fun supporting role. The whole thing is slicker and funnier and fabulous. Watch it now!

    ReplyReply

  5. Karenmc
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 10:37:33

    Oh, cool.

    ReplyReply

  6. Denise
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 10:53:38

    I was waiting forever in the hopes of seeing the region restrictions lifted so I could order this DVD. I stumbled across it on Youtube about 4 months ago. Yay!

    You’re right. It’s a romance novel on TV and great fun to watch. Even though he wasn’t the main hero, I liked Matthew Rhys’s character more. I think it’s because he’s a little more angsty. Angst+hero=win for me.

    I’d definitely recommend watching it.

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  7. Meanne
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 12:39:41

    I enjoyed reading your review of this movie and completely agree with you…

    This movie is cute, light and frothy — just perfect to watch and make you smile on a rainy day afternoon…

    ReplyReply

  8. Moth
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 16:33:42

    I’m on part 4/9 on You Tube and this movie is HILARIOUS!

    ReplyReply

  9. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 17:36:41

    Catherine’s abduction and the dual marriage proposals scenes are a scream. I love the way Strange keeps shooting a bullet into the ceiling of every place they abduct someone from.

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  10. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 18:00:13

    Ros, thanks for the heads up on “Plunkett and Macleane.” I’d never heard of it before but it looks like fun. And I adore Alan Cumming and am looking forward to his “Boy George of the 18th Century.”

    ReplyReply

  11. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2009 @ 18:02:20

    Even though he wasn't the main hero, I liked Matthew Rhys's character more. I think it's because he's a little more angsty. Angst+hero=win for me.

    I kinda like him better too. And his character speaks Italian! Swoon…

    ReplyReply

  12. Maili
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 10:53:50

    I know some people aren’t keen on The Abduction Club, but I love it.

    It’s hilarious and wacky. IMO, the weakest aspect of TAC is actress Alice Evans. It felt as if she wasn’t sure why she was in this film, which occasionally got on my nerves. But everyone else? Pure fun. Matthew Rhys’s character Strang is probably my favourite because of these things he says and does are so endearing.

    I loved Plunkett and Macleane, too.

    ReplyReply

  13. NatalieT
    Sep 05, 2009 @ 19:12:04

    I bought this for $2 at the discount store a couple of weeks ago (in Australia). I watched it years ago and thought it was cute.

    ReplyReply

  14. Estelle
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 12:23:37

    I second the rec for Plunkett &Macleane. That movie is excellent. I did a music video on it a while ago which you can find here if you’d like to see what it looks like:

    http://www.divshare.com/download/754158-dbf

    You can either download it or preview it (the quality of the preview is kind of crappy though). I wanted to give the link from my YouTube account but the sound was removed from the video. Happens a lot these days.

    Funnily enough, I discovered The Abduction Club through a music video too. I’m lucky because I live in Europe so I could buy the dvd and watch it on my tv screen.

    I love the Anne/Strange romance. So very funny. The budget for this movie must not have been very big but they did very well with what they had IMO.

    Thanks for reviewing this movie and making it a bit better known.

    ReplyReply

  15. Likari
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 15:09:56

    gah!

    I have been so GOOD lately, either doing actual paid work or working blissfully on my WIP.

    I’ve barely tweeted.

    I’ve been disgracefully absent from First Page Saturday.

    I’ve been trudging across the tundra to my goal of getting the damn thing ready for submission.

    I have, I have, I have!

    I think I’ve earned a treat; I’m going to watch this over the weekend. I will feel guilty.

    ReplyReply

  16. Racheal
    Mar 08, 2010 @ 18:11:06

    Man, I am soooooo mad because I tried to find it on youtube and I don’t think it’s there anymore. Is there any way you could get me the link just in case I’m missing it?

    ReplyReply

  17. Jayne
    Mar 08, 2010 @ 18:57:15

    I just checked both titles it was listed under and the only things I can find are short videos using film footage set to music. Maybe someone else will repost it later.

    ReplyReply

  18. Rachael
    Mar 09, 2010 @ 17:40:30

    @Jayne: Alright, well thank you anyway!

    ReplyReply

  19. Lisbet
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 21:18:29

    Hello! Can anyone help me please, I have een trying for a while to see “The Abduction Club” but I cannot seem to be able to find this movie at all. Not even on videos. Does anyone know an actual website that might be showing this movie? Please, I would like to see it. Thanks, in advance.

    ReplyReply

  20. Jayne
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:07:37

    OMG! I just found someone selling it at www ioffer dot com. I don’t know anything about the seller so order at your own risk but the listing says it’s a DVD-R recording which should play in the US.

    Whoo-hoo, off to go buy one!

    ReplyReply

  21. Jules Vismale
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 06:34:42

    Wat ik toch het leukste vind aan The Abduction Club uit 2002 is datgene wat op de aankondigingsposter wordt afgebeeld. Daar zie je hoe Alice Evans door Daniel Lapaine over de schouder wordt genomen en rondgedragen en hoe Sophia Mayes eveneens door Matthey Rhys over de schouder wordt genomen en gedragen. De beide jongemannen en de jongedames kijken allemaal erg vrolijk en humoristisch in de camera al viel het mij alleen in de film op dat Alice Evans als enigste over de schouder ging waarbij zij ten eerste hysterischer leek en ten tweede lag zij toen over de rechterschouder van Daniel Lapaine en op de poster over diens linkerschouder! Nou is het me alleen een raadsel of die club van jongeheren uit de 18de eeuw (ze hadden dus blijkbaar echt bestaan) inderdaad bij het ontvoeren van rijke meisjes dezen over hun schouder legden. Overigens hadden Alice Evans en Sophia Mayes in een gewone speelfilm (mist ze in jeans, spijkerkleding, waren gekleed) best zo wat langer op eendere wijze mogen worden vervoerd maar ik geloof niettemin dat vrijwel alle meisjes en vrouwen die in speelfilms uit de 20ste eeuw en het begin van de 21ste eeuw ooit hebben meegespeeld, ongeacht of ze uit de VS, Engeland enz. kwamen, allemaal wel eens oftewel in films of in het dagelijkse leven bij jongens en mannen over de schouder werden gelegd! In Noord-Amerika is het al haast een landelijke traditie geworden daar vrouwen zich hier lichamelijk en geestelijk beter voor lenen want ik heb er op internet duizenden afbeeldingen en youtube-filmpjes van gezien en persoonlijk heb ik vroeger eveneens tientallen vrouwen over mijn schouder genomen!

    ReplyReply

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