I haven’t written anything myself for a while now, so I decided to practice my writing skills again by writing a movie review. The subject film this time is some fairly recent movie that I saw on television. It’s a French action-horror-adventure-whatever (I watched a dubbed version) flick called the Brotherhood of the Wolf. I remember reading a fairly favourable review for this movie so I decided to watch the whole thing, and here is my review of this film.
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte de Loupes), directed by Christophe Gans, is a somewhat bizarre movie that contains elements from many different genres mixed together into a film that defies usual descriptions, other than the fact that it is a “B” movie. The film basically features a man-eating monster, a handsome hero, a kung-fu fighting sidekick, nice costumes, good-looking women, a secret society, plus a good serving of violence and nudity wrapped together in a plot that make very little sense. Overall, Brother of the Wolf is can be classified as an interesting curiosity, but not much more than that.
The basic story of the movie is actually based on true events in the 1760s, when a creature known as the Beast of Gevaudan killed many people in southern France. In this fictionalized film version, the king of France sends Sir Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) to investigate the killings and capture the beast, and following Sir Gregoire is his “Mohawk Iroquois” half-brother Mani (played by martial arts specialist Mark Dacascos). Along the way, they manage to get into several fights, meet a bunch of local aristocrats who all seem to be hiding something, pay several visits to the nearby brothel, and Fronsac falls in love with a pretty noblewoman (Emilie Dequenne) and gets involved with the mysterious prostitute Sylvia (Monica Bellucci). .
As I have said in the beginning paragraph, Brotherhood of the Wolf is a mishmash of different movie genres. In the very beginning, the film is presented as a horror movie, but as the story progresses the movie starts showing elements from the action (especially martial arts), adventure, and even the mystery genres. Through this infusion of material from different sources, Brotherhood of the Wolf manages to make itself stand out from the crowd of generic forgettable movies as I can’t think another movie that quite like this. The downside of being a mishmash is that the plot is all over the place and features a lot of unexplained events (for example the death and resurrection of the hero) and too many weird and unmemorable characters who don’t seem to serve much purpose.
Brotherhood of the Wolf also suffers from bad pacing, especially in the first hour of the movie, where it’s a lot of talking scenes sporadically filled with action sequences, and that makes for a boring viewing experience. Actually, that’s pretty good description of the entire movie, but at least there is more action near the end, and the subject monster is actually shown on the screen in the latter parts of the film. This brings me to another complaint, which is the fact that we, the audience, don’t see enough of the monster. Supposedly, this Beast is what the main plot revolves around, but it’s barely shown until the last one-third of the film and it wasn’t involved in the final showdown, which was a bit disappointing.
Despite the negatives, Brotherhood of the Wolf does have some things going for it. For one thing, the movie feature some pretty good action sequences and good cinematography during these action sequences, The martial arts fighting is nothing special for someone like me who has seen tons of Hong Kong kung fu movies, but they are more creative and better then what one can find in a typical action movie. The use of techniques such as momentary freeze frames also enhances the action during the fighting and monster-attack-people sequences. The marital arts and camera techniques gives the action sequences a look that’s slightly reminiscent of The Matrix, which is a good thing as most people like these types of cool action sequences.
With its fearsome monster, kung fu action, handsome cast, and crazy plot, Brotherhood of the Wolf feels like a tribute to all those “B” class horror, action, and adventure movies out there. The film has its ups and downs, but overall Brotherhood of the Wolf is an entertaining movie, though it isn’t anything great. If you are into martial arts action, computer generated monsters, movies that feature lots of stuff from different genres, or you just don’t have anything to do for 2 hours or so then you might want to give this movie a look.