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OK... that line was from the movie (or some variation of that line)... what
do the French think the rest of the world is... IGNORANT? These were two
different Native American Nations... VERY different.
Also, why did this movie feel like some sort of late night soft porn HBO b-movie? Those sediments also reflect the acting as well as the poor martial arts. You know the martial arts in a movie is PATHETIC when the camera gets too close to the character and the audience cannot tell what the heck is going on! ZOOM IN! PAN OUT! ZOOM IN! PAN OUT! Enough of that already... that was an 80's, early 90's era trick to make the audience think the martial arts was good. No longer... examples are Crouching Tiger, the Matrix, Once Upon a Time in China, Fong Sai Yuk... etc. etc.
Not even worth a rental...
Since I'm a big fan of Vincent Cassel and horror movies I was looking forward to seeing "Le pacte des loups". Unfortunately the movie was a complete letdown. Started out interesting but then the story got more and more ridiculous. It seemed as if the makers didn't know what they wanted: action? horror? romance? drama? All and nothing. The martial arts were the coolest thing but didn't quite fit in. In the end I was glad when it was over.
Every time a new genre was added to the mix it surprised me to the point of laughter. This movie seems to have been thrown together by many minds - all with a different vision of how to tell the story. It started out as a period film about the mysterious deaths in 18th century France, there was horror (expected) - then someone decided to add the action of martial arts with ferocious kick-boxing bouts. Someone decided to add prostitution, sword fighting, a desperate romance, the supernatural, and Frankenstein-esque science fiction, and all the blood and gore of a slasher movie. It ended up seeming ridiculous and the plot was lost amongst all the sensationalism.
I'm all for brainless action/horror movies with lots of gore and nudity. Unfortunately, Le Pacte des Loups tries to be more than that, which makes the entire movie unbelievable. After a short setup, the film starts with a shot of pretentious religious imagery. Two strangers arrive and then save some woman and her father. One of the strangers is a martial-arts ass-kicking spiritual Native American (HE HAS A F*CKING TOMAHAWK AND MAGICAL HEALING POWDER FOR GOD'S SAKE! YEESH.) stereotype and the other is a dashing daring French hero main-character stereotype. It should be noted that the two hardly talk to each other throughout the entire film, which makes the last third of the film illogical and stupid. In fact, all of the characters are pretty much one-dimensional. The acting is not bad (it's not amazing either) given what the actors had to work with. Onto the plot: The film is a horror film wrapped by French royal court and religious intrigue. But since the film is mainly a horror film, the other stuff is just mentioned in passing and thus the imagery seems pretentious. Especially when you consider that the main character is resurrected. (Also, at one point the Native American character is laid out with his arms spread in a crucifixion position in a room where there is religious imagery all over the ceiling. Hmmm.) Anyway, to sum it up, the plot is stupid and unbelievable and the film is filled with gothic and religious imagery. None of that would matter if the film was a brainless action film. Unfortunately, the martial arts was pathetic. Maybe I've been spoiled by the fight scenes of some recent films (e.g. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) but I thought most of the battles were pretty lame. There's a lot of dodging and slowmotion kicks. Nothing spectacular. The final battle was funny because the French-guy main character, who suddenly gained kick-boxing abilities in the middle of the film, shoots flaming ARROWS (HE HAD A FREAKING GUN!) at people and SCALPS a guy. As I mentioned before, the movie sucked because instead of being a normal action/horror movie (the action is horrible; it's scary if you consider wolves in a procupine suit scary) it tries to throw in religious themes (which isn't in the film enough to justify all the freaking imagery everywhere. Even the Native American character is part of the imagery.) Oh yeah, most of the plot of the 2 and 1/2 hour movie makes no sense too. There was a lot of gore and nudity, which is always good. But I'd have to say that this movie is utter crap.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie reminds me of 'A Knight's Tale'. It is terrible.
Unfortunately I have not not seen all of 'A Knight's Tale' and so I
cannot really say what I think of it. I got a copy out of interest and
every time I have played it, I've had to turn it off a few minutes
later. I find it that bad. This movie made me feel the same way.
It was hard but, I stuck through this and I was disappointed from the start. I wonder if this movie was trying to be funny, 'cause it was cheesy as hell. I knew it would be bad in the first few minutes and I thought maybe it would get better but, it never did. Plot holes like crazy! One person said that different people threw in different stories and perhaps that was the reason.
I do give this three stars because I saw an interview for the director after this film, though I was burnt out by then, and he seemed to care about what he did. I feel that he had good intentions for his work, though this film was just a train wreck. I am guessing he knew what he wanted to do and just could not pull it together. I don't see how these people find funding for their films.
"Brotherhood of the Wolf" is so over the top, so manifestly ridiculous, that
it simply defies criticism. Once you have seen 18th century French peasant
women engaging in kung-fu, as you do in this film's first quarter hour, any
qualms about lapses in plot or historical innacuracy become somewhat
If that wasn't enough for you, it also contains an Iracois warrior done up in 21st century tatoos, who also, for some reason, is a kung-fu expert, a naturalist who can fire two guns at once, an evil, hatchet faced villain who can wield a wicked knife-chain, and one big armoured cyborg wolf.
Did I mention all this takes place in pre-revolutionary France? So in addition the film manages to include a classic tale of the wiles and trials of aristocratic courtship.
Got all that? No? well it doesn't really matter. A film already straining to contain a reference to virtually every kind of film ever made (action, martial-arts, werewolf, monster, period romance) was never going to be very credible, and it would die if it took itself seriously. Fortunately, "Brotherhood" does not; it just pushes ahead full throttle distracting our attention with some excellent fight scenes and, of course, this being France, naked women (A dissolve in which Monica Bellucci's breasts become mountain peaks tells you everything you need to know about this film's style). As long as it entertains, "Brotherhood"'s rather obvious flaws can be ignored, however, this film is a ludicrous 140 minutes long and after a while tedium does begin to set in. Still, all in all an enjoyable experience.
Le Pacte des Loups is one of the most boring films ever made. And that in spite or rather because of its many action sequences. It just doesn't make any sense - mainly because it tries to pack all genres into one film. Starting as an action flick (including martial arts in pre-revolutionary France!), going on to become a sort of critical view of the french aristocracy but never delving into that, intertwined with a rather ludicrous love-story, evolving into supernatural horror and finally turning into a conspiracy-piece that is so far-fetched as to make the alleged Kennedy-assassination-plot a fact. Some films may indeed have succeeded in combining diverse plot elements. This one doesn't. That's why it bores - at a length of 140 minutes at that. I'd love to point out the lou(o)pholes both in the storyline and the direction but in this case it would mean to reveal pivotal scenes to future viewers. Though, without revealing anything, I might point out that the director shows - completely illogically - the "beast" once as an illusion and then again as (CGI-generated) reality. In this case not even the "suspension of disbelief" (Stephen King) works - as for that you have to believe in the first place. Any work of art doesn't necessarily have to convey a so-called message. But at least there should be a reason of existence. In this case there is none. Why was it made? What is the point? Where does it lead to? No Answer. It is neither entertaining nor emotional or thought-provoking. It is ... thin air. Possibly this is what European cinema begets when it tries to imitate Hollywood.
I wonder that so many people take this movie so serious. Common, it's not a
historical lesson, it's just entertainment, isn't it?! Although it has some
historical background the movie is still some kind of fairy tale.
The movie itself was very pleasant to me. I was really caught in the atmosphere. The martial arts scenes were kind of misplaced in my opinion, especially because everyone seemed to be a hidden Karate black belt. But I don't mind, it added a special spice to the movie. I like it.
Brotherhood of the Wolf is what happens when you mix a cheesy and
violent American kung-fu movie with an elegant Renaissance romance. You
get quite an interesting mix to watch. For an experiment group of, say,
four people this type of gamble will result in two either leaving or
falling asleep from boredom, the third trying to understand what the
hell the movie is about, and the fourth one glued to the screen with
his eyes not willing to miss a moment, even if he or she has to keep
one eye on the subtitles at all times.
Taking on a semi-historical event, the film tells the story of two people hired to help find a beast believed to have caused a series of brutal killings in a French province. The setting is a pre-revolution France with the elegant realm of local nobility bordering the realm of a sci-fi thriller. The story starts strong, even if a bit cliché, but starts to weaken towards the end. In fact, it feels like the peak of excitement gets reached about 2/3 of the way through and from then on the pace slows down, as if the makers were starting to get tired. This causes for the resolution to be not particularly exciting and, considering the full version of the movie is almost 3 hours long, it makes one feel as if some parts were perhaps not necessary at all or that they should have been better connected, like an extra circle in the story spiral that should not have been made. Nonetheless the ending is quite satisfying.
The special effects are acceptable for a move made in 2001, but it's clear that the creators tried to steer clear of having to use them much, rather showing more of what's going on in the faces of the actors. Especially in the beginning of the movie, there is an accent on different characters, on helping the viewer establishing who is who, which is important in a movie with a lot of conversations. Thankfully all the actors are doing their part very well. Even the non-French viewers will recognize a few familiar faces.
Although Le pacte des loups mixes genres, it still takes a certain kind of viewer, for this particular type of mixed genre, to truly like the movie. There are flaws in the plot, but in general, it succeeds keeping you connected, and at the end, the leftover feeling is that of interest to see the whole thing again in order to understand it even better. The actors are good and the film has style. All together - a success.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Le Pacte des Loups' takes the Beast of the Gévaudan (to which over 100
deaths were attributed 1764-67) as the starting-point for a thrilling
action-adventure fantasy. 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' meets a
'Crouching Tiger' for a 'Dangerous Liaison' with 'The Last of the
Mohicans' in 'Sleepy Hollow'. Result: an exciting, beautifully
photographed and well-acted film.
The film opens during the French Revolution: a middle-aged gentleman writes his memoirs, while a hostile mob, singing "Ça ira", gathers outside his home. Only towards the end will we know for certain which of our protagonists he is.
25 years previously, a mysterious Beast terrorises the Gévaudan. Strangers avoid the region - except for the Chevalier Grégoire de Fronsac and his Iroquois friend Mani. After rescuing peasant animal-healer Jean Chastel and his beautiful, mute daughter (ironically nicknamed 'The Gossip') from some men in drag, Grégoire and Mani stay with the Marquis d'Apcher and his grandson Thomas.
Grégoire, a naturalist from the King's Gardens, has been sent to return the Beast (preferably stuffed) to the royal collection. He is a religious sceptic and libertine, representing rationality and Enlightenment values. Mani, a medicine-man and warrior who became his blood-brother during the Seven Years' War, is attuned to the natural world: his totem animal is the wolf. Together, these embodiments of Reason and Rousseauesque proto-Romanticism make a formidable team.
Grégoire's Parisian scepticism ruffles the reactionary local clergy and nobles, including Father Henri Sardis, and the pious Geneviève, Comtesse de Morangias. Her husband the Comte warns that a Papal spy is also investigating the case. Their son, Jean-François, seems at first a potential ally. An ex-naval officer, maimed by a lion in Africa, he is courageous and witty - but has secret torments.... Why does he resent the developing attraction between his sister Marianne and Grégoire? Who is the Italian courtesan, Sylvia, who ensnares Grégoire at the brothel in Mende? Whom can Grégoire and Mani trust? While a book by the mysterious 'The Wolves of God' attacks the King and calls the Beast's predations a divine judgement on the nation, the killings continue.
Cue thrilling hunts, battles with Gypsies, treachery, murder, poisoning, madness, incest, clerical conspiracies, heresy, and trick-weaponry any 18C James Bond would covet. There is a spectacularly acrobatic climactic sword-fight in a ruined church, a happy ending for two characters, while our narrator, at last identified, 25 years later goes bravely to his doom.
The film is lavishly produced and filmed, and splendidly acted. Some have thought Samuel Le Bihan insufficiently glamorous as Grégoire: but glamour is not a trait I expect in an 18C natural historian, and I found him likable and credible. The problem is, the other two leading men are so striking and charismatic that he is overshadowed. This is no criticism of him as an actor: simply that his character is inherently less showy.
Mark Dacascos' wolf-shaman warrior Mani is engaging: serenely beautiful, thoughtful, yet dynamic in action. He is a man of few, but telling words, and powerful presence: he expresses so much with his eyes that one believes his ability to communicate with trees, birds and wolves. Emilie Dequenne (Marianne) grows in courage and maturity as the film progresses. Jérémie Renier (Thomas) is an appealing ingénu.
But real-life couple Vincent Cassel (Jean-François) and Monica Bellucci (Sylvia) steal the show. Both their characters rely, literally and metaphorically, on masks to conceal loyalties, emotions, and - in Jean-François' case - insanity: both actors convey these complexities with panache. Cassel combines extraordinary emotional range with terrific swashbuckling, and ultimately attains 'tragic villain' stature. (Having been a lion's chew-toy would, I suspect, be enough to derange most people.) He also looks strikingly handsome in 18C costume. Bellucci is superb as Sylvia the courtesan/spy - like a beautiful but deadly snake. She's glamorous, intelligent, powerful, dangerous; sexy, but no mere sex-object: one of the best heroines of any film I saw in 2001.
The most familiar face in the supporting cast is Edith Scob ('Eyes Without a Face') as Comtesse Geneviève: a mother you would *not* want making your cocoa. Jean Yanne plays her long-suffering, amiable husband. Virginie Darmon, as Chastel's mute, epileptic daughter, is a haunting, feral presence. Possibly more could have been made of her implied attraction to Mani, a fellow outsider.
The mystery of the Beast's identity is preserved by its disguise - more effective than revealing it to be "only a wolf/lion/hyena/white rabbit", & c. The Jim Henson Workshop brings it to life as a tormented creature for which, at the end, we have some pity. The live animal cast must also be mentioned with some credit: Mani's spirit-wolf is beautiful!
As with 'Sleepy Hollow', 'Pacte's genre-bending, fantastic approach immunises it against those criticisms regarding accuracy and anachronism which 'realistic' historical dramas court. But it was good to hear Occitan spoken by a child survivor in hospital, and I enjoyed the scene in the ruined church which placed the story in a longer continuum of heresy and religious violence. As Mani senses, and Marianne explains, the church had been the site of a massacre of Cathars in 13C by the Knights Templar (in turn judicially murdered on heresy charges a century later). The ruin then becomes the site of the meetings of the 'Wolves of God' and of the dramatic climax. Some viewer criticisms of Grégoire's visits to Sylvia while he is courting Marianne show ignorance of 18C social mores: since unmarried girls of good family were meant to be chaste before marriage, their lovers would turn to professionals for sex.
My main quibble is one of the final twists, when the script backs away from a romantic tragedy which would have strengthened the already poignant ending. I wonder whether a preview audience is to blame? Even so, 'Pacte' should have garnered the international plaudits and awards heaped instead on 'Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain' - who surely would have been Beast-food in the 1760s Gévaudan!
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