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In 1765 something was stalking the mountains of central France. A 'beast' that pounced on humans and animals with terrible ferocity. Indeed they beast became so notorious that the King of France dispatched envoys to find out what was happening and to kill the creature. By the end, the Beast of Gevaudan had killed over 100 people, to this day, no one is entirely sure what it was, wolf? hyena? or something supernatural? Whatever it was, shepherds had the same life-expectancy as the red-suited guys in 'Star Trek'. The Beast is a popular myth in France, albeit one rooted firmly in reality; somewhat surprisingly it is little known to the outside world, and perhaps incredibly it has never been made into a movie. Until now... Based on the true story of the Beast of the Gevaudan that terrorized France in the mid-XVIIIth century, the movie aims to tell first and explain afterwards. In the first part, a special envoy of the King of France, altogether biologist, explorer and philosopher, arrives... Written by
Universal Pictures paid $2 million for the rights to distribute this movie in the United States, and this movie went on grossing $11.2 million in limited theatrical release in the United States, making it the second-highest-grossing French-language movie in the United States since 1980 (this movie also did brisk video and DVD sales in the United States). See more »
The metal claw weapons wiggle when struck in some shots, revealing that rubber look-alikes have been substituted for those shots. See more »
Interestingly eccentric blend of horror, period piece and martial arts - but it loses a lot of steam towards the end
The Beast of Gevaudan roamed the region for three years in the mid-18th century, killing 80 - 100 people in this time range and prompting the king to call upon numerous hunters to track the beast and kill it.
To this day, the Beast is an unsolved mystery. Some claim it was a deranged wolf with a blood lust (since it rarely ate its victims and would instead crush their skulls with its jaw), while others believe it was an extinct species of hyena. Others believe the beast has been exaggerated over the years and it could have merely been an escaped lion. Then there are those who believe it was a trained creature working with a human counterpart - an early serial killer using an animal to help him kill.
The movie is interesting because, like Mark Pellington's "The Mothman Prophecies," it takes an engaging urban legend and instead of trying to find any direct answers or make it a film entirely _about_ the creature itself, it uses the backdrop as a means to explore other elements.
"Le pacte des loups" (The Brotherhood of the Wolf) takes the story of the Beast of Gevaudan and twists it around quite a bit. Some of it works well - the mix of period piece and action movie is a nice blend - but particularly towards the end, once it turns into an unbelievable Jet Li-style martial arts flick, it goes down an awkward path and ruins a lot of what it has already established. It's the one thing that pushes the genre-bender over the edge and it really does feel too bogged down by that point. Also, the revelations during the finale - involving the beast and the plot behind its motivations - are fairly weak.
However, the setup is fine, and the movie is an interesting oddity: a weird little mix of genres that offers a bit for everyone, even if its ending is a let-down.
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