Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des loups)
Director: Cristophe Gans
This film wasn't quite what I expected, but in a good way. It's kind of an odd amalgamation between action, horror, and period piece, with the story taking place mainly in the 1760's of "remote" France. It's done with impressive attention to detail, great cinematography, and nice modern editing techniques utilized to help pacing and look.
The story follows the devastation of a countryside that is being terrorized by a beast most believe to be a wolf of mythological proportions. The King's appointed botanist and taxadermist Fronsac, along with his "brother" Mani (an Iroquois Indian), are sent to the region to help in the hunt and eventual capture of the beast so that it may be sent back to the king to assure that the terror has ended. Entwined in this is a love story and mystery of the true nature of the beast. The closest thing I would say this is like would be a cross between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sleepy Hollow, but with a bordello.
The main problem is I think it's just a little too long. I didn't mind the "lull" between the action sequences as it is a pretty interesting story, but I can't help think it could have been condensed just a tad, or even trim some of the action sequences a bit more. There's a strange bookend that starts off the film, not so strange in what happens, but it's only like 2 minutes long, so when it comes back around to it in the end, yer kinda like, "Huh? Oh, yeah." Because it deals a bit with the politics of the time, it helps to catch some of the nuances and meaning on a second viewing. Other than that, some of the action sequences seem a bit out of place considering the timeframe. But they're choreographed very well and help support the fact that this is more of an action movie than anything else (though it might not seem it at times), and is something the director Gans even mentions when talking about the final edit of the film.
Great Scene: There's a flashback of a young girl who remembers being attacked by the beast, and she crawls into a rabbit hole to save herself.
DVD Notes: Pretty decent, with some good comments by the director on 5 "major" deleted scenes, followed by a montage of some additional shots cut due to pacing. Some decent crew bios, stinted production notes, and trailer. You can opt for the dubbed english, which kinda sucks because I don't think they got the main character Fronsac's down well (so yes, subtitles are recommended). It's too bad there isn't a director commentary, because Gans shares some good information with the deleted scenes segment. And don't let the more modern music with the main menu page put you off as it did with me, the score for the film is more in tone with the film and done very well (though it is a cool little Besson-like loop).