"Costume drama, Action flick, Horror movie, Political potboiler...in French."
Wild, beautiful to look at, and unabashedly wacky, Brotherhood of the Wolf is proof positive that Hollywood doesn't own exclusive rights to the "Enjoyable B-Movie".French director Christophe Gans (Crying Freeman, Necronomicon) has patched together one of the most strangely beautiful movies ever to reach American shores. Equal parts Jaws, Sleepy Hollow, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the classic tale of Beowulf, this movie is a slick, entertaining and visually stunning surprise. And yes, it's in French. Those averse to subtitles need not apply.
While it's loosely based on the true tale of "The Beast of Gevaudan", Brotherhood of the Wolf is most assuredly a "fiction" piece. Although there were a rash of unexplained deaths around that French town in the late 18th century, the movie branches away from the legend and offers its own peculiar interpretation.
The King of France has dispatched biologist and all-around nature export Cheavlier de Fronsac to the besiged town in the hopes of eliminating the beast. Over the course of several months, an unseen wolf has been devouring villagers unfortunate enough to been caught alone on the moors. Fronsac arrives with his mysterious sidekick Mani, a Native American fighter he met up with in New France. (That's Canada to you and me.)
Through the course of his investigations, Fronsac encounters friend and foe, discovers some rather unsavory political machinations, a cadre of unpleasant woods-folk and finds himself forced to battle man and beast. All in all, the plotline of Brotherhood of the Wolf is relatively familiar, but the film succeeds for numerous other reasons.
Visually, this one is a real feast. The breathtaking landscapes of 18th century France are depicted quite wonderfully, Gans's operatic flair with his camera is evident throughout, and the numerous battle sequences are a joy to behold. Imagine if Michael Bay and Tim Burton co-directed an old fashioned werewolf flick, and then John Woo dropped in to helm the fight scenes.If you think all foreign films are stuffy and inaccessible, here's solid comic-book of a movie that will make you feel more cultured. While a few unintentionally humorous moments are peppered throughout, Brotherhood of the Wolf manages to enthrall and entertain for most of its ample running time.