Friday, April 12, 2013
Le Pacte Des Loups (2001)
"Bonjour, je voudrais le loup dans le Gevudan!"
Christophe Gans, the little filmmaker who can. While he has directed only a few films which you can count with the fingers on one hand, he truly is a great director who gets the shaft whenever he wants to make movies. He wanted to do an adaption of Silent Hill 2 after he did Onimusha and was also going to do Rahan; Captain Nemo and the Nautilus; Fantomas; Swedish Knight; and countless other films that died a horrible death. While Onimusha was only a few months shy of filming, Heath Ledger died while filming Dr. Parnassus. This caused the producer, Samuel Hadida, to scramble and shut down every film that was not rolling.
It's a real shame, as French filmmaker Christophe Gans is a master at his craft. With his second, out of three, full length feature; Le Pacte Des Loups, it's based on the true story of the Beast of Gevudan. The beast, which is claimed to be a monstrous wolf or even a werewolf; stalked the French countryside in the 1700's. The beast killed and disfigured countless, unsuspecting women and children; but oddly few men were attacked.
In this film adaption of the true story, a knight named Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan, Frontiere(s)) and his Native American friend (Mark Dacascos, I Am Omega) go to Gevudan to kill the beast by orders of the king of France. They meet the royal family and Fronsac falls for both the daughter, Marianne (Emilie Dequenne); and the mysterious prostitute, played by Monica Bellucci. As Fronsac draws in closer to the lair of the beast, things are not as it seems in this community and the tables soon turn with Fronsac and Mani fighting for their lives.
Vincent Cassell makes an awesome villain in this movie and does a tremendous job. Most of the actors are great and go above and beyond in this film and it puzzles me that we can see Mark Dacascos in this and then see him in other films like, Cradle 2 the Grave and I Am Omega. Monica Bellucci naked is nothing new and is a great treat whenever she shows up on screen. And Samuel Le Bihan is great as the lead protagonist in this film.
I remember being twelve years old whenever this hit DVD, I remember being disappointed that I missed this in theaters. The cut of the film on this Blu-ray is the director's cut which runs almost two-and-a-half-hours long. I feel that the restored scenes in this cut makes Christophe Gans' vision a stronger movie. As we have scenes in which Marianne and Sylvia (Bellucci) interacting in this cut, whereas they have no real knowledge of each other's existance in the American theatrical cut of the film. This movie is one in my top ten films of all time. I give the film 5/5.
Presented in 1080p and in 2.35:1; Studio Canal's transfer of Le Pacte Des Loups might seem a bit dated, but, the video is pretty strong. Grain is pretty strong, however in some spots it seems weak. In darker scenes, especially towards the end of the film, the grain is bright white and it does wash out the image a bit. For the most part, the transfer is good on the eyes. Very beautiful, but, not close to perfection as I wish it could be. I give the video transfer a 4/5.
Note: To access the film with English subtitles, you have to select "UNITED KINGDOM" on the first screen.
Studio Canal presents the film in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 French audio track. Even though this is the only track on the disc, it's booming whenever there's action. And then it's quiet and somber whenever the scenery gets drap or depressing. I'm sure if I had a proper set up, this would be demo audio. I give this audio a 5/5.
Only bonus material on this disc is quite pathetic and brings the disc down. We have a video and audio calibration on the disc. That's it. No trailers or anything. Such a shame. .5/5
While I haven't seen and don't really plan on getting the UK disc, I can recommend the French Blu-ray if you can play Region B locked discs. If not, go for the German Blu-ray which is Region Free, despite the fact it has English dubbing and not English subs if you really want this film. This disc is worth a spin. 3.5/5.