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Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups in French) is a 2001 French historical action/mystery/horror film directed by Christophe Gans, who was previously known for his Live-Action Adaptation of Crying Freeman.

It is very loosely based on the real, historical mystery of "the Beast of Gévaudan" — a creature which allegedly killed almost 100 people, most of them women and children, over a three year period in a remote, rural area of 18th century France corresponding to modern-day Lozère. In the summer of 1764, King Louis XV arranged a great hunt, and a wolf claimed to be the beast was slain, but subsequently more killings took place. "The Beast" has never been identified.

The hero of the film is nobleman Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan), a soldier/scientist/taxidermist recently returned from Colonial America with his sidekick, the wise kung fu-practicing American Native Mani (Mark Dacascos).

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Fronsac and Mani are quickly enlisted to hunt down the beast and study it. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious group of gypsies and a number of sleazy aristocrats. Vincent Cassel plays a one-armed hunting enthusiast who also takes an interest in the beast, Monica Bellucci plays a seductive Italian prostitute who is far more than she seems, and Jérémie Renier plays a young nobleman who assists Fronsac.

Overall, the film is notable for cramming just about every possible genre it can into its rather generous running time. It's a kung fu film, a monster movie, a mystery, a romance, a political thriller and a historical epic all rolled into one.


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Tropes evident in Brotherhood of the Wolf include:

  • Action Prologue: The film begins with a martial arts fight between Mani and some local goons under a heavy rain. The original script began with an extended chase through Parisian sewers.
  • All There in the Manual: According to supplemental materials, the martial art that Mani displays proficiency in is actually a pre-unified form of savate, taught to him by Fronsac after aiding him during the French and Indian War. However, his style and Fronsac's look rather different, reflecting their different personalities.
  • Animal Motifs: Lampshaded by Mani with Indian totems.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Well, some of them, though this is subverted in the bookends.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: The fighting styles used in the film try to be period-accurate savate, but Mani's style is clearly influenced by Mark Dacascos's background in Wun Hop Kuen Do, while Fronsac uses a stab-assisted tomoe nage at one point (although admittedly, the same throw is showcased in European wrestling manuals of the late Middle Ages, so it would not be a stretch for him to know it).
  • Asshole Victim: At the prologue, some disguised soldiers are beating up Jean Chastel and La Bavarde. She later turns out to be a twisted vamp who works with gypsy hunters. And it later turns out both she and her father work for the Brotherhood.
  • Ax-Crazy: Jean-François. Aside for being the Beast's master, he is also a sadistic psychopath obsessed with his own sister. It's unknown whether he was already a psycho before his travel to Africa, although the incest was already there.
  • Back from the Dead: Played with. Fronsac was presumed dead after being poisoned by Sylvia; turns out the effects were just temporary.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Fronsac is a scientist by profession, being one of the most accomplished in his field, a veteran of the French-Indian Wars who rose to Captain through valor in battle, and shown to be just as skilled as Mani in melee combat.
    • Jean-François is clearly a knowledgeable fellow who is a Handicapped Badass with his own modified gun. More than he looks in both fields.
  • Badass Native: Mani, a native American Indian and exceptionally skilled tracker and fighter both hand-to-hand and with tomahawks.
  • Badass Longcoat: The greatcoats worn by Fronsac and Mani at the very beginning upon their arrival in Gévaudan under a heavy rain. The image was used on most promotional material, even though they only wear them in one scene.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Brotherhood keep dogs to feed the Beast. There's also the abuse Jean-François inflicted on the Beast while raising it to be his attack animal.
  • The Baroness: Sylvia.
  • Battle in the Rain: Mani's opening fight against the local thugs takes place in a heavy downpour.
  • The Beast Master: Jean-François, apparently from his time spent in Africa.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: The disguised soldiers are armed with staves and sticks, but as soon as Mani gets his hands on one, he wreckes all of them with his infinitely better abilities, complementing it with well placed kicks here and there.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Mani, judging from the prostitute's reaction.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Jean-François looks to be an elegant eccentric, but whenever he gets drunk, he turns very unpleasant. And that's nothing compared to his other sides.
    • La Bavarde is not as innocent as she looks and in fact is part of the Brotherhood's thugs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The villains of the piece are killed and their plot is thwarted, but the heroes don't fare much better. Mani's dead; the much feared beast was just an innocent animal who was forced to slaughter people by its sadistic owner, and Fronsac has to Mercy Kill it; the Marquis d'Apcher — one of the few decent people in this whole thing — is recalling the story as he's about to be sent to the guillotine; and all he can do is hope that Fronsac and Marianne got their happily ever after. At least there are hints that they did get it. Actually, the REAL Marquis d'Apcher lived through the Terror and died in Barcelona in 1798. So... spared by real life?
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The gypsy men's preferred weapons are long metal claws attached to a handle.
  • Brain Fever: Marianne falls deadly ill by the end of the film after being raped by Jean-François. Don't worry, though; she gets better.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to both Fronsac and Marianne near the end.
    • After Mani's death, Fronsac goes from cheerful and witty to grief stricken and vengeful. After he avenges his friend's death, he then finds out that the woman he loves was raped and is close to death. Although he saves her, the whole experience leaves him much more solemn than he was at the beginning.
    • Marianne is falsely told that the man she loves is dead, and then learns her brother is behind everything. Then she gets raped by said brother. She nearly dies from Brain Fever as a result. Thankfully, Fronsac saves her.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Jean-François is psychotically attracted to Marianne and certainly wants her. He ends up raping her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or rather, Chekhov's handcrafted silver bullet. Also, the bone-sword, glimpsed briefly in Jean-Francois' occult Room Full of Crazy.
  • Church Militant: Sylvia is actually a spy for the Vatican.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Sylvia slits a woman's throat with a serrated fan.
  • Cool Sword: Doesn't get much cooler than the one used by Jean-François: a BFS made from a large animal spine... whose segments are linked together by an extendable chain, allowing it to be converted into a Whip Sword and back again in an instant.
  • The Corruptible: Jean-François cries over his incestuous desires and believes only faith can save him, and it's strongly implied Sardis is using those feelings to emotionally manipulate him into doing the Brotherhood's bidding.
  • Cult: More of a secret society, really. The eponymous Brotherhood of the Wolf is a group of conservative aristocrats, originally backed by the Vatican, seeking to hold on to the old ways by putting the fear of God into the hearts of the commoners by way of highly trained, homicidal beast. From their point of view, perhaps a justifiable plan, seeing as the film ends with aristocratic good guy Thomas d'Apcher — now old, he's been retelling experiences from when he was a young man — being taken to his execution by revolutionaries.
  • Dark Action Girl: The two gypsy girls who join the brawl against Mani. They look just as trained and even more confident than the men.
  • Dark Chick: La Bavarde, the epileptic gypsy girl who apparently can't get enough violence. Even her father is disturbed by this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jean-François was troubled by his attraction to his own sister, so he traveled to Africa with the royal navy in an attempt to get away from her. It didn't work, and he returned even crazier and more psychotic due to a lion's attack and other presumable experiences.
  • Darkest Africa: Jean-François traveled to Africa and clearly doesn't have good memories of it, describing the indigenous as savage cannibals and revealing that a lion mauled him here. His evil lair is also full of African masks and artwork, and it turns out he brought a pregnant lioness too.
  • Deadpan Snarker: one of the first thing's we're told about Fronsac is that he's "a wit," which he lives up to especially when flirting with Marianne (who herself can give as good as she gets).
  • Designated Girl Fight: Fronsac does kill a number of gypsy women, but at the end, Sylvia is the one to take out La Bavarde. It's more of a Curb-Stomp Battle, though, as La Bavarde doesn't get to land a stab..
  • Devious Daggers: When pulling all the stops and going on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, the pragmatic Fronsac favors a big bowie-like hunting knife (it might cross into Psycho Knife Nut too given his brutal attitude at the time). For the final duel, he replaces it with two huge, medieval-looking daggers, although ironically this time he has changed to a much more theatrical presentation with religious speeches and a lot of Weapon Twirling.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Beast is badly wounded after the fight in the forest, and spends the climax being tended to by Chastel.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Mani prefers a tomahawk. He says "Too much smoke, too much noise, bad smell."
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Although Sardis is the leader of the Brotherhood and the big decision-maker, it is Jean-François, the Beast's trainer, who is the film's primary antagonist.
  • Dual Wielding: Fronsac uses two daggers with lethal efficiency during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Brotherhood's mooks include women and gypsy people without any distinction, and Jean-François's words imply he doesn't consider Africans to be inferior to whites either, which is quite an advanced view for the time and place.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: And most of its Sister Tropes.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Almost every character in the film has martial arts moves, usually focused on the French kicking style of savate or the usage of some weapon.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Notably, Chastel tries to hand his own daughter over to the aristocrats for being the instigator of the brawl between Many and the gypsies.
    • The Catholic Church ultimately decides that keeping its power over France is not worth the death and suffering the Brotherhood spreads.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Chastel, who works for the Brotherhood, is disturbed of his daughter's love for violence.
  • The Faceless: King Louis XV is only seen from behind.
  • Facial Markings: Mani's warpaint which is later also used by Fronsac.
  • Faking the Dead: Fronsac has his death faked by Sylvia.
  • Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: Fronsac shows the Fur-Bearing Trout to French aristocrats until one catches onto the forgery. It allows him to talk about his theory on the nature of the Wolf.
  • Femme Fatale: Sylvia.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Thomas, Marquis d'Apcher, tells the story of hero Grégoire de Fronsac.
  • Gangsta Style: Fronsac fires two flintlock pistols this way during a target practice sequence. Hilarious if you know anything about flintlock weapons: not only would aiming them that way make an already-inaccurate weapon even more so, but they simply wouldn't be able to fire in that position.
  • Genre Shift: More like genre blender, actually.
  • Great White Hunter: Fronsac is sent to investigate the beast because of his skill as a naturalist and a hunter. He teams up with a non-white, though.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Fronsac uses two swords during the climax. Luckily the villain brought his own.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gregoire and Mani
  • High-Class Call Girl: Sylvia claims to be "expensive".
  • Hunter Trapper: The hunters brought in to hunt the beast are a rough and ready bunch who fit this mold.
  • The Ingenue: The count of Monragias, Jean-Francois and Marianne's father. And one of the few aristocrats who knew nothing about the cult.
  • Karmic Death: Henri Sardis, creator and leader of the Brotherhood escapes arrest only to be chased down by the pack of wolves, a number of which were previously slaughtered under the misguided assumptions of being the Beast.
  • Knife Fight: There are several bladed fights through the film, although few of them prolonged.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • While Fronsac is demonstrated to be a tough guy right from the start, Mani seems to be the real muscle of the group. In the third act, however, Fronsac pulls out the stops and basically murders 3/4 of the cast.
    • A villainous example occurs with Jean-François, who spends most of the film as a somewhat foppish, crippled aristocrat who likes guns. In the third act, he reveals that he's not a cripple after all, but a rather hulking bruiser with a sword made from an animal spine.
  • Magical Native American: Mani has an air of mysticism about him — according to Fronsac he was "a sort of priest" to his tribe, presumably a shaman and/or medicine man — and seems to have some sort of psychic connection with a wolf (and in deleted scenes, with a raven). However, he also shows hints of being fully aware of the archetype and quite the Deadpan Snarker.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The conspirators wear red cloaks and masks.
  • Marked Bullet: Jean-François uses silver bullets to "sign" his shots. This ends up coming back to haunt him later.
  • Mercy Kill: Fronsac, towards the Beast.
  • Mook Chivalry:
    • Justified. The opening brawl consists of the mooks circling around Mani and doing nothing until it's their time to charge him, although one can feel they are afraid of the masked stranger who handles his staff like a boss and simply don't dare to take the initiative.
    • Less justifiable later, though, as the brawl during the hunting trip sees multiple gypsies looking angry and wielding Wolverine Claws against Mani, yet all of them being equally tentative to engage.
    • Then Mani's death subverts this, as one of the gypsies wounds him In the Back by not following Mook Chivalry.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Monica Bellucci once again displays her willingness to disrobe. No one complains.
  • Nature Hero: Mani has an affinity with nature that nobody else has. He's even seemingly able to ask a wolf pack to help him in trying to capture the beast.
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: Fronsac and Mani.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The Beast is actually a big lion disguised as a monster with metal spikes and shards by the Brotherhood members and trained to scare and/or kill the villagers. The Brotherhood, and Jean-François in particular, are the real villains.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Jean-François's right arm has not been amputated, it was just horribly mangled. He also let his fingernails grow.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: All the women wear one, but especially the prostitutes, for whom it's their only clothing.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Actual werewolves don't appear, but the Gevaudan myth is so often associated with them that the movie must at least play with this trope in passing, most notably with Jean-François' silver bullets, with Fronsac teasing him about believing in werewolves (it's really so that his bullets will be distinctive).
  • Pet the Dog: Jean-François gets snarky at Mani's shamanic customs when he gets drunk, but unlike most other French aristocrats, he never says anything racist, and he comments to Fronsac that, judging by his experience, French and African people are just as savage. This trait seem to be genuine given that his henchmen are just as diverse as implied.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Justified in that we're moving among mid-18th century French aristocrats.
  • Politically Correct Villain: Jean-François believes that French and Africans are equally savage and superstitious. Either true or not, by the standards of the 18th century France, this kind of appreciation would have been scandalously non-racist.
  • Psycho for Hire: Jean-Francois to the Brotherhood.
  • The Quiet One: Mani doesn't talk much; in fact he doesn't have a single line for the first half-hour or so, leaving it slightly ambiguous whether he actually speaks French. It's not clear if he does this deliberately so people will say things around him that they otherwise wouldn't or if he's just a man of few words by nature; either possibility would be in-character for him.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Fronsac and Mani, respectively, which is reflected best in their fighting styles. Mani's is graceful and relaxed, dodging a lot, sparing hits, and aiming for well-placed knockdowns, and he avoids killing unless fighting for his life. Meanwhile, Fronsac's is direct and violent, relying in highly aggressive takedowns and lethal attacks, and visibly relishes the bloodshed when out for revenge.
  • The Reveal: Jean-François didn't lose his arm to a lion in a hunting accident. It just got badly mangled, and he's had it tied behind his back pretending to be crippled ever since, probably to throw the scent off his trail as the enforcer of the Brotherhood.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The story is bookended with an older Thomas d'Apcher, a good-hearted aristocrat, about to be killed by a revolutionary mob.
  • Right Through His Pants: Fronsac with Sylvia, a strange example in an otherwise breezy film.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fronsac after Mani is killed.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Mani.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: The Beast wears armor covered in bone and metal spikes that makes it appear more monstrous. The armor doesn't appear to hinder its movements, but it doesn't completely stops human weapons either, which allows Fronsac and Mani wound the Beast.
  • Scenery Porn: Both played straight (the set designs are gorgeous), and with a bit of a pun (the naked form of Monica Bellucci forms a couple of the hills in a lingering outdoor shot).
  • Shout-Out: The Whip Sword is lifted directly from Soulcalibur.
  • Silver Bullet: Jean-François' signature bullets. Autographed, no less.
  • Silent Snarker: Mani doesn't talk much but that doesn't stop him from making his opinions on certain people abundantly clear.
  • Simple Staff: The soldiers disguised as women are armed with staves. Unfortunately for them, Mani is much more skilled at it.
  • Sinister Minister: More subtle than most examples, but Henri Sardis certainly qualifies.
  • Slashed Throat: The final fight scene sees some characters getting bloody and direct with this trope.
  • Slurpasaur: An in-verse example: the Beast is an attack-trained lion dressed up in blade-studded barding.
  • Stop Helping Me!!: The Brotherhood's goal is to increase the political power of the Catholic Church in France; judging by the Holy See sending Sylvia to deal with them, it's clear that their efforts were unwanted.
  • Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: The Beast, actually a lion in Scary Impractical Armor, somehow manages to sneak through the French woods and countryside without leaving a trace.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: During Fronsac's Roaring Rampage of Revenge, a gypsy gets smashed four times against the walls, then stabbed twice in the neck, then thrown through a door, and then jump-kicked further through the door.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Sort of. As his thoat has been slashed by Fronsac, Jean-François grabs one of Fronsac swords with his Whip Sword. Fronsac lets the sword go when Jean-François pulls his whipsword back to reassemble it, impaling Jean-François in the process.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Fronsac after Mani is killed. Or at least, it seems that way from the point of the view of the rest of the characters, since up until then Fronsac had been content to let Mani handle badass duty. It turns out he was just as badass as Mani all along, if not more so, and when properly motivated he plows a path of utter destruction that makes a viewer wonder why he even kept Mani around at all. However, in the deleted scenes, the first fight segment (Mani vs the villagers with staffs), Fronsac tags in later, and finally the two fight together.
    • The movie actually has some fun here as it mentions a custom of Mani's people involving consuming hearts of their dead to absorb their strength and knowledge. Whether that's what happened or Fronsac was that badass all along is an exercise left to the viewer.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Oh boy... Local reactionary nobility decided to fabricate the Beast as a punishment from God, to scare both peasantry and the royal court into doing whatever they want them to do.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Mani rescues La Bavarde in the prologue, she repays him by taunting him with fake flirting and then having two gypsy mooks attack him during the hunting trip. Furthermore, she later helps the Brotherhood in their brawl against Mani, and is the ultimate cause of his death when she distracts him in the worst moment.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Fronsac does an amusing one during the final duel after running and jumping off a tree.
  • Unreliable Narrator: With regards to the ending, at least. The Marquis admits that he doesn't actually know what happened to Fronsac and Marianne after the story, "but it pleases me to think they were happy". The ending scene suggests that he was right, but it could just be his imagination.
  • The Unreveal: It's never explicitly said what kind of animal the Beast is. All we are told is that it's the offspring of an animal that Jean-François brought back with him from Africa, which might or might not be related to the lion that mangled his arm. Viewers only get a hint at a shot to the animal's unarmored eyes, revealing cat-like irises and golden fur. According to the producers, the implications that it is a lion are true.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The Beast of Gevaudan is the name given to a man-eating wolf-like creature that terrorized the the province of Gevaudan from 1764 to 1767. Suffice to say, the director and the screenplay writers took plenty of liberties with the story. For instance, most historians consider that the Morangiès family wasn't involved in the Beast's attacks in any way. Also, the real Marquis d'Apcher survived the French Revolution and died in 1798.
  • Weaponized Animal: The Beast. It's unspecified African predator, tooled with a scary armour and trained to attack people on command. Then it's left to roam the countryside, hunting for people and doing the biddings of its owners.
  • Weapon Twirling: Fronsac spins his twin daggers a lot. Interestingly, in order to achieve the effect, the prop weapons were equipped with a spinning knob behind the cross, which is perfectly visible during the fights (and could be considered an in-universe feature given Fronsac's showmanship at the scene).
  • Whip Sword: Jean-François wields one in the climatic duel with Fronsac. How it is built looks difficult to describe, but the blade's bulk and its unusual configuration (it's made from an animal vertebral column) probably help to shelter some kind of magnetic mechanism to keep it extended while used as a sword.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Straight and then subverted. At the end, Fronsac intrudes the Brotherhood's meeting and confronts them with a long monologue, but nobody thinks to attack him during its course. Only at the end of the speech a gypsy shoots him, but by this point Fronsac has jumped off his high place and it misses.
  • The Wise Prince: Thomas, young Marquis d'Apcher, one of the few aristocrats that fully trusts Fronsac and who sees Mani as a person, and not as a savage. It's possible that this is why the other aristocrats never considered him to join their cult.
  • Wise Serpent: Mani, the Native American sidekick to the hero Fronsac, is asked to identify the totem animals of the French noble family that they're visiting. He identifies the sympathetic, bookish Thomas's as the snake, which causes a moment of awkwardness until Fronsac explains that in Mani's culture, the snake symbolises intellect.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Brotherhood's mooks uses gauntlets with blades attached to the knuckles as their standard weapons.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Mani and Fronsac don't have much of a problem fighting the female gypsies, though Mani seems to go a bit easier on them in their initial dust-up. Except La Bavarde, the woman they saved when they first arrived into town. This ends up costing Mani his life.


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