Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loupes)
You've never seen a movie like 2001's Brotherhood of the Wolf, and that makes it rather tricky to describe. See, it's a costume drama, chock full o' court intrigue and political machinations ... and it's a mystery ... and it's an ultra-gory werewolf movie. Oh, and there's amazing, kinetic martial arts action. Christophe Gans' stunning film takes off on the real-life French legend of the Beast of Gevaudin, which brutally killed over a hundred women and children in an isolated region of south-central France between 1765 and 1768 during the reign of King Louis XV. The corpses bore the marks of a savage attack by an enormously powerful, ferocious animal; eye-witnesses described a huge red wolf prowling the area, and the vicious attacks became famous throughout France. Gans' film follows a libertine scientist named Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), sent by King Louis to find out what, exactly, is terrorizing the region. Accompanied by his blood brother Mani (Mark Dacascos), an Iroquois Indian he met while serving in the Americas, Fronsac is helped in his quest by the powerful Marquis Thomas d'Apcher (Jeremie Renier), dallies with a breathtakingly beautiful prostitute (Monica Bellucci), and falls in love with the requisite virginal aristocrat, Marianne de Morangais (Emilie Dequenne). But as Fronsac investigates, the plot thickens; What's the deal with the spooky secret society? How is the prostitute involved in all this? And what about that guy with one arm? Shot on locations in Paris, the Pyrenees, the South of France, and Cornwall, Brotherhood of the Wolf takes the traditional costume drama and stands it on its ear, injecting kick-ass fight scenes, electrifying action, and unflinching horror, all wrapped up in an enthralling mystery that's so gorgeously photographed it'll take your breath away. Universal's DVD release is a real treat the anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) is sharp, rich, and beautiful, doing real justice to Dan Laustsen's exquisite cinematography. There's a lot of darkness, shadow, and candlelight here, and it all comes across as beautiful as on the big screen. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is superb as well. The disc's offerings are slim, but the deleted scenes are presented in precise detail by Gans, who explains that they were all cut either for reasons of pacing or because they created "character inconsistencies"; one real bonus here is a very extended cut of the opening fight scene. Cast-and-crew notes, theatrical trailer. Keep-case.