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Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups) (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/10/2001

Two out of five stars
Running time: 134 mins

Period horror action film that earns definite points for strangeness, but doesn’t quite pull it off – it successfully blends Matrix-style fight scenes with 18th century period detail, but it’s a good 40 minutes too long and occasionally confusing.

Brotherhood of the Wolf is presumably seeking to emulate the crossover success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, since it contains at least two similar elements: a historical ‘period’ setting and modern fight sequences.

However, where Crouching Tiger had its epic romance angle, this is much more of an out-and-out horror flick, with echoes of The Hound of the Baskervilles amongst other horror films.

The setting is the French district of Gévaudan in 1766. A huge wolf-like creature has been eating young ladies and generally terrorising the populace, though the creature itself has very rarely been seen.

King Louis XV sends two men to lead the hunt: scientist Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Iroquoi Indian companion Mani (Mark Dacascos). The local gentry seem less than keen to help out, however, and soon de Fronsac comes to realise that the creature may hold some much darker secret.

This could easily have been just an ordinary period horror film, were it not for the Matrix-style fight sequences, meaning that all manner of camera-tricks are employed: slow-mo, rapidly moving camera etc, and all to a thumping soundtrack and bone-crunching sound effects.

Unfortunately, however, a lot of these sequences go on far too long, even to the point where some of them are (whisper it) actually boring. Scene after scene involves various henchmen lining up to get beaten up by the heroes and there’s not really anything new done here.

The set design is excellent, and the acting is generally good too. Dacascos in particular makes a lasting impression, and Vincent Cassel is clearly enjoying himself as a psychotic one-armed nobleman, crazed with incestuous desire for his sister.

Le Bihan is a little too blonde and bland to be an engaging hero, but at least Monica Bellucci is on hand to provide ‘le sex appeal’, as the mysterious prostitute de Fronsac hooks up with. (She also has a neat line in razor-tipped accoutrements).

In general, however, this is just too long to sustain interest and could have easily lost a good forty minutes – it drags in several places and the plot is often confusing.

It’s just about worth watching for the odd fight scene and Cassel and Bellucci’s performances, but it’s ultimately disappointing.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 08:55

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