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[whitespace] Wolf Boon

Sex, satanism and kickboxing enliven 'The Brotherhood of the Wolf'

By Richard von Busack

C'est unique. In The Brotherhood of the Wolf, director/co-writer Christophe Gans mixes up a rich mulch of juicy old-movie tropes into a film that dares to blend The Hound of the Baskervilles with The Last of the Mohicans, including a reactionary plot with Satan and reliably smoldering sex. In short, it's the kind of quadruple-decker opus that can usually only be got from Hong Kong, yet it has terrific European production values worthy of the most costly, brocade-laden costume drama.

In the 1700s in remote Geraudan, France, a nameless beast is ravaging the countryside, devouring peasants by the score. To investigate, His Majesty sends the libertine Chevalier de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a seasoned traveler and religious skeptic who has spent time cataloging plants in Quebec. With the young knight comes his faithful Mohawk Indian blood brother Mani (the magnificently muscled Mark Dacascos). The two find an aristocratic nest of decadent types encircling one pure noblewoman (Emilie Dequenne).

While courting her by day, de Fronsac amuses himself at night with a smoky Italian whore named Sylvia (Monica Bellucci), who is a repository for the town's secrets and knows about poison. Sometimes the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink spirit has its rewards. While the kickboxing matches (with a group of Gypsies who are unaccountably dressed like extras in The Road Warrior) are staged once too often, this film is certainly a hugely entertaining nonesuch.

The Brotherhood of the Wolf (R; 140 min.), directed by Christophe Gans, written by Stéphane Cabel, photographed by Dan Laustsen and starring Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Emilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci, opens Jan. 18 at selected theaters.

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Web extra to the January 17-23, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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