By 2001, the perqs of my magazine editing began including fewer free games and more advance movie passes. The one I was most excited to receive was for Le Pact des Loups, a French action thriller directed by Christophe Gans. This was also a time when I was seeing 400+ movies a year and reading half a dozen film magazines, so I was aware of and anxious to see the North American release, Brotherhood of the Wolf.
When the pass arrived, I took a like-minded Wizards of the Coast colleague with me to the Uptown Cinema in Seattle. To me, Brotherhood was twice as fun as The Fellowship of the Ring, which we’d enjoyed a few weeks earlier. The two of us loved it, but soon I was appalled to find that most of my friends didn’t.
The sticking points for them were an obscure backstory and some over-the-top elements—including a mystical connection between two of the principal characters, a video-game-inspired weapon, and a sort-of monster—all of which rode the vague border between thriller and fantasy movie. None of those elements fazed me, and soon I realized it was because, like Gans, I was a big fan of Hong Kong action movies, which don’t adhere to western standards of naturalism. Brotherhood of the Wolf owes as much to manga, anime, video games, and kung fu movies as it does to the historical events that inspired the script. I suspect blending historical fiction with near-fantasy short-circuited some viewers’ expectations.
Also, I think a lot of resistance to the film comes from the North American hatred of subtitles. The dubbed version of Le Pacte des Loups is pretty good, but I fear few have seen it. For my money, subtitles are always best, but I recognize that the vast majority of film-goers resent the notion of “reading a film.” For me, subtitles are one of the world’s most fantastic and under-appreciated inventions. It’s a low-tech answer to Star Trek’s Universal Translator. The world would be a better place if everyone watched more foreign films.
Anyway, the recent trailer for Gans’ La Belle et Le Bete reminded me how much I love his earlier film and wish its success had been great enough to merit a sequel. Granted, a key character’s death in the first film makes a successor difficult to imagine, but I loved the European historical take on a Hong Kong action movie and would love to see more of the type. And so, I hope you’ll entertain another question this week:
What movie(s) that never had a sequel would you most like to see continued, if not in a direct sequel then in more films of its type?