Brotherhood Of The Wolf
Film Length: 144 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
"What truly happened cannot be
found in history books"
I have been hearing about Brotherhood Of The
Wolf on and off for the past year. I have a
friend named Winston whose passion seems to be
martial arts movies. More than once he has been
trying to get me to watch this movie. When it
arrived as a screener last week, I finally had no
excuse to not sit down and watch it.
I don't know exactly what to make of BOTW.
I am not sure that BOTW knows what to make
of itself. Is it an artsy foreign film? Is it drama?
Is it action? Is it horror? Well, to be honest,
it's a little of all of the above plus religion,
aristocracy, martial arts, the occult, sword play,
Brotherhood Of The Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups)
tells the story of a mysterious beast that terrorizes
the Gevaudan province of 18th century France. The
creature, described by the few surviving witnesses
as an enormous wolf, brutally kills women and
children, mostly of the peasant variety, in the
picturesque settings of the French countryside.
In the midst of a torrential storm we meet natural
historian, and adventurer Grégoirede Fronsac (Samuel
Le Bihan) who is despatched by Louis XV to deal
with the problem, accompanied by his companion and
blood brother, Canadian Mohawk Mani (Mark Dacoscos).
They have come to Southeast France to investigate
the murders of several young women. By the way the
bodies have been mutilated it seems that a monstrous
wolf is probably the prime culprit.
The idea of a killer wolf has sent the towns folk
into a terrified state and it is King Louis XV last
resort to have Fronsac work with the police to
capture the beast. But as Fronsac gets closer he
finds that there is a power over the beast that
ranges all the way back to the Catholic Church.
Directed by Christophe Gans, Brotherhood Of The
Wolf sort of takes the elements of The Matrix,
Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
and throws them all together for a loop. Filled
with slow-motion technique and moments when the
camera just stops on the expression of a character's
face, the film is visually exciting and fresh.
How is the transfer?
To sum this transfer up in one word? Gorgeous!
The immaculate transfer does justice to the
French countryside's beauty which is well flaunted,
and the creepy, eerie woods where the beast lives.
There is so much texture to this transfer thanks
to the very natural look and its extremely deep
black levels (such as Mani's jet black hair).
While most of the film takes place either under
rainy skies or in darkness lit by torches, there
is never any picture detail lost. Red becomes
the primary color of this film. You see the
color vividly displayed in scene after scene.
The transfer sometimes has problems handling
the color, occasionally exhibiting slight oversaturation.
While the exterior shots (especially those in the
rain and snow) look as beautiful as a painting,
the interior shots tend to look a little soft and
dull. Really, I am nitpicking here, as this transfer
is a real jaw-dropper.
Before I talk about the 5.1 mix, I must bring up
the fact that this film is presented in its native
French language as well as English dub. There are
two separate tracks that you can select. One rule
of thumb when watching a foreign language film is
to always listen to it in its native language.
English dubs not only tend to be bad, but it also
robs the film of all the original actors' emotions.
I made the mistake of selecting the English 5.1
surround track when starting the film. When I
realized the mistake, I quickly switched to the
French track, and was amazed at how much better
the 5.1 mix was. The rears are totally nonexistent
in the English track compared to the French. As
the film opens, you hear the roar of the crowd
outside the castle in the rear channels. Later,
at the 1 hour mark, Gregoire is sitting looking at
drawings as voices of the past rise from the rear
channels. The rear channel effects of both these
scenes are totally nonexistent in the English 5.1
The 5.1 French surround track is pumped with more
testosterone than any mix in recent memory. If
you don't keep your subwoofer levels down, you will
most likely break a window. I have never heard sound
enhanced as much as this with punches, kicks and
crashes through floors producing such force-pounding
bass. The gallops of horses sound like an approaching
freight train. The bass response was so intense
throughout this film that it was politely asked to
turn it down. The rear channels did a very nice
job of supporting all the outdoor effects, including
some spine-chilling growls of the beast creeping up
Although Universal has put together a rather sparse
collection of extra materials, what is here is fairly
Director Christophe Gans personally introduces
five deleted scenes from the film. Speaking
in French (with English subtitles) he explains these
scenes were never meant to be used for any
hypothetical extended cut, but rather removed for
reasons of pacing or character related inconsistencies.
Gains stays with us throughout the presentation of
these scenes as we first watch a totally re-edited
version of the film's first rainy fight scene filled
with Philip Kwok's action choreography. Afterwards,
we go behind-the-camera and watch the scenes being
shot, as Gans points out the reasons why this
two-day shoot was heavily edited. The second sequence
show's Mani's kinship with animals as he communicates
with a raven. Afterwards we again go behind-the-
camera to watch this scene being shot as Gans talks
about its deletion. The same format continues with
the remaining scenes that include some reframing
shots outside of a church and Fronsac meeting Marianne
on a frozen lake. I really liked the fact that
these deleted scenes contained video supplements
with the Director. Not the sort of thing you often
find, and it is well used here.
A cast and filmmakers section lets you
individually research background on all the
principle cast members as well as Director
Christophe Gans. Production Notes reveals
the real-life historical events of which the film
is based on. There was actually a Beast of Gévaudan
that once ravaged the French countryside.
The film's original theatrical trailer is
Subtitles are English and Spanish.
Talk about totally being sucked into a film for
its nearly 2.5 hour length. Brotherhood Of
The Wolf is an extraordinary lavishly over-
produced martial-arts werewolf movie filled with
lots of imagination and fantasy set against gorgeous
widescreen cinematography. It's just a beautifully
You may not know quite what to make of this film
nor what genre it resides in, but one thing is
for sure -- some of you will be immersed in the
spectacle of it all. It is truly an undeniable
pleasure. I loved it, and I think anyone who
enjoys martial arts and horror fare will love it,
My one regret is just finding out that a 3-disc
Canadian import of this DVD is coming out the
same day as this release. I would much rather have
had the opportunity to make that DVD set the definitive
review, but I feel sort of lucky I managed to see
this film in any of its many DVD versions.
Please give it a viewing!
Release Date: October 1, 2002