Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001)

Directed by
Rambles on
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-06-07

Well, I had managed to lower my expectations substantially for this after sampling the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, but even still I came away disappointed. I was prepared for it being a mess, but I thought it would at least be fun if I didn't take it seriously. It wasn't, particularly. It seems like Christophe Gans (sp?) had a really good idea for the movie, but then just didn't know what to do with it. Hence it rambles on for 2 hours 20 minutes without ever seeming like it has a particular point or purpose.

My friends and the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it quite a bit more than me though, so perhaps my expectations were low but still high in the wrong places. Mainly I was there for the action scenes I think... with Mark Dacascos and Philip Kwok on board, and Gans' love of Hong Kong Cinema, I thought these should be quite a treat. Sadly, there's not that much martial arts in there, and what there is has been filmed and edited in an awful Hollywood-esque style. Worse in fact. Close ups and over-zealous editing make it impossible to see what people are doing, and render Kwok's choreography and Dacascos' skills pretty much redundant. On top of this, totally spurious switching between slomo, full speed and freeze frame totally kills the feel and momentum of the fights. In Tokyo Raiders such manipulations of time really enhanced the experience, but here it just seems to have been applied randomly with no particular effect in mind. Very disappointing!

Still, I made it through the full length without having to leave for a cigarette break, which is pretty impressive, and others there seemed to be having fun... although the movie got lots of laughs that obviously weren't intended by the makers. I was quite impressed to see that the theatre was full to capacity for a subtitled film - promising signs - although it was clear that a good percentage of the audience hadn't known it would be subbed going in. It didn't seem to offend any of them once they realised it though, and I really hope that Miramax and pals will learn to trust people in the US to handle 'foreign stuff' than they seem to believe possible.

Probably the best part of going to see BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF was seeing the trailer for Legend Of Zu at the start (now apparently called ZU WARRIORS - they really can't resist renaming things can they). I really think it's a mistake to import it to the US, as most audiences are simply going to be utterly baffled by the experience (oops, do I sound like a Miramax exec?). The trailer also tries its best to make out that Zhang Ziyi is the main star, which is going to leave a lot of people with disappointed expectations. I'm very curious to see how it fairs actually... I'm pretty sure most people here will never have seen anything like it at least :D