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Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001)
Director: Christophe Gans

review by Debbie Moon

Okay, Brotherhood Of The Wolf (aka: Le Pact des Loups) is a swashbuckling costume drama, martial arts, Hammer-style horror movie with satanists, superstitious peasants, a werewolf, a Native American warrior, and lots of cleavage. It's based on a true story (!) oh, and it's in French. Who said movies are all formulaic these days?
   It's the 18th Century, and the rationalist, forward-thinking Chevalier de Fronsac is despatched to the countryside to investigate a series of deaths. Over a hundred people have been slaughtered by the Beast of the Gevaudan - but what is this terrible, unseen monster? Someone around here must know. But whom? The hostile priest, the decadent aristos? The courtesan with her eye on our hero, or perhaps the delicate upper-class girl he has his eye on..? As the carnage mounts and superstition turns to hysteria, Chevalier and his sidekick, noble warrior Mani, must take on the forces of evil alone...
   If this is beginning to sound like Sleepy Hollow on acid, then you're thinking along the right lines. Gans has a young director's exuberance, which triumphs in the sensuous photography and the stunning fight scenes, but overreaches itself slightly by the end of the overlong and over-complex plot. The performances, particularly martial arts veteran Mark Dascacos as the near silent, permanently unruffled Mani, are convincing, and the special effects imaginative, if not always state-of-the-art.
   It's by no means a perfect film - the satanists are a twist too far, and the courtesan's final revelations even worse - but for a good part of its extensive running time, it's scary, exciting, and unpredictable. And better an ambitious but flawed film than another predictable teen slasher, surely?
Brotherhood Of The Wolf
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