I watched The Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) yesterday. It’s about a botanist and an Iroquois mystic fighting a wolf with metal teeth in the French countryside. It has kung fu and Monica Bellucci.
The fights in the movie aren’t that great, although the bit with Vincent Cassell and his retractable bone sword (not a euphemism) are creative and fun. It’s weird because it inhabits a time when Western filmmakers were still just discovering things like fight choreography. A concept like this would make a great movie today, with some updated FC. But not this movie, per se. A new movie. With a new idea.
Watching BoW, it’s hard to believe there used to be a time, not all that long ago, that movies like this got made. There’s some cringey pre-woke stuff in there, too, particularly to do with Mani, the Iroquois sidekick. What’s hilarious though is that, from my perspective, all the spirit totems, face paint, and tomahawk brutality that would register today as insensitive is, in my estimation, extremely badass. I wonder what percentage of Native Americans outside of academia would watch that movie and think “this guy rules” rather than “this is offensive.” Hard to say, obviously. It’d vary from person to person.
The film also, as I’ve said, features Monica Bellucci as a hooker spy, which is exactly the kind of role you’d want to see her in, IN ADDITION TO OTHER, MORE RESPECTFUL ROLES. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Western cinema took this turn where everything had to be grim and serious. Roles had to showcase the full spectrum of humanity, but not really, because all they did was make everything kind of sour and boring. This is a movie that attempts to deliver weirdo kung fu thrills and nudity. It’s pure of heart in that way. What’s the “agenda” of this movie? I couldn’t find one.
Although there is a theme running through the movie about how pagan religions and the great unwashed masses are dangerous and violent if allowed to fall outside the strict rules set by a monarchy/church. It’s not hard to parse out, and I disagree…but who gives a shit?
It doesn’t pass today’s smell test with regards to its content, but I also hate that I even think about that. You watch movies made even ten years ago (rather than twenty) and think “this could never get made today.” And that’s sad.
But hey, that’s why the internet exists, I guess. You can find anything if you know how to google properly.