Brotherhood of the Wolf

Starring:
Samuel Le Bihan as Grégoire de Fronsac
Vincent Cassel as Jean-François de Morangias
Emilie Dequenne as Marianne de Morangias
Monica Bellucci as Sylvia
Jérémie Rénier as Thomas d’Apcher
Mark Dacascos as Mani
Jean Yanne as Le Comte de Morangias
Jean-François Stévenin as Henri Sardis
Jacques Perrin as Older Thomas d’Apcher
Johan Leysen as Beauterne
Bernard Farcy as Laffont

Special Features:
Production Notes
Cast & Filmmakers Bios
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
English, French, and Spanish Languages
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Running Time: 2 Hrs. 24 Mins.
Dolby Digital
5.1 Surround
Captions Subtitles

Synopsis:
“Brotherhood of the Wolf” (originally titled “Le Pacte des loups”) is a French film and was originally entirely subtitled in English. This DVD allows you to watch either a dubbed or subtitled version. It is an exotic combination of horror movie, action movie, Hong Kong cinema, and French cinema.

In 18th Century France, a mysterious beast has been killing women and children throughout the countryside. The beast looks like a wolf, but is bigger and more vicious. The King sends Grégoire de Fronsac and his Iroquois Indian blood-brother Mani to investigate the beast. Thus begins the hunt for the animal. However, Fronsac and Mani will find there’s more mystery behind the beast than they could possibly imagine.

“Brotherhood of the Wolf” is rated R for strong violence and gore, and sexuality/nudity.

The Movie:
After repeated viewings, my opinion of it pretty much remains the same. I think it’s a fun mix of action, horror, and French cinema. It’s a nice taste of international filmmaking. In my first viewing I saw it entirely subtitled. While subtitles were not too much of a nuisance, I was glad to find that the DVD also offered a dubbed version. I listened to it in English this time and didn’t find it any more or less enjoyable. When the action comes on, the language is irrelevant anyway.

I was wondering if the dubbed version would have poorer sound quality than the original version, but it all still sounded good to me. The beast walking creates loud thuds over your home theater sound system. When he chomps down on someone, you hear their bones breaking. When Mani kicks someone’s butt, you hear the powerful blows. This film gives your sound system a great workout.

The action scenes still hold up well. The battle between Mani and the beast still had me on the edge of my seat. These repeated viewings made me appreciate the fight choreography even more. I must also admit that the creature CG effects hold up a little better on the small screen than they did on the big screen.

If you’re an action or horror fan, this is one to get.

The Extras:
For a film with such a big cult following, the DVD is surprisingly light on the extras. This is most likely because it is a foreign film, but it is still disappointing. The highlight is, of course, the Deleted Scenes. Presented in a kind of feature format, the presentation is a surprisingly long 45 minutes. Each scene is introduced by director Christophe Gans and everything is subtitled in English.

One of the deleted scenes features an extended opening fight scene. We see Mani beat up the soldiers on the road, then Fronsac jumps off his horse and proceeds to kick their butts. The two then team up to finish them off. I hate to see action get cut from a film, especially when it is as cool as this is. The scene helped to establish that Fronsac can fight for himself. In the original version, we never see him kick butt until the very end, so it’s a little harder to buy. However, as the director says, the fight scene just dragged on too long and took away from moving the story along. It was probably a good move to cut it down.

Another scene showed Fronsac and Sylvia in the brothel more. We get a bizarre glimpse of a hidden room where people can watch what happens in other rooms through two-way mirrors. A particularly freaky (and French) moment takes place in a strange S&M dungeon where an officer of the king is getting…er…reprimanded by one of the ladies. Yet another appropriate cut as it added nothing to the story and was just plain weird.

Most of the other scenes involve the love story between Fronsac and Marianne. You get an appreciation for what the director was trying to do, but when you realize the final cut of the film was 2 hours and 24 minutes, you understand why much of it had to go.

The deleted scenes documentary shows a ton of behind the scenes footage, so that makes me believe they could have put together more extra features for the DVD. I wonder if some sort of special edition will come along later. I would have liked to have seen a feature on the fight scenes, the CG animation, or other aspects of the creation of the film.

The Bottom Line:
If you want a fun, scary action movie to watch over Halloween, this is one to add to your collection. Anyone taking a chance on checking this one out may find themselves pleasantly surprised.

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