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4.2 out of 5 stars112
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2004
If you like your historical dramas rich in costume, sets & martial arts (?!), then this is the film for you!
Set in 1764, it centres on the investigations of two men (Gregoire de Fronsac & his kung-fu Mohawk pal - no, really) into the appearence of a mysterious savage beast, which hunts down women & children mercilessly in the Gevaudan region of France.
Cut through the martial arts bizarritude, & you have a rather decent film which supplies all the necessary: action; intrigue; love interest; guns; wolves; exploding pumpkins; prostitutes & lots of peasants thrashing about in mud.
The actors are well cast & include the wonderful Vincent Cassel as a disturbingly incestuous bad guy. The soundtrack is a voluptuous mix of bagpipes, accordians, & 'Gladiator' style atonal wailings. Blend these with cartoon style incidental sound effects (Kerrrunnch! Kablammnn!), a darkened room & a good sound system & you're in for an eerie time. (Watch it with subtitles to complete the experience.)
As a whole, this tale is a rich masterpiece which contains a more than a grain of truth at it's heart. If you can suspend your disbelief for 2 hours 17 minutes (plus the historical docmentary) you shouldn't be disappointed.
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Wow, they certainly tossed just about everything into the pot in making this one, including the French Revolution. "Le Pacte des Loups" starts off as a exquisitely photographed costume drama/horror flick set in 18th century France with a poor peasant girl being hunted down by an unseen beast. My first thought that this was a beautiful film, more reminiscent of a Jane Austen period piece than a horror flick from Hammer Studio. But then our hero, Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his faithful Indian companion, Mani (Mark Dacasos), show up and we suddenly discover the film is also a cross between "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." However, since this is movie based on a legend regarding a huge wolf ravaging the French countryside, this hardly seems the time to insist upon a standard of realism.
The collaboration between director Christophe Gans and cinematographer Dan Laustsen results in some beautiful and memorable camera shots (most notably, as the camera tracks up a woman's nude body it morphs into snow covered terrain), often playing with time and movement to great effect. In the deleted scenes Gans provides a sort of mini-commentary on the film that is quite interesting in terms of setting up the film's dynamic, especially regarding the opening sequence originally conceived for the film and the scene that replace it. Laustsen is the cinematographer on upcoming "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and my assumption is that when I see that film I will have a better sense of who contributed the most to "Brotherhood of the Wolf."
The film was edited Xavier Loutreuil and Sébastien Prangère, with David Wu doing the Hong Kong kung fu fight sequences, which are impresive because they do not, for the most part, violate the realism of the time, which is a way of saying the wire work is extremely limited and understated. I also like the way Fronsac's love triangle is color coded: Marianne de Morangias (Émilie Dequenne) is a redhead often dressed in a red uniform while the raven haired Sylvia (Monica Bellucci) always wears black. The rouge/noir opposition works well in contrast to the blues, browns and yellows which serve as the palatte for most of the film.
My only real complaint is actually the traditional complaint one has after watching a Hammer horror film: the beast, when we finally get to see it, is something of a disappointment. However, I will allow that this is probably due as much to my heightened expectations given the quality level of the rest of the film more than to the limitations of CIG technology. The second time I watched the film this aspects was less bothersome to me, but still something of a disappointment. An action/horror/fantasy/thriller/romance like "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is not going to be embraced by everyone, but certainly fans of those genres will admire the ambition of this film, the most beautiful of its type we have ever seen.
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Imagine a fairy tale... but with grit, blood, stylized camerawork, and lots of French kung-fu.

That about sums up "Brotherhood of the Wolf," a gritty horror/martial-arts/erotic/action movie loosely based on the French legend of the Beast of Gévaudan, but with a chilling story woven around it. Christophe Gans could have given it a bit more character development, but it's a simple flaw in an otherwise horrifying, intense experience.

An enormous, savage wolflike beast is killing young women and children in the French countryside. And so royal naturalist Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Native American sidekick Mani (Mark Dacascos) arrive to investigate, and find that the local authorities are incompetant, the Beast is larger than any wolf, and it's still savaging the locals.

Mani and Grégoire set about tracking down the beast, finding it to be too large and intelligent (and with metal fangs too). But something more sinister than animal attacks is going on -- Fronsac uncovers a mysterious, treasonous society connected to the Beast, and a mysterious courtesan (Monica Belucci) with hidden motives.

It may be based on a real incident, but "Brotherhood of the Wolf" soon takes off into its own storyline. And director Gans crams the whole thing with whatever he likes -- horror, action, political period drama, and some French martial arts. It's like an old fairy tale mutated into a live-action anime.

And Gans' direction style can include a little of everything too -- he handles rosy-skied romantic scenes with the same dexterity as raw sex scenes, rainy sludge and bloody chases. And he handles the camera just as well, although the style comes as a bit of a shock in a period film -- it zooms down cliffs and through underbrush, rapid-pans, and lingers on the fairy-tale landscapes of the French countryside.

One of the best examples of this is near the beginning, with Mani and Grégoire encountering a pair of gypsies being bullied, and Mani whipping the bullies with savate and a little la canne. It's a wild, dizzying scene, and thoroughly effective in showing these guys as a force to be reckoned with. But at the same time, Gans wraps the beginning and end in a sense of poignant regret.

If there's a flaw, it's that the plot and rich direction take up so much time that it's hard to wedge in some character development. Bihan fares pretty well as the inscrutable taxidermist, and over the course of the movie, you develop a liking for him and his girlfriend. But it would have been nice if the characters of Mani and Sylvia were explored a bit more than they were -- as it is, Belucci and Dacascos do amazing jobs with their characters.

This horror/action/period/French kung-fu flick breaks all the rules, and it's all the more enjoyable for it. A glorious action classic, and a must-see for cult film lovers.
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on 24 September 2002
Christophe Gans finally returns to directing nearly eight years since his previous film 'Crying Freeman'. Surprisingly - his comandeering skills have blossomed over this time to depart from his stylistic yet slightly forgettable attempt in the 1995 anime adaptation, and have emerged ; bloody fangs clamped in a genre defying visual attack on the senses that has to be seen to be believed.
the story is based on a real one. tales in ancient france 1764 of a beast that brutally murders women and children escalates into a 3 year long hunt for a wolf with metal teeth and bristling fur. despite all attempts - the creature evades the local jurisdiction and two men are sent from the king to deal with the matter.
thats all you really need to know in the story department. whether that tantalizes you or not is unimportant - because there are no words to describe the impact this film will have on you. hate it, or love it, it's impossible to ignore. blending thriller, mystery, romance, period drama, horror, humour, action, and even kung-fu with sumptuous visuals and some stunning special effects ; the movie triumphs over the stale stench of typecast cinema from france nowadays as well as hollywood and comes as a welcome breath of fresh air to the film industry.
this truly is cinematic gold, as Christophe manages to weave an epic that is more consistant in style and performance than the mighty Lord Of The Rings. at a huge 140 minutes (and believe me - it may feel even longer during the film, but you'll be left beggin for more) it could be forgiven for taking it's time shaping the action, relationships, and mystery of the wolf. but Christophe dives you straight in from the first shot, and never lets up for a minute of the 2hr 17 min running time.
the performances are stunning (fan favourite Vincent Cassal is even present) and suprisingly - perhaps the strongest character performance is that of Mark Dacascos as one of the two men sent to destroy the beast. His acting has certainly come a long way since his role as Crying Freeman in Christophes earlier film.
Anyway....this film is startling, and everyone should see it just ot make up there minds...

just don't expect it to keep to the historical facts.....this film is channelled as a ride only.....and what a charged ride it is
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on 21 May 2012
Although the film looks great visually and is loaded with potential, the actual experience of it can leave you somewhat empty. The concept is interesting and some of the fight scenes are certainly impressive. But the characters all seem to bob about randomly with no real defining relationship between each other.
Over halfway through and nothing much had developed beyond swanning about looking fancy, i kept asking myself - what does anyone in this film actually do?!! Even the beast, when revealed, is a tad silly.
Overall it's just a bit meandering and formless. I tried so hard to like it more, i really wanted to, but it was like eating a photograph of a meal. Looked good on paper but no real nourishment and left me feeling hungry (like the wolf).
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on 26 July 2002
mix an american werewolf in london,predeator and enter the dragon and you have this movie....ive seen the subtitled version and its pure beauty to the eyes...the sets,acting,storyline is perfect...the cast is awsome....why isnt mark decasos the new bruce lee.we have lost brandon and he is the closet we have....the action was done by phillip kwok from hard boiled and its a fantastic period piece which you havnt seen the likes of......genius
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Imagine a fairy tale... but with grit, blood, stylized camerawork, and lots of French kung-fu (savate).

That about sums up "Brotherhood of the Wolf," an epic horror/martial-arts/erotic/action movie loosely based on the French legend of the Beast of Gévaudan, but with a chilling story woven around it. Christophe Gans could have given it a bit more character development, but it's a simple flaw in an otherwise terrifying, intense experience.

An enormous, savage wolflike beast is killing young women and children in the French countryside. And so royal naturalist Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Native American sidekick Mani (Mark Dacascos) arrive to investigate, and find that the local authorities are incompetant, the Beast is larger than any wolf, and it's still savaging the locals.

Mani and Grégoire set about tracking down the beast, finding it to be too large and intelligent (and with metal fangs too). But something more sinister than animal attacks is going on -- Fronsac uncovers a mysterious, treasonous society connected to the Beast, and a mysterious courtesan (Monica Belucci) with hidden motives.

It may be based on a real incident, but "Brotherhood of the Wolf" soon takes off into its own storyline. And director Gans crams the whole thing with whatever he likes -- horror, action, fantasy, political period drama, and some French martial arts. It's like an old fairy tale mutated into a live-action anime.

And Gans' direction style can include a little of everything too -- he handles rosy-skied romantic scenes with the same dexterity as raw sex scenes, rainy sludge and bloody chases. And he handles the camera just as well, although the style comes as a bit of a shock in a period film -- it zooms down cliffs and through underbrush, rapid-pans, and lingers on the fairy-tale landscapes of the French countryside.

One of the best examples of this is near the beginning, with Mani and Grégoire encountering a pair of gypsies being bullied, and Mani whipping the bullies with savate and a little la canne. It's a wild, dizzying scene, and thoroughly effective in showing these guys as a force to be reckoned with. But at the same time, Gans wraps the beginning and end in a sense of poignant regret.

If there's a flaw, it's that the plot and rich direction take up so much time that it's hard to wedge in some character development. Bihan fares pretty well as the inscrutable taxidermist, and over the course of the movie, you develop a liking for him and his girlfriend. But it would have been nice if the characters of Mani and Sylvia were explored a bit more than they were -- as it is, Belucci and Dacascos do amazing jobs with their characters.

This horror/action/period/French kung-fu flick breaks all the rules, and it's all the more enjoyable for it. A glorious action classic, and a must-see for cult film lovers.
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on 31 August 2006
When this movie first came out i wasnt sure if it was for me or not especially as its dubbed but i decided to give it a chance and after watching for only a few minutes i was hooked and since then brotherhood of the wolf has become one of my favourite movies. it is a perfect example of good old fashioned story telling and non stop action and adventure! highly recommended.
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on 10 November 2013
I saw this at the cinema when it was originally released.
Ten years later and I couldn't for the life of me remember why I thought it was so awful. So I watched it on DVD. Five minutes in, it all came back to me. Up until the early 1990's American films always had people, men, punching the s*** out of each other. Then John Woo came along and made a few films in America. From then on action/fight scenes are always martial arts. It is the sheer grim predictability of it that makes it irritating. If I see one more film with slow-motion head-kicking....
A lot of the reviewers like this film because of the martial arts. I thought the presence of martial arts in the 18th century French setting utterly ludicrous. And the rest of the story isn't interesting enough to make up this deficit.

The extras on the DVD had a feature about the true basis of the story. It was much more interesting than anything that happened in the film itself! After I watched that I sat and watched the film again, and was quietly re-editing the thing in my head as it went along so that all fights and general ludicrousness were removed. The version of the film that I now have in my mind is far better than the one on the screen.

However, in its favour, this is a gorgeous film to look at - when people aren't kicking each other in the head. Locations, lighting, costumes are all out of the top drawer. That is what I'm awarding the stars for.
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Within the first few minutes of this film you get some idea of what genres the creator of this likes. Opening with a spaghetti western theme with martial arts you would only get the idea of the period by the costumes worn. The setting for this is indeed France 1765 and is a meshing of fiction with two real events, the numerous killings that had been carried out and the legend of the 'Beast of Gevaudan'.

Our hero, Fronsac, a naturalist from the Royal Gardens is sent with his companion and blood brother, the Iroquois, Mani to see what is going on in the province. Fronsac is a sceptic and has no time for the rumours of a werewolf, indeed he finds evidence that it cannot be such a fabled creature. But Fronsac finds himself being used to create a creature responsible for the killings due to Louis XV's Internal Minister, after all the killings seem to be undermining the King's authority and power, and also falling in lovw with Marianne.

Combining numerous different genres this film isn't something that is going to lead to you having a deep philosphical discussion afterwards, but is just for entertainment, showing that the French can have a really good go at taking on Hollywood at their own game. There are some good action/fight sequences here, and yes some nudity.
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