Le pacte des loups (2001)

reviewed by
Steve Rhodes

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****):  * 1/2

What do you get when you try to make a costume drama/horror movie that is a cross between THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, EYES WIDE SHUT and a Hong Kong martial arts extravaganza? A mess. Christophe Gans's BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (LE PACTE DES LOUPS) plays like it was produced by Merchant and Ivory and scripted by SHOWGIRLS's Joe Eszterhas.

Featuring the silliest looking monster this side of the artwork on display at your child's kindergarten class, it's the first movie in some time in which the special effects budget was obviously way too low. Its beast, which looks like a papier-mâché dinosaur, jumps around like a cheap monster from a bad 1950's sci-fi flick. Although this can only make you laugh, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is no (intentional) comedy.

Set in 1764, the story is based on a French legend, which, one hopes, is better than its movie version. Long and meandering, the movie never gives you any reason to care about it. I had a friend who told me that she fell asleep watching it. I wish I could have. With barely enough material for a short picture, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF runs almost two-and-a-half hours. Try to remember this when, after an hour and a quarter, it looks like it will put you out of your misery by ending. Just when you think the credits will start rolling, the action begins again. Sigh.

A jarring mix of genres, it has two long episodes which occur in a whorehouse in which gentlemen can partake of two-for-one specials and spank bare bottoms. They can also enjoy the thrill of watching a prostitute stick them with knives and lick the blood while having sex with them. What a turn on, huh? Ugh.

With jump cuts and slo-mo editing, the film has the most modern look since the disastrous remake of THE MUSKETEER, which also featured karate moves in eighteenth century France. Hey, how about a martial arts update of SPARTACUS next? Just kidding. I hope.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF runs a very long 2:22. The film is in French with English subtitles. It is rated R for "strong violence and gore, and sexuality/nudity" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

The film opens nationwide in the United States in December 2001. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the Camera Cinemas.

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