×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brotherhood of the Wolf

A little Sergio Leone here, a little "Sleepy Hollow" there and, uh, martial arts-style confrontations are all deftly melded in "Brotherhood of the Wolf," an attempt to elucidate the French urban legend of the Beast of Gevaudan. This is a home-grown French actioner that wears its sincere desire to entertain on its flamboyantly tailored sleeve.

With:
Gregoire de Fronsac - Samuel Le Bihan Mani - Mark Dacascos Marianne de Morangias - Emilie Dequenne Jean-Francois de Morangias - Vincent Cassel Sylvia - Monica Bellucci Thomas d'Apcher - Jeremie Renier Le Comte de Morangias - Jean Yanne Henri Sardis - Jean-Francois Stevenin Marquis d'Apcher - Hans Meyer Mme De Morangias - Edith Scob

A little Sergio Leone here, a little “Sleepy Hollow” there, a grand helping of late royal-era Gaul with its wigs and finery, and, uh, martial arts-style confrontations galore are all deftly melded in “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” an attempt to elucidate the French urban legend of the so-called Beast of Gevaudan — a giant, invincible, wolf-like creature that killed more than 100 people in the 1760s. Highbrow crix may gnash their teeth, but this is a home-grown French actioner that wears its sincere desire to entertain on its flamboyantly tailored sleeve.

One of the most expensive extravaganzas ever produced in France, pic borrows from many genres but infuses the hybrid with a distinctive, relentlessly flashy style that’s sure to appeal to auds raised on computer games and tailored to delight the legions of nerds who support horror, fantasy and sci-fi pics made by fellow aficionados. (Tyro helmer Christophe Gans founded the renegade film mag Starfix two decades ago at age 20.)

Pic has been sold to many territories, but in those still available, distribs with a hankering to attract young auds to subtitled fare — a task that may be substantially easier now that “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” has re-broken the long-frozen ice — might be able to turn a profit with this elaborate and slickly made adventure. Pic will seem overly long and a tad repetitive to viewers who can get enough of “Matrix”-style skirmishes and painstakingly overblown sound design, but probably will feel just right to its target audience. All of the estimated 220 million franc ($31 million) budget is definitely on screen.

Inspired by the still-unexplained killing spree between 1764 and 1767, during Louis XV’s reign, pic is told in flashback by a nobleman about to fall into the hands of the great unwashed during the permutation of the French Revolution known as The Terror. Narrative odyssey throws in everything but the kitchen sink: heaving bosoms, witty banter, hallucinogens, political expediency, religious zealots, violent ambushes, helpless maidens, an impatient monarch and enticing loose women — all sandwiched in-between very cool fights.

The film’s major accomplishment is in creating and pretty much sustaining a brooding, quasi-dangerous mood riddled with anachronistic pop touches that somehow fit. The tale feels serious — even though it’s all over the map and about to fall off the edge.

Chevalier Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a naturalist, has been dispatched from his duties in the king’s gardens to track down the beast, and sketch and stuff it for posterity. He is accompanied by Mani (former martial arts champ Mark Dacascos), a Canadian Indian who has little to say to humans but speaks fluent Nature.

De Fronsac takes an immediate liking to Marianne de Morangias (Emilie Dequenne, star of “Rosetta”), the spirited daughter of Count de Morangias (Jean Yanne, amusingly laconic) and his flitty wife (Edith Scob). De Fronsac gets the cold shoulder from Marianne’s one-armed brother Jean-Francois (a snarling, imperious Vincent Cassel), who lives to hunt, fashioning his own silver bullets.

The small town supports a suspiciously well-populated brothel where the dark, mysterious Sylvia (Monica Bellucci) tells fortunes and blandishes her pricey, possibly demonic favors on De Fronsac. Every so often, the unseen beast pursues some fetching innocent and does a Cuisinart number on her with its colossal jaws. Lithe and effortlessly charismatic as the Canadian Indian, Dacascos gets to strut his compelling stuff; as the hunter-naturalist, the versatile Le Bihan is always fun to watch, but doesn’t burn up the screen in the same way as his intense sidekick. Dequenne’s charming and classy perf should silence any curmudgeons who still don’t think she deserved (her half of) best actress honors at Cannes in 1999, while the shapely Bellucci lends over-the-top exoticism to the never remotely staid mix.

The animatronics as well as the contributions from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop don’t top the fighting skeletons in “Jason and the Argonauts,” but there’s plenty of time to speculate about what the beast looks like before it’s finally fully revealed on screen. Gans’ delight in moving the camera is matched by impressive attention to costumes and accessories, as well as pro touches like visible breath in winter-set scenes.

Brotherhood of the Wolf

France

Production: A Metropolitan Filmexport release of a StudioCanal/Davis Films production, in association with TF1 Films Prod., with participation of Natexis Banques Populaires Images and Studio Image Soficas. (International sales: StudioCanal, Boulogne-Billancourt, France.) Produced by Richard Grandpierre, Samuel Hadida. Directed by Christophe Gans. Screenplay, Gans, Stephane Cabel; story and dialogue, Cabel.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Dan Laustsen; editors, David Wu, Sebastien Prangere; music, Joseph Lo Duca; production designer, Guy Claude Francois; costume designer, Dominique Borg; sound (Dolby), Jean-Paul Mugel, Leslie Shatz, Patrick Dodd, Nicolas Becker, Cyril Holtz; fight choreographer, Philip Kwok; beast designer, Igor Chevalier; beast effects and visual effects producer, Jim Henson's Creature Shop; mechanical and pyrotechnic special effects, Georges Demetrau; visual effects supervisor, Sebastien Caudron; animatronic effects, Jamie Courtier; CGI, Arthur Windus, Val Wardlaw; assistant director, Lionel Steketee; second unit directors, William Gereghty, Shaun O'Dell; casting, Nathalie Cheron. Reviewed at UGC Normandie, Paris, Jan. 10, 2001. Running time: 143 MIN.

With: Gregoire de Fronsac - Samuel Le Bihan Mani - Mark Dacascos Marianne de Morangias - Emilie Dequenne Jean-Francois de Morangias - Vincent Cassel Sylvia - Monica Bellucci Thomas d'Apcher - Jeremie Renier Le Comte de Morangias - Jean Yanne Henri Sardis - Jean-Francois Stevenin Marquis d'Apcher - Hans Meyer Mme De Morangias - Edith ScobWith: Jacques Perrin, Johan Leysen, Bernard Farcy, Virginie Darmon, Philippe Nahon, Nicolas Vaude, Nicky Naude , Daniel Herroin, Eric Prat, Jean-Loup Wolff, Jean-Paul Farre, Andre Penvern, Bernard Fresson, Franckie Pain, Francois Hadji-Lazaro, Karin Kristrom, Juliette Lamboley.

More Film

  • Sauvages

    Claude Barras’ ‘Sauvages’ Pitches Potential Partners at Cannes Film Market

    Claude Barras, director of the breakout Academy Award nominated hit “My Life as a Zucchini,” is returning to stop motion animation for his next feature “Sauvages,” a socially conscious tale set in the jungles of Borneo. Producer Rhea Plangg attended this year’s Cannes Film Market to foster negotiations with potential production partners. “Sauvages,” a working [...]

  • Pop Up Film Residency Announces New

    Pop Up Film Residency Announces New Talents, Partners for 2019

    CANNES–The Pop Up Film Residency, a mentorship program launched this year by former TorinoFilmLab artistic director Matthieu Darras and Slovak producer Juraj Krasnohorsky, has announced three new residents, four new hosts, and two new creative partners for 2019. Based in Bratislava, the program offers a three-week residency in Slovakia each month, along with a series [...]

  • 'Super Pets' Release Date Pushed Back

    Film News Roundup: 'Super Pets' Movie Moves Back a Year, Avoiding 'John Wick 4'

    In today’s film news roundup, “Super Pets” has moved back to 2022, “Into the Ashes” gets bought and veteran executive David Gale has a new gig. RELEASE DATE Warner Bros. has pushed back the release of “DC Super Pets” back a year, avoiding opening against “John Wick 4.” The studio announced Wednesday that “Super Pets” [...]

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino Documentary 'QT8: The First Eight' Scores Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Wood Entertainment has completed sales for France, Germany, Turkey, Italy and Russia for “QT8: The First Eight,” a documentary that chronicles Quentin Tarantino’s first eight films. The first buyers’ screening took place on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival. Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” premiered at Cannes on Tuesday night. Producer [...]

  • 'Asbury Park' Doc Covers Bruce Springsteen,

    Film Review: 'Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock 'N Roll'

    A civic Phoenix story is promised and effectively delivered in “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll,” even if there’s little doubt that what much of the audience will be hoping for from this documentary is Bruce, the whole Bruce and nothing but the Bruce. The film satisfies a good portion of that craving with [...]

  • Timothy Olyphant Once Upon a Time

    Timothy Olyphant Explains Why He Did 'Hitman' Movie

    The 2007 film adaptation of the “Hitman” video game franchise is … not good. It received a score of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics panning its incoherent plot and terrible dialogue. So, why did actor Timothy Olyphant take on the lead role as Agent 47? He had a mortgage to pay, he told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content