Brotherhood Of The Wolf: Director's Cut - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray [UK Import]Overview -
As Roger Ebert said in his review, “The Brotherhood of the Wolf” plays like an explosion at the genre factory.” Christophe Gans’ cutting-edge 2001 historical action thriller gets the 4K Ultra HD treatment courtesy of StudioCanal with a brand-new 4K restoration of the director’s cut that easily blows previous transfers away and comes packed with new and archival featurettes to enjoy, plus the elusive theatrical cut (although it’s unrestored). This release comes Highly Recommended!
A stunning new restoration of the director's cut of the thrilling 2001 cult classic BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF by director Christophe Gans, starring Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Jérémie Renier, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci.
During the reign of Louis XV an isolated district of south-central France is haunted by the "Beast of Gévaudan" which has savagely killed over 100 people, mostly women and children. As panic sweeps across the region, the King sends his finest military minds, the scientist and adventurer Grégoire de Fronsac and his martial-arts-trained Iroquois blood brother Mani to flush out the Beast and kill it...
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
I’ve revisited The Brotherhood of the Wolf quite a few times over the years, with the last time being when Shout Factory released their very underwhelming 2021 Blu-ray of the film. It’s one of those “lightning in a bottle” movies that throws together a bunch of different elements cobbled together from over a dozen movies that are more famous, but it actually has the deft hand needed to navigate all of it, not to mention its rollicking postmodern action sequences. If The Matrix broke new ground for movies everywhere, The Brotherhood of the Wolf picked up the pieces and found fun, reflexive ways to play with them all the while telling a good story.
I can almost read the loglines of the reviews if this movie was released in theaters today. It’s so easily reduced to a genre mash-up, and I think it’s knowledgeable of that, or maybe it’s the lack of flexibility I see in our modern action films. Either way, Christophe Gans took what was one of the biggest budgets for a French film at the time and made something so overheated and wildly entertaining that it wasn’t a surprise he was handed Silent Hill for a US directing debut. Needless to say, Silent Hill didn’t drum up much good will for the Gallic film-critic-turned-filmmaker.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf takes French history and injects some whacky fiction with a story that revolves around a series of killing in late 18th-century France and the legendary beast of Gévaudan. Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a royal naturalist to King Louis XV, and his Iroquois companion named Mani (Mark Dacascos) are sent to track down and kill the beast. There, they find a secret society that controls the area through the beast. Political intrigue meets high-stakes violence as the Grégoire and Mani investigate further and further.
The film’s flightiness across genres is evident of Gans talent, which I gather may be because of his deep understanding how each genre element he uses should look and feel. The early CGI, however clunky, represents a point in history where there was still an uneasiness of how to use those tools. Should it support the story, or should the CGI be its own show? The film tends to lean towards the latter, but it’s done with such gumption and incredible style that you can’t help but get swept up.
All in all, The Brotherhood of the Wolf is the crazy thrill-ride that surprised audiences back in 2001 and even to this day. While Christophe Gans may have not topped this effort, I’m happy to revisit this movie many times over.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
You can probably tell from my comment above about Shout’s previous Blu-ray release that I was no fan of the transfer used there. An aged master has been used on all releases up until now, and I’m very eager to report that this is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The film itself was originally shot on 35mm and scanned at 2K to finish the digital effects, which required this 4K restoration to be a complete overhaul, involving the original film reels being scanned at 4K and in 16-bit color. The result is nothing short of spectacular, with the lush and highly detailed production design now being seen in all of its glory like it’s the first time. Those highly stylized sequences that ape bullet-time effects used in The Matrix look better than ever, with gorgeous textures, a nice and delicate layer of film grain, plus those old CGI effects are much better blended into the overall picture than in previous presentations.
Inky black levels, stunning reds and bright yellows are found throughout. And whenever there’s a drop in quality because of the original techniques used or the early CGI, it emboldens just how great the overall presentation looks. Dolby Vision HDR truly looks incredible, especially in the darker sequences with the CGI beast. I expected a big drop in quality because of how the effects were originally overlaid upon theatrical release, but I was very pleased with the stunning result here. I cannot recommend this release highly enough for this stellar transfer.
Speaking of stellar upgrades, the provided 7.1 Dolby Atmos mix will envelop you in a rich 3D soundscape, with effects like drops of water, sweeping legs getting ready for a kick, muskets cracking and other notes that all sound full of life in this new mix. This track sounds much, much better than the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track included with Shout’s 2021 Blu-ray release, and it has certainly made those action sequences heavier in the front end. All around, it’s a really wonderful track that will exercise your home theater system quite nicely.
As for supplements, while the vintage featurettes far outweigh anything newly produced, there are still hours upon hours of content to dig through here. I’ll say that the purchase is worth alone for the new 88-minute interview with Gans and Jean-Baptiste Thoret, as the French cineaste/filmmaker has aged enough to reflect accurately about his rough experience making the film. Gans is a wonderful chat, which should come as no surprise since he was such an outspoken film critic before becoming a filmmaker. While the inclusion of the theatrical cut is a bit of a downer since its unrestored, the fact that it was given a Blu-ray is still worth celebrating since the cut is so elusive. This is a really nice supplements package overall.
Discs 1 & 2: 4K UHD Blu-ray & Standard Blu-ray of Director’s Cut and Special Features
- Audio commentary with Christophe Gans
- Audio commentary with Vincent Cassel and Samuel Le Bihan
- Trailer 4K Restoration (HD 1:05)
Disc 3: Blu-ray Special Features
- The Guts of the Beast (SD 78:11)
- Behind the Scenes (SD 77:53)
- La Legend: A Programme on the Origins of the Beast (SD 17:51)
- Interview with Christophe Gans and Jean-Baptiste Thoret (HD 88:54)
- Deleted Scenes
- The Fight (SD 10:54)
- The Crow (SD 5:08)
- Fronsac and Sardis (SD 2:42)
- The Frozen Lake (SD 6:28)
- The House Tessier (SD 10:03)
- Montage (SD 5:48)
Disc 4: Theatrical Cut Blu-ray & Special Features
- Interview with Christophe Gans by Jean-Pierre Jackson (SD 17:28)
- The Extras (SD 1:26)
- The Studies of Fronsac (SD 1:47)
- Mise-En-Scene (SD 1:24)
- Emilie and the Music (SD 1:24)
- Thomas D’Apcher (SD 2:04)
- Jeremie Renier and the Horses (SD 1:40)
- Special Effects (SD 1:38)
- Make-Up (SD 1:22)
Historical fact meets early 2000's CGI ingenuity in The Brotherhood of the Wolf, Christophe Gans’ rightfully lauded 2001 French blockbuster. The film gains a much-needed new coat of paint with a stellar 4K restoration presented in 2160p with Dolby Vision HDR, Atmos audio, plus the supplements package is nothing to blink at. Needless to say, if you want an ass-kicking good time, pick up this Highly Recommended release.
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