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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Brotherhood Of The Wolf" (with screenshots)

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#1 of 257 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 02 2002 - 07:42 AM

Posted Image

Brotherhood Of The Wolf

Studio: Universal
Year: 2001
Rated: R
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
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,
and more!

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.

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

Directed by Christophe Gans, Brotherhood Of The
sort of takes the elements of The Matrix,
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?

Posted Image

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

Posted Image

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
from behind.

Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

Although Universal has put together a rather sparse
collection of extra materials, what is here is fairly

Posted Image

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
also included.

Subtitles are English and Spanish.

Final Thoughts

Posted Image

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
stylized film!

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


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 257 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 02 2002 - 07:53 AM

Our favorite on-line retailer is offering the 3-Disc Canadian import as a preorder item for those interested in ordering it.




Blu-ray Preorder Listing


#3 of 257 OFFLINE   AdamZ


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Posted September 02 2002 - 07:59 AM

Do Canadian DVD's work on players purchased here in America and also what is the difference between the three disc set and this one. And is this worth a blind purchase?
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#4 of 257 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:05 AM

First off, nice review Ron. Happy to see the film has gained another fan. I am SO envious that you have this DVD. I first saw the film theatrically early this year and have been expectantly looking forward to this release since that time.

Nice to hear that the transfer does justice to the film's lush visual style. BTW, as I recall some of the dimmer interior shots were softer when compared to some of the exterior shots that exhibited razor sharpness. Sounds like the DVD replicated that characteristic faithfully.

Re: the Canadian 3 disc release. Does anyone know if this will have an English soundtrack option for the film and SE content, or will it be French only?

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#5 of 257 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:07 AM

Here are some links with disc information.

3-Disc Canadian DVD

Universal DVD




Blu-ray Preorder Listing


#6 of 257 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:14 AM

Walter, since you shouldn't be listening to the dub anyway, why does it matter?

Thanks for the OSL push Ron. Universal is going to get creamed by the flood of Canadian imports, and yes they work on R1 players

#7 of 257 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:14 AM


Thanks. BTW, my main concern has to do with the availability of English for supplements on the Canadian release, as I intent to view the film with the original French track. ( Before anyone jumps on me about using a dubbed track. Posted Image )

- Walter.

Edit: Too late I see.
Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#8 of 257 OFFLINE   Jon Smith

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:20 AM

havent actually read the review, but can i ask quickly, is this the Directors Cut of the movie ?

and the 3 Disc Canadian set.

the extras all have english subs apart from the commentary, so i have heard. Hope that helps

#9 of 257 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:29 AM

Yes, the entire disc has English subs, don't know about the commentary
Cover art is lovely

Walter, sorry bout that, but there are so many people that are too lazy to respect the way a film is meant to be seen. THey kick and scream about P&S and DTS tracks, but don't care when an actor's performance gets P&Sd

#10 of 257 OFFLINE   Randy B A

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:41 AM

Going by the link to the canadian release, it looks like there is a dts track that is not on the U.S. release.

#11 of 257 OFFLINE   Jeff_HR



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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:43 AM

I have the 3-Disc Canadian import pre-ordered also. The commentaries do not have subs according to this site:DVD Times. I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks for the nice review. It would have been great if you could have gotten the 3-Disc Canadian import for your review.
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#12 of 257 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:45 AM

Looks like our friends in the U.S. will be subjected to the bilingual artwork should they decide to order the 3-disc set from Canada.

Although in this case, it's probably a small price to pay for a nice SE.

#13 of 257 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted September 02 2002 - 08:50 AM

Jeff K. - No problem. I'm in complete agreement, and should have worded my first post more carefully.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#14 of 257 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:07 AM

I'm still up in the air about this one. I came out of the theaters wondering if I ever really wanted to see this film again. While it does sound like a nice disc, I'll probably go rental and see if my opinion changes.

The Mads are calling

#15 of 257 OFFLINE   Kyle McKnight

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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:14 AM

Jeff Kleist wrote:
Walter, sorry bout that, but there are so many people that are too lazy to respect the way a film is meant to be seen.

Yes, I assume the film was meant to be seen with English subtitles on it? Come on Jeff, don't have people substitute one problem for the other....have them learn a new language Posted Image
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#16 of 257 OFFLINE   Anthony Thorne

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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:27 AM

It's my understanding that while the commentary tracks (apparently) don't have subs, the exclusive documentaries and other featurettes on the 3-disc set will. There was a HTF thread confirming this some weeks ago.

Great movie, BTW! Ron, I saw this in a packed theater (with great sound) at a Melbourne Film Festival last year, and the entire audience was blown away! It's cool that you've had a chance to watch it, and like it as much as most of here also do. I hope that more folks here at HTF give it a shot if they haven't seen it already.

#17 of 257 OFFLINE   Matthew Chmiel

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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:32 AM

My friend and I saw this in theaters back in January and we were both blown away by it. One of the better films of the year.

Come October 1st, the 3 disc set from Canada will be mine.

#18 of 257 OFFLINE   NickFoley


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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:31 AM

Loved it in the theaters, and Im going to love it on DVD.

Its truly a shame that the French edition didnt include an english subtitle track. Otherwise I would have to import that version pronto.

#19 of 257 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted September 02 2002 - 09:55 AM

I will certainly pick up the 3 disc version with DTS on October 1st. In this case, bilingual artwork will not bother me one bit. The film is french after all.Posted Image This will be a first time watch for me...but considering the subject matter- martial arts, horror....it's right up my alley.Posted Image
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#20 of 257 OFFLINE   Mathias Klemme

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Posted September 02 2002 - 10:06 AM

What's up with that cover art...ugh! The original poster art looks great. What have they done?