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"Brotherhood of the Wolf"

Directed by Christophe Gans.
Written by Stéphane Cabel and Christophe Gans.
Starring Samuel Le Bihan and Mark Dacascos.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  1/18/02

Folks--

I've seen one too many French films in the last 12 months, and with “Brotherhood of the Wolf” looking promising, I figured what the hell?  I'll check this one out, too.

Unfortunately, it sucked.  I will grant that the film is well shot.  However, this film being bad may be shocking to some of you (and myself) who thought that the preview was pretty cool.  The reasons are quite simple.

1.  S l o w  m o t i o n

Look, I'm fucking sick of slow motion.  When I saw “The Killer” more than ten years ago, I liked slow-motion a lot.  Back then (1990), it was called slow motion.  Now, it's usually called “bullet time” in action films, and it is so overused it can cause temporary motion sickness.  “Brotherhood of the Wolf”'s first action scene features one of the heroes, Mani (Mark Dacascos), whooping the ass of five or six peasants on a rainy countryside.  Although it might have taken 30 seconds in real time, director Christophe Gans decided it would look cooler to show roundhouse kicks in super-slo-mo, then speed up to real-time speed for the follow-through.  This wasn't a bad idea...for the first kick.  But, because Mani throws more than 20 kicks in this first fight scene, it takes almost five minutes of movie time.

2.  No action...in an action film

Hey, admit it:  the trailer made this one look like it had some action in it, right?  Nope.  There are four action scenes in TWO AND A HALF HOURS.  The three guys sitting off to my left kept doing fake yawning sequences every time the film had more than ten minutes of useless dialogue scenes.  This film is more period drama than action film, since there are so many boring scenes with the regal-looking hero Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) smiling at politicians.  The plot?  Something about a crazy wolf that keeps eating women and children.  Yeah...if you could go ahead and slit my wrists, that would be great...yeah...

3.  Whores

Like any good, BAD action film, this film takes time out to provide whores for the “heroes” in the movie.  Now, maybe in the real history of the depicted events of the film (apparently based on true events from the 1760s), these heroes liked to pay for sex in their spare time.  These scenes alone add 20 minutes to the film.  Why???  Oh, and in case you were wondering:  yes, the head whore of the brothel is a fat, white lady.  Movie rule #7549:  Make the brothel head a fat, white lady.

4.  Utter ridiculousness

Although Fronsac doesn't even throw a punch for the first two hours of the film, he becomes a white Bruce Lee in the film's final 30 minutes, literally obliterating about 30 evildoers with his fists of fury.  Odd...this is SUPPOSED to be a guy that is only good at taxidermy and philosophy.  Much like a bus driver that is a former Navy SEAL, “Brotherhood of the Wolf” seems to revel in making it up as it goes along.

5.  The token minority partner

Now, again, it is possible that in real life, Fronsac's partner was a minority.  But, that didn't matter to me, because Mani has got it coming from the second he walks on screen.  He is an Iroquois Indian, and he has almost no lines in the film, but he whoops ass real good.  Don't worry, I don't ruin it for you by telling you that he dies; what is better than that, though, is that Fronsac, upon witnessing his partner's death, gets the chance to do the “Scream to the Sky” routine that is so common in the modern action film.  You know what I am talking about:  Lead character looks down at dead fallen partner...holds his head in his hands...looks up at the sky...screams (in varying languages) WHY GOD...WHY!!!!!!!!  Classic.  The best of these scenes, by far, is in the bad Tom Sizemore “horror” film “The Relic.”

If you can watch this for free, then it might be worth it.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09