LE PACTE DES LOUPS
Directed by Christophe Gans
Produced by Samuel Hadida & Richard Grandpierre
Screenplay by Stephane Cabel
Photography by Dan Laustsen
Music by Joseph Lo Duca
Cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Emilie Dequenne, Monica Belluci, Jeremie Renier & Mark Dacascos
2001/152 mins/Color/5.1 DTS
2.35:1 anamorphic/French/France/PAL Region 2
Review from the Studio Canal 3 DVD Collector Edition
LE PACTE DES LOUPS (to be translated as THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) has to be the best french film since DOBERMANN and the most kick ass film i have seen since Robert Rodriguez's FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. LE PACTE DES LOUPS is part adventure, horror, kung-fu, fantasty, mystery, western and more. It's a big budget b-movie film like there used to be so many of.
Christophe Gans second feature film, the first one being CRYING FREEMAN, is a spectacular "tour-de-force." Loosely based on the legend of the Beast from Gévaudan, Gans brought a more fairy tale element to the legend to make his film one to remember. In the eighteen century France, a wolf like beast terrorize the population of Gévaudan by savagely attacking and killing women and kids. Some claim that the beast is colossal, some call it a dragon while others even call it the devil itself! The king Louis XV sends a royal naturalist, Grégoire de Fronsac (marvelously portraited by Samuel Le Bihan) to find, hunt and dress the beast. The knight is accompagnied by his good friend, an indian who goes by the name of Mani (Mark Dacascos who you will remember as the Eric Draven of THE CROW miniserie who finally finds a role that fits him well). The two of them will encounter unique individuals in a small town where the rich and religious control everything. It's there that Grˇgoire de Fronsac falls in love with the lovely Marianne De Morangias (played by the charming Emilie Dequenne) even if he has more than his hands full with a prostitute by the name of Sylvia (the gorgeous and favorite of mine Monica Bellucci in one of her best role yet). Not everyone approuves the relation between Grégoire and Marianne, especially not her brother Jean-François (Vincent Cassel, superbly casted as the elegant and vile Jean-François) a former hunter who lost and found more than you could imagine while traveling in Africa. Of everyone, it seem like only Thomas (Jérémie Rénier) D'Apcher is the one that the naturalist and the indian can trust.
As the time goes by and the killing continues, the king send another man to hunt the beast. A few days after his arriving, Antoine de Beauterne claims that he killed the beast. Is it really the beast? To the king it doesn't matter as he wants his people to feel safe. France already looks bad around the world for losing the Nouvelle-France to the British and now they can't even kill a wolf in their own country, this had to be stopped. Fronsac gets into a situation beyond what he could have ever expected as he is now involved in an incredible hoax and to make things worse he is forbided to go back to Gˇvaudan to hunt the beast.
Upon a call from Thomas D'Apcher, Fronsac decides to go back to hunt the beast along with Mani and to take Marianne away from her familly but what they will encounter is beyond anyone's wildest imagination.
Every elements of LE PACTE DES LOUPS are perfectly executed. The direction from Gans is incredibly tight and solid, the cinematography is stunning and sublime taking full advantage of the beautiful landscapes and settings, the musical score is atmospheric and creepy, the acting is top notch and everyone is credible. The fighting scenes were choreographed by the great Philip Kwok. This is a film for all genre fans to see.
In late 2001, Studio Canal released two editions of LE PACTE DES LOUPS. A bare-bone movie only disc and a three discs collector's edition. My review is of the 3 discs edition. This is the Director's Cut which runs 7 minutes longer then the theatrical release. The extra footage add more of the love triangle in the plot between Fronsac, Marianne and Sylvia. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The transfer is stunning, with rich and vibrant colors. Please take note that if you are watching the film on a traditional 4:3 (non-widescreen) television you should please take note that the disc has been encoded with the Pan-and-Scan-on-the-Fly feature. Your DVD player must be set for "4:3 LETTERBOX" mode, not "4:3 STANDARD". The picture will be cropped to approximately 1.78:1 with magnified grain if watching in the wrong mode.
In the audio department, we get a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a French DTS 5.1 track. Both sounds amazingly great, with lots of aggressivity and constant full-range activity from every channel. The bass is loud and thunderous. There is only French subtitles. The first disc also includes two commentary tracks; the first one is a very informative and detailed one by Christophe Gans who goes into all the small details of every aspect of the film. The second one features the two lead actors, Samuel Le Bihan (Fronsac) and Vincent Cassel (Jean-François) who have a lot of fun talking about the film.
The second disc features loads of extras! First of all there's a great 80 minutes documentary on the making of the film which goes into all the details of the film from the acting, production design, fighting choreography and fx. There's also a 36 minutes segment on deleted scenes. Five scenes are presented and commented by the director. Then there's a 17 minutes interview with Michel Louis, a specialist on the subject of the Beast from Gˇvaudan. This is a very informative and interesting segment. We also get three theatrical trailers, bios and a dvd-rom section which includes the press kit in .pdf format as well as an Internet link to the film's website.
The third disc features another very good 90 minutes behind the scenes documentary, a storyboard section which features 670 sketches (!), a very nice still gallery, various posters and the complete script on dvd-rom.
The film is separated in 20 chapters, all menus have sounds and animation. We also get a very nicely made 40 pages booklet. The 3 discs comes in a superbly designed packaging which represent the book from the film. When you open it you can see all of the leading cast members. This has to be one of the most beautiful package ever!
This is an amazing DVD set and a new classic film. Now about the other editions released worldwide. In early 2003, Studio Canal released yet another edition in France, a 4 discs set called the Ultimate Edition which features more extras! A movie only disc was release in Hong Kong as a NTSC Region 3 disc. Universal released the film with a awful English dubbed track, don't worry the original French track is available. In Canada, TVA Films released two editions of the film, a movie only disc and a three discs edition which is pretty much like the edition i am reviewing. If you understand French then i would highly recommend you to get either the 3 discs Collector's Edition set or the 4 discs Ultimate Edition set from France. Both were limited releases so hurry up and pick up yours.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©