Brotherhood Of The Wolf

Brotherhood Of The Wolf

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A martial arts monster movie, with romantic overtones, in 18th century France is pushing your luck. Who is going to believe an Asiatic-looking Native American kickboxing his way through a gang of murderous thugs without breaking sweat? As for the monster, the Jim Henson Creature Shop must have been hiring students on work experience when this contract came in.

Although there is a basis of truth about the story, you could wager your granny's bed linen that it's hogwash. During the 1760s over 100 peasants were killed by the Beast of Gevaudan. It was considered so shocking that Louis XV sent his Lord Lieutenant from Paris to find the animal and dispatch it. He came back with a dead wolf. Soon afterwards the attacks continued.

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In the film, a naturalist (Samuel Le Bihan) with an eye for the ladies and his faithful Native American friend (Mark Dacascos) take it upon themselves to find the creature. When they are not fighting off big men with untidy haircuts, they are in the bordello, or enjoying dins at the chateau with pompous racists. The Beast, meanwhile, is doing nasty things to pretty girls in the forest.

There is too much social life, cluttering the screen with aristocrats. Le Bihan is a handsome fellow with enough charm to sink a flotilla of schoolgirls and Dacascos is a dab foot at the Bruce Lees. The fight sequences are choreographed by a man called Kwok from Hong Kong, but don't imagine this is Crouching Poodle, Hidden Frog.

The plot sinks into absurdity, as dead people are resurrected and the Beast is exposed as a mechanical porcupine. The most interesting sub-plot is the role of an Italian tart, played by the ravishing Monica Bellucci. She's up to no good, it seems, or maybe not. It's hard to tell. Whatever she's doing seems more fun than chasing a wind-up toy in the woods.

Christophe Gans can't keep his finger off the slo-mo button. He particularly likes the cantering horse at quarter speed, or that boot in the face from the lithe Dacascos. When a sexy shepherdess is about to be Hensoned by The Thing, he goes for stop/start photography to fully appreciate the look of horror on her sweet face. This is not a film that needs a director. It needs someone to say: "Action!" and someone to say: "Stop snogging in the corner." The rest can be cut out of a comic book.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2001
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A naturalist philanderer and kick-boxing Native American search for a peasant-eating beast in 18th century.
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Director: Christophe Gans

Writer: Stephane Cabel

Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Jeremie Renier, Jacques Perrin, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, Jean Francois Stevenin

Year: 2001

Runtime: 137 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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