Brotherhood of the Wolf: Director's Cut 

2001

Here's proof that the French can be just as crazy as other countries when it comes to cinema. "Brotherhood of the Wolf" isn't sure "? purposely, I believe "? if it wants to be a period costume drama, a Gothic horror film or an Asian-style action extravaganza. To its credit, it works as all three.

In 1765, rural France is terrorized by a beast that kills only women and children. After years of desperate, unsuccessful hunts to bring down the creature, the king calls for scientist Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his ax-wielding Iroquois pal (Mark Dacascos).

The two quickly bust out their kung fu as they do battle with both the giant wolf and bad guys within the village. Throw in a religious cult, a one-armed man and a magical prostitute (Monica Bellucci), and you've got something you've never quite seen before. It's not your typical "foreign film," and one I've long admired for its genre-mashing ambition and intelligence.

Although he could have trimmed about half an hour from his epic tale (and I couldn't determine where the restored nine minutes for this double-disc cut lie), director Christophe Gans ("Silent Hill") skillfully guides this difficult material to full fruition, utilizing gorgeous visuals. A feature-length on-the-set documentary detail a stressed-out Gans' troubles with the elements and everything else, while another is more of your standard making-of.

"?Rod Lott

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