Brotherhood Of The Wolf

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Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001) is about Grégoire de Fronsac’s (Samuel Le Bihan) investigation into a series of mysterious animal attacks during the reign of Louis XV. Aided by his Iroquois sidekick Mani (Mark Dacascos), de Fronsac soon discovers that the attacks are part of an elaborate conspiracy against the King of France and the Holy Catholic Church. But this simple sounding narrative is a labyrinthian mystery strewn with subplots and asides that focus on supporting characters played by such luminaries as Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Émilie Dequenne.

Brotherhood Of The Wolf is a muddled movie that doesn’t appear to be about anything other than the cheap thrills associated with the action movie genre. The anti-papal posturing is only intermittent while a general sense of French patriotism, both for and against the crown is also confusing. The excellent performances, stunning visuals and special effects can only do so much to disguise these serious shortcomings.

When Christophe Gans’ film Brotherhood Of The Wolf came out there was no escaping it. It was one of those rare international films released with subtitles that got bookings at the multiplex. Then, when it came out on video, Brotherhood Of The Wolf dominated the new releases section and its posters filled the windows of video rental outlets. Gans’ film rode in the wake of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), taking advantage of all the doors that film had opened the previous year.

Both Brotherhood Of The Wolf and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are star-studded action epics with a historical setting. The tropes of the post-Matrix (1999) action movie suddenly made international films more accessible and popular. Like The Matrix, Brotherhood Of The Wolf imports elements of the wuxia picture into a specific genre; in this case the horror film. These three films represent the dominant aesthetic of the action movie of this era. This is a spectacle of violence that is choreographed like a ballet and photographed like a music video.