brotherhood of the wolf(2001)
director: christophe gans
samuel le bihan, mark dacascos, monica belluci

. A “French Action Movie” might sound like a contradiction in terms, but the release of Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf shows that the French are willing to take on the biggest and best Hollywood has to offer.

Set in pre-revolutionary France, in a rural area terrorized by a terrible, unstoppable beast that preys on women and children, the film suggests that the downfall of the French monarchy might have had as much to do with evil aristocratic cults and near-supernatural villains as starving peasants and the Bastille. When the king sends Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a Sherlock Holmes-like physician, and his Iroquois blood brother Mani (Mark Dacascos) to investigate, he finds conspiracy and cover-up preventing him from discovering the truth behind the monster.

De Fronsac and Mani, like an 18th century Green Hornet and Kato, also get a chance to unleash some Matrix/Crouching Tiger-style martial arts ass-whuppings on the sundry foot soldiers of the corrupt rural aristocracy. It may be that we’ll soon tire of the increasingly fantastic feats of wire-fighting in action movies, but for the moment, it’s thrilling to see each new film up the ante on the surreal carnage possible.

The plot of Brotherhood of the Wolf manages to be both gothic and baroque, and takes perhaps one or two too many turns to be totally enjoyable. It is however, a sumptuous spectacle, as enjoyable when presenting the decadent pleasures of the court and the beauties of the countryside as when bodies are being tossed about at improbable angles.