Year: 2001

Genres: Horror, Action, Historical drama.

Main cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Monica Bellucci, Jérémie Rénier, Emilie Dequenne.

Director: Christophe Gans.

Writers: Christophe Gans, Stéphane Cabel.

Length: 137 minutes.

Le Pacte des Loups (aka The Brotherhood of the Wolf) is a strange mix of historical drama, Arthur Conan Doylesque horror and Hong Kong action. It is the epitome of a roleplaying movie, and the style, pace and plot is reminiscent of the common setup of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventures. The basic plot concerns a beast that is holding the countyside of french Gévaudan in thrall. The premise has some basis in history, since there actually exists a legend of a beast of Gévaudan in real life. But apart from that nugget of historical accuracy, the rest is made up. The movie builds on the legend and introduces to the mix the main protagonists, biologist and writer Gregoire de Fronsac (Samuel Bihan), and his american indian companion Mani (Mark Dacascos) to solve the mystery of the beast. They are tasked with hunting down the beast and bringing security to Gévaudan and its people. This straight-forward adventure is complicated by local and national politics, a love story, secret societies, conspiracies and a dose of forbidden lust.

The pacing is sometimes awkward, and long dialogues are interspersed with violent action scenes to quicken the blood. The martial arts scenes came as some surprise to me. Mani turns out to be an accomplished warrior using some kind of martial arts to great effect, although I think that the inclusion of this element is the weakest part of the overall structure of the film. At the time leading up to the release, much was made of the beast itself and the special effects used to bring it to life. Now the effects look a bit dated, but the director did the right thing and never let the camera rest on the monster for longer times, preferring close-ups of details instead of full-figure exposition. At the times the monster is in full view, it is always moving so there is no time to dwell on the details. Well done.

To best enjoy Le Pacte des Loups you must view it without any expectations on historical logic. The movie is a fun and beatutiful action roller-coaster, with anachronistic elements. No more, no less. As an added bonus, the plot can easily adapted to serve as elements in your next fantasy horror adventure. I highly recommend it.