Welcome to Fistful of Features, a celebration of film preservation through physical media and the discussion of cinematic treasures to maintain their relevance in the cultural lexicon. Today we’ll be discussing the director’s cut of Christophe Gans’s fantastical hodgepodge of horrific folklore, alternate history, erotic fetishism, and martial arts, the ambitiously entertaining Brotherhood of the Wolf, now available in a collector’s edition Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory.
“Ghost or not, I’ll split you in two.” – Jean-François de Morangias
Christophe Gans’s (Silent Hill) approach to telling the legend of The Beast of Gévaudan is like having a teacher explain folklore to a classroom completely detached from the subject. Theoretical scenario. Teacher asks “Hey, everybody. Would you like to hear about a massacre in the Kingdom of France that was widely believed to be the result of a monstrous hybrid of a hyena or ravenous wolf?” Mildly amused class replies “I guess.” Teacher retorts “But wait, I’m not finished. This is a swashbuckling tale involving incestuous secret societies, a one-armed aristocrat with silver bullet fetishes, a Mohican warrior who could go toe to toe with Bruce Lee, an abundance of brothels and political double crossing that would put Game of Thrones to shame, and a mythical creature whose blood-thirst has a preference for women and newborn children.”
You could only imagine the wide-eyed students eating out of the enthusiastic storyteller’s palm.
Cinematographer Dan Lausten (Crimson Peak) sets the mood with fog against the lavish gothic backdrop that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton production. Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a loyal knight to King Louis XV of France, and his Native American companion Mani (Mark Dacascos) arrive in Gavaudan to hunt and capture the alleged beast responsible for a string of serial killings that would put Jack the Ripper to shame. The more they become involved in the town, the more suspicious these crimes appear to be, and when Fronsac finds himself in an intense romantic triangle with Marianne (Emilie Dequenne) much to the chagrin of her jealous brother Jean-François de Morangias (Vincent Cassel) and Sylvia (Monica Bellucci), he finds that the rabbit hole of truth is far deeper than he would ever have imagined.
The beast in question, at times, looks wondrously impressive thanks to the fine animatronic puppetry work courtesy of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, though the scenes that required the aid of CGI haven’t aged as gracefully. The fight choreography by action coordinator Manu Lanzi (The Transporter) also hold up magnificently well. There’s a scene where Mani is tracking the creature back into an ambush and is surrounded by conspirators looking to tear him apart. Mark Dacascos contains so much finesse and conviction with disposing of his opponents that it’s a no brainer to cast him as the baddie in recent fare like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Brotherhood of the Wolf plays fast and loose with folklore and the French Revolution. It’s like Drunk History leaning more on tragedy than laughs with a dash of From Hell and Sleepy Hollow for good measure.
The extras included on Scream Factory’s two disc collection are ported from previous releases, but are quite extensive if you haven’t seen them. For those looking for a fun genre mashup that delivers some thrilling action sequences and haunting atmosphere you really can’t go wrong with adding this to your Scream Factory collection.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf Special Features:
Disc One: Feature Film
- Unrated Director’s Cut Of The Film
Disc Two: Bonus Features
- The Guts Of The Beast – A Look At The Creation Of The Film From The Fight Scenes To The Digital Effects
- The Making Of BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF – A Look Behind-The-Scenes
- The Legend – A Look At The Historical Facts Behind The Legend Of The Gévaudan Beast
- Deleted Scenes With Introduction By Director Christophe Gans
- Theatrical Trailers
Available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory July 27th, 2021.