July 15, 2010
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Brotherhood of the Wolf is a French art horror film. Or rather, it's what you'd get combining a kung fu flick (they brought in Hong Kong director Philip Kwok for the action sequences), a period bodice ripper, and a bunch of screwed up French nobles who really ought to have their heads cut off.
The story is based on an historical incident, the "Beast of Gévaudan," a wolf-like beast that terrorized the south of France during the mid-18th century, killing at least a hundred peasants. It is the source for the modern depiction of the loup-garou or werewolf (though no actual werewolves show up).
But Brotherhood of the Wolf hardly strives for verisimilitude (the more sober La bête du Gévaudan tries harder). It gets so ludicrous (especially once the obviously digital monster starts prowling about) and takes itself so seriously every step of the way, it's hard not to like for all its straight-faced pretentiousness.
Especially Mani (Mark Decasacos) as an Mohawk Indian pretending he's a Kwai Chang Caine. He pretty much upstages everybody, even with his four lines of dialogue.
The ludicrosity (ought to be a word) reaches its peak when our action heroes, preparing for battle, test out their groovy 18th century weapons on a bunch of pumpkins. Pumpkin mayhem ensues! It's a pumpkin apocalypse! No pumpkin was left alive!
The movie's big problem, though, is that it is, well, French.
On the one hand, that means gratuitous nudity. I've no complaints about that. On the other, it goes on and on. And on. Ninety minutes in, the good guy (a botanist who met Mani while doing politically incorrect things in Canada, for which he dutifully bears his white man's burden) has the case pretty much solved.
But in order to dredge up numerous tangential excuses to discuss political hypocrisies in pre-revolutionary France, he doesn't look at his map again for forty more minutes. You find yourself saying: Okay, the movie could end here. Okay, the movie could end here. Okay, the movie could freaking end here.
But, no, everybody's got to get killed first, and a Catholic priest has to be ironically devoured. Perhaps mindful of the U.S. market, though, they do deliver as happy an ending as you could expect--from the French.
Labels: movie reviews