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on January 6, 2004
3 DISC SPECIAL EDITION
Special Features
(all special features are in French WITH English subtitles unless otherwise noted)
:: Two Commentaries (in French with NO English subs)
:by actors Samuel Le Bihan and Vincent Cassel
:by director Christophe Gans
:: Deleted Scenes
:: "The Guts of the Beast" Documentary - 78 min.
:: "Behind the Scenes" Documentary - 78 min.
:: Filmographies
:: Trailer
:: "The Legend" Documentary
:: Storyboards
:: Photo Gallery
:: Production Notes Booklet
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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 June 27, 2004
Wow! Four out of five. Three out of five. You have to be joking don't you? This movie is perfection. Pure, true, honest, stylish. Of course Americans get a bit ruffled when a 'foreign' film shows the good old US of A how 'it's done' yet again. You folk like you're movies with justification, explanation and gradification... all tied up in a bow. This movie is not sugar covered and goes in depth within (I won't give it away for those that have not seen it) an area that goes way back in time and is still happening today (Bohemiam Grove hint hint etc)which has always fascinated me. So why would you not like it? Firstly that pesky 'other' language (yes, it's in French - and so it should be) makes those of less IQ's have to read. Pesky pesky. Secondly it has many layers as a movie and does not always have to explain EVERYTHING that is going on, and instead relies on the intellect of it's viewers and allows us to progress on the journey and make up our own minds as to how, why and who. I will not go into 'explaining' the film as it is done already in the top review and you all seem to explain it over and over again. I am not French as you may all think, and instead an Aussie relieved and satisfied that a certain standard of perfection is retained in some movies in the world. Erotic, scary, action, suspense, intelligent, beautiful. Simply one of the best movies I have seen this year. (I'll put money on it that America will remake this movie very soon... and yet again bugger up another classic foreign film that should have been left well alone! Please don't! I beg you!)
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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, seductive courtesan (Monica Belucci) with hidden motives of her own.

It may be based on a real incident, but "Brotherhood of the Wolf" soon takes off into its own storyline, and relishes every minute. And Christophe Gans crams the whole thing with whatever he likes -- horror, action, fantasy, political period drama, romance, sex, 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, including the aftermath of the beast's attacks. 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, even with just their feet, hands and sticks. But at the same time, Gans wraps the beginning and end in a sense of poignant regret, as well as certain scenes of loss.

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 who finds himself involved in this mess, 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, an earthily beautiful agent and a butt-kicking Iroquois.

It took awhile for the deluxe director's cut to arrive, but it was worth it -- extra scenes put back in (including a subplot), interviews with experts on the REAL event, and some wonderfully raw, deglossed documentaries on the making of the movie.

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 August 24, 2014
I watched this movie when I was a kid. I was so impressed at that time: atmosphere was different, storey was original, acting mesmerizing... Now, I cannot find any of these elements. Planing to watch it again ....
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on April 11, 2003
I went to watch the movie because it's International Film Festival in Christchurch & that, in accordance to the description, it was the highest gross movie in France to-date. When there was also this commentary about this movie being a mish mash of Jaws, Matrix, Crouching Tiger, I thought to myself this movie has got potential. I have always expected French movie to be a bit out of this world but then again, there is a word to describe it, flair~ Anyhow, when the movie started, it definitely showed a glint of promise, with those slow motion cinematography, hinting slowly at John Woo style, & with the ocassional multi angle Matrix style fighting style. However, the movie went downhill from here. The main characters looked very much like Christopher Lambert in his heydays & his brother, an Iroquois was none other than the actor who played the TV series, the Crow. Towards the end of the movie, the style became looser & looser & the plot also became incoherent. The killing style was more fitting to a mish mash of From Dusk Till Dawn (Quentin Taratino style), Bollywood style movies with a dash of HK style kung-fu movies. Anyway, you can probably describe this movie as an international effort, or probably you can say that this movie is also trying to be Jack of all trade but as you know how the saying goes, and the master of none. Naturally, Monica Belluchi from Malena was underutilised here. Other than displaying her voluptuous body, her role as a high class prostitute & working for the Pope to investigate the mystery of the monster which devoured people here were questionable. A movie worth watching for a good laugh and not necessarily for its quality. Should this movie is really the highest gross movie in France, obviously, the audience tends to differ from my opinion
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on March 24, 2003
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (Le Pacte des Loups, 2001): In 18th century France, a brave young naturalist (Samuel Le Bihan [TROIS COULEURS ROUGE]) and his Native American companion (Mark Dacascos [DRIVE]) are hired to trace the origins of a bloodthirsty 'beast' which has been terrorizing the countryside, killing women and children. But their investigations uncover an appalling conspiracy which cuts to the very heart of French high society...
Loosely based on true events, this high-powered Gallic blockbuster - directed by Christophe Gans, hired on the strength of his incredible genre-bending adaptation of CRYING FREEEMAN - wowed French audiences when released in 2001. And no wonder! A high-kicking combination of horror movie, period drama, political thriller and 'Matrix'-inspired kung fu pageant, the film combines the best elements of these disparate sub-genres in a dazzling display of technical wizardry. Photographed in widescreen Super 35 by Dan Laustsen (MIMIC, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN), and played with solemn conviction by an all-star cast - including relative newcomers Vincent Cassel (LA HAINE), Monica Bellucci (the MATRIX sequels) and Jeremie Renier (LES AMANTS CRIMINELS), and veterans Jean Yanne (most recently seen in BELLE MAMAN) and Edith Scob (the elegant heroine of Franju's LES YEUX SANS VISAGE) - the movie is a riot of action and intrigue, sustained by a multilayered screenplay (co-authored by Gans and Stephane Cabel) which recounts an elaborate fable of class warfare and religious bigotry during a grim period of French history. The fight scenes - choreographed with ruthless efficiency by Hong Kong movie veteran Phillip Kwok (MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, HARD-BOILED, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, etc.) - are fashioned with elegant grace, and edited to perfection by Sebastien Prangere and David Wu Dai-wai (another prominent HK movie figure, Ronny Yu Yan-tai's current editor of choice). Much of the film's otherworldly visual texture is due to the sumptuous art direction (by Guy-Claude Francois [JEFFERSON IN PARIS]) and costume design (by Dominique Borg), which roots proceedings in a recognizable period 'style', despite Gans' resolutely modern approach to the material. It shouldn't work, but it does, somehow. The 'explanation' for the beast and its murderous activities - which takes into account a wide range of modern research into the story of an animal which really DID terrorize the French countryside during the 18th century - forms the backbone of the entire production, and while much of the film is a rip-roaring joy, the climactic sequences are offset by an element of tragedy and sadness, which thoroughly distinguishes the movie from most of its Hollywood counterparts. All in all, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is a magnificent folly, way ahead of its time, and quite unlike anything ever made before.
This review is based on a viewing of the Canadian disc from TVR Films which presents the original French version in its entirety (the international version, including the one released in the US and UK, appears to be shorter by about 10 minutes) and runs 150m 34s, minus the logos which open the video print and weren't part of the original production, and letterboxes the scope frame at 2.35:1 (anamorphically enhanced). The US disc - a region 1 release from Universal - is a no-frills affair which features a letterboxed anamorphic version of the shorter print, and some reviews suggest it's a better-looking transfer than the one featured on the Canadian disc. Captions and subtitles are provided. The Canadian version, however, is a 3-disc spectacular, and features (amongst many other things) an extremely frank documentary on the making of the film which opens with an actress being clobbered during an accident on-set, and proceeds to outline the various obstacles which constantly threatened the production schedule (not least the unpredictable weather during location shooting) and ultimately strained relations between director Gans and co-producer Samuel Hadida. That such a remarkable film emerged from these traumatic circumstances says much about the talent and dedication of these extraordinary gentlemen and all those who helped bring their unique vision to the silver screen. A triumph.
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on February 8, 2003
This is a classy over-the-top action adventure combining elements of Three Musketeers(-2)Swordplay...substituting Kung-Fu adepts... with Sherlock Holmes (Hound of the Baskervilles)mystery set in Pre-Revolutionary France. Samuel Le Bihan and Mark Dacascos play two agents On His Majesty's Secret Service sent to unravel the Mystery of THE BEAST ravaging the countryside. Beautiful, moody photography ports the adventurers and viewer into the belly of the Beast and a Masonic conspiracy to frighten both a decadent Monarchy and Catholic peasantry into continued, obsequious submission to the corrupt Aristocracy.
Director Christophe Gans is not really interested in a history lesson on intrique among the Three Estates.THE BROTHERHOOD of the WOLF is a New Fashioned Swashbuckler with bad bad guys to be done-in and beautiful damsels to be rescued. The bad guys are worthy opponents and the damsels certainly worthy of being rescued.The movie is a bit too long and the outcome(resolution of the mystery and ID's of the evil dudes and dudettes) predictable. But so what? Fear, decadence and danger are conveyed masterfully with ghostly, rain-soaked vistas; wolves loping through blizzard-blanketed forests and castles as inviting as Purgatorial antechambers echoing eerie cries of Lost Souls below. This is a good movie; the French subtitling does not distract and with some judicious editing (monitoring)the R rating could easily be scrapped for the well-made, unpretentious Good-Guys vs. Bad Guys (Wolf's)Tale it is...
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on December 29, 2002
I must say that the title and the advertisments I saw beforehand are all very misleading as to the content of this movie. I watched the movie, expecting a werewolf flick and was utterly dissapointed. And if that is what you are expecting, you will be too. But forget for a moment that there is NO werewolf in the whole movie. Instead of starting with what the movie doesn't have, let's deal with what it has in it's favor.
The movie is visually very pleasing, very lush. The scenery draws you in and creates a very tense, mysterious surrounding for the story. It is the surrounding scenery that sets the mood of the movie and creates the suspense as much as the story line. It is the scenery that makes you keep watching long after the plot has become hopelessly tangled.
Some of the charcters are equally suspensful and mysterious. But unfortunately, while the costumes are beautiful and effective, the character development leaves much to be desired. While you do feel a certain concern for the lead characters, I really wish that they had developed them more. Especially the character of the prostitute (actually a spy for the Pope). This character could have had so much more done with it.
But the real fault of this movie lies in it's story line. For one thing, there are too many characters to keep track of with any efficiency . And since they are not developed well, many of them become quite forgetable. Also the plot is just too convoluted to make any sense. It starts out ok - but as soon as you realize that the werewolf is actually a lion dressed in armor trained to kill by a member of a religous cult...well, all in all, a werewolf would have made more sense.
I'm giving this movie three stars because, despite the plot going completely awry, this movie is so visually enthralling that you find yourself watching it anyway. You find yourself sitting in your chair thinking, "This plot makes no sense, but it's such a beautifully constructed setting -so eerie, so mornful, so mysterious - I've just got to see the rest of it."
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on September 25, 2003
This is the definitive collector's edition. Three DVDs, packed with extras, making of, uncut version (over 8 minutes longer). It is a very good movie with excellent photography and ambience. It is a very different style compared to what hollywood usually spoon feeds to their audiences, and I loved its mixture of genre.
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