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BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF ($27) aka LE PACTE DES LOUPS is an incredible motion picture experience that is tough to pigeonhole. While watching BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF I couldn't really assign this French import to any particular genre. I had to ask myself, is it a supernatural thriller? A Mystery? A Swashbuckler? Perhaps it is an action-adventure movie? Maybe it is a historic romance? Or could it be a martial arts movie? By the end of the film, I came to the conclusion that BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is all of the above. While the film's genre isn't particularly clear, its breathtaking execution guarantees that BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is the kind of movie that is certain to achieve classic status. Director Christophe Gans marvelously stages the action (with the help of a Hong Kong fight coordinator), plus BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF features glorious cinematography and a meticulous production design that brings the story to wondrous life.

Set in 18th century France, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF tells the story of a beast that is mutilating and killing the woman and children in small country province. The King dispatches Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) to investigate ,along with his Indian blood brother Mani (Mark Dacascos), whom has come to France from the Americas. Although French soldiers have already been sent into the province to kill the beast, few have even glimpsed it, and those that have, have found the creature completely unstoppable by conventional means. Fronsac's investigation eventually leads him in unexpected directions and into the midst of a political conspiracy whose scope defies belief. To say any more about the plot of BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF would do a great disservice to those who have yet to experience this unique and wonderful film. The cast of BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF also features Vincent Cassel, Émilie Dequenne, Monica Bellucci, Jérémie Rénier, Jean Yanne, Jean-François Stévenin and Jacques Perrin.

Universal Studios Home Video has made BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. In a nutshell, the transfer is stunning. The image is sharp and highly detailed, which shows off the beauty of Dan Laustsen's impeccable cinematography and the intricate details of the Guy-Claude François' production design. Even low light and firelight sequences look extraordinary. Colors are incredibly vivid, so much so that they straddle the line of becoming over saturated. Fortunately, the colors are reproduced cleanly, without any real smearing of the most intense hues- particularly the hot crimsons and orange reds. Blacks are marvelously pure and velvety, whites are clean ands crisp, plus the film's contrast is very smooth. In addition, I should note that BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is a rather dark movie, but it rendered here with impressive shadow detail and no signs of murkiness. Dual layer authoring betrays nary a digital compression artifact.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is presented with both the original French language and a dubbed English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1. Those who hate reading subtitles will gravitate towards the English dub, but let me warn you the French 5.1 channel mix is far more impressive. In fact, the French mix is as aggressive as the most overblown American action movie, with the English dub sounding like a very poor relation. The sound mix creates a great sense of space for all of the film's various environments; in addition, there is excellent surround deployment and effortless panning of sound effects between channels. Dialogue reproduction seemed very good to my ear, although since I do not speak French, I am not in a position to judge the intelligibility of the language. The bass channel is thunderous, ground shaking and incredible for a movie set in 18th century France. Subtitles are provided on the DVD in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental features. Director Christophe Gans is on hand to introduce and discuss a series of deleted scenes, which were removed for reasons of pacing or because the overall impact of the film was better served by their absence. The deleted scenes and the director introductions run approximately forty minutes. Production notes, a theatrical trailer and cast & crew biographies/filmographies close out the supplements.

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is an incredible piece of film entertainment. I was thoroughly entertained by the film's unique mix of genres, in addition to being floored by the movie's beautiful cinematography and impeccable production design. Universal's DVD edition of the movie looks and sounds spectacular (as long as you stick with the original French language track) making this a must have DVD for fans of the various genres, as well as those looking for the latest show off disc to feed their home theater systems. If this review has sparked you curiosity, you can't go wrong by picking up a copy of BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF on DVD.



Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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