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Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)
Rated R

Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Jacques Perrin, and Mark Dacascos

out of

In 1764, the French region of Gevaudan was terrorized by a "Beast" that hunted women and children. This beast was intelligent enough to fear the men who would attempt to kill it. However, the women and children who wandered into the countryside alone were seemingly never spared its wrath. This story is true. Whether or not the beast was really a wolf was never determined, but Brotherhood of the Wolf has plenty to offer in the way of an explanation. Its version involves some special effects from Jim Henson's Creature Shop, some martial arts action and a healthy dose of both sex and gore. The tale that this French-made film tells may not agree with the actual legend, but it does all it can to mix as many action genres together as possible. There's even some romance and a touch of politics too.

Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) has been summoned by the King to investigate the Beast in Gevaudan. Fronsac is a naturalist and a man of science. His companion, Mani (Mark Dacascos), an Iroquois who saved Fronsac's life in New France (Canada), also happens to be a martial arts master. This unlikely pair encounter an odd cast of characters who populate the region's ruling class and are in charge of hunting the beast.

Without giving too much away, I will say that there are two parts to this film. The first part introduces all of the characters, sets up the plot, and then delivers the story of the beast that has been handed down through history. The second part of the film takes the elements that have been stewing for the first hour or so and unleashes them in a flurry of action, special effects, gore and intrigue that almost defies explanation.

Brotherhood of the Wolf is certainly not what one would expect from "a French film set in the 18th Century." The period setting is simply a backdrop to a thoroughly modern film with enough loud action scenes to convince moviegoers that it is actually a Hollywood creation with a French dialogue track. Alas, Hollywood would never be so bold to concoct such a wild mixture of action, slick editing, religious themes, over-the-top sexuality and simple fun. This is not a movie to be taken seriously, but simply to be enjoyed and absorbed.

Trivia: Fronsac travels on a ship aptly named "Frere loup", French for "Brother wolf". (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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