Posts Tagged ‘action’

Peter Goldson is an FBI agent known as The Stabilizer, because, well, it sounds sorta cool. Don’t over-think it. When a brilliant scientist goes missing in Jakarta, Goldson suspects his arch-nemesis is responsible, so he gathers a team and sets about taking him down.

Made in Indonesia and distributed by the legendary “Troma Entertainment”, “The Stabiliser” is one of a series of trashy action knock-offs made by prolific mono-named hack Arizal. Essentially, this is his “James Bond” mixed with a bit of “Mission: Impossible”; a big dollop of nonsensical action cheese, carried out with startling incompetence.

In the title role is Peter O’Brian, a New Zealand born actor whose mere presence in a film is a guarantee of quality. Low quality. His hair is a magnificent artefact of the 80s, deserving of a place in a museum, while his performance here is stiff, wooden and full of bizarre poses; moments where he stops moving completely and seems to tense every muscle in his body for absolutely no reason. His New Zealand accent was probably not what Arizal wanted for his American super agent, so he is hilariously dubbed with a voice that would seem more at home in a toothpaste advert than an action movie.

O’Brian’s most famous role is his portrayal of the completely original and in no way copyright infringing character “Rambu” from “The Intruder”. Based on that, and the fact that here he adorns the walls of his house with posters of himself dressed up as Cobretti from “Cobra”, he is clearly supposed to have some kind of resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, although he looks far more like the illegitimate love-child of an unholy union between David Hasselhoff and a horse.

The main villain is the brilliantly named Rainmaker. Greg Rainmaker. Greg. Because there really are not enough super-villains called Greg. He is a drug-dealing, rapist murderer who has spikes on the bottom of his shoes and a pronounced limp. In a film with unquestionably the most heavy-handed audio effects ever loosely bolted onto moving pictures, the over-eager foley artists really went to town on the spikes and the limp, making any scene Rainmaker appears in an absolute hoot as he slowly “tap-pause-taps” across every room.

Seemingly filmed with no sound whatsoever, the dubbing is at once completely awful, and also strangely endearing. Bless ’em, they really did try to make the words fit the flapping lips and long pauses, leading to oddly broken up sentences and single word responses that make absolutely no sense. “Pause, Pause, Pause, BULLSHIT, Pause, Pause, Cut”.

This film has it all. Bad kung-fu. Messy gun-fights. Someone getting punched in the head by a motorbike. Incidental characters macking on live lizards before biting their heads off and eating them. Baggy leopard-print trousers. An Indonesian Mr T lookalike. A bad guy dying and leaving behind a piece of card with some squiggles and the words “Location Map” written on it. Goldson looking at that and saying “This might lead somewhere”. The word “bullshit”. Blue cans. More blue cans. Even more blue cans. Drink every time you see a blue can and your liver will pack up a bindle and hit the road long before the credits roll.

A film rammed with weirdness and ineptitude, coupled with gloriously excessive action and seemingly random explosions; “The Stabilizer” is an unmissable slice of 80s trash cinema, both hilariously bad and a hell of a lot of fun.

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A bitter and long-running feud between two rival Yakuza gangs takes in the aspiring actress daughter of one of the bosses, the love of her life that she never knew she had and a gaggle of aspiring film-makers who dub themselves “The Fuck Bombers”.

“Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is a comedy-action movie from Shion Sono, probably best known in the West for the dark horror/drama “Suicide Club”. It’s been a lean few years for fans of the talented Japanese auteur, and his most recent films have failed to live up to the high expectations set by his best work. “Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is a rip-roaring return to form, a love letter to film fans that delivers pure enjoyment in the weird, darkly fun way that only Japanese cinema is capable of.

The first hour of the film assembles all the pieces of the jigsaw, and slowly slots them into place. Relationships are established and others formed against a backdrop of silly over-the-top comedy and bursts of extreme violence presented so stylishly that they are absurd rather than off-putting. The set-up most closely resembles that of a farce, as the disparate threads are deliberately woven together to set the scene for the ultimate confrontation between the bizarre cast of mugging grotesques and delusional caricatures. While it is easy to see where the film is heading, something that those unused to the pace of Japanese cinema may find frustrating, there is still more than enough going on to make this all extremely enjoyable in it’s own right.

It is during the big battle between the Yakuza gangs, taking up the bulk of the final stretch, that the film really takes flight. Gloriously excessive, outrageously ridiculous and somehow still surprising in the turns it takes despite how telegraphed the resolution is. There is a real glee to the action, referencing the films of Bruce Lee, “Kill Bill” and even “Bonnie and Clyde”, that draws you in; leaving your jaw hanging in sheer awe at the decadence of the violence. Sono shamelessly pulls out every trick he can think of to keep it all fresh, like a conjurer high on speed pulling rabbits from every orifice without ever pausing for applause.

Despite the sheer volume of bloodshed, it was clearly not Sono’s intention for this film to be taken seriously. Never has the phrase “it’s only a movie” been more apt, given the constant reminders that this is no sort of reality. “Just sit back and enjoy the ride, film fans” he seems to be saying, and what a ride he has constructed. Knowingly weird, wilfully obscure and, at times, borderline nonsensical; this is a terrifically fun film with plenty of laughs and an epic conclusion that will leave you with adrenaline coursing through your veins.

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Princess Evie is deposed by the evil sorcerer Jerak, and now roams the wilds incognito. When she crosses paths with the famed swordsman Deathstalker, they join forces on a quest to reclaim her kingdom.

Although nominally a sequel to 1983 sword and sorcery cash-in “Deathstalker”, “Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans” couldn’t be much more different from it’s Conan rip-off big brother. While the original took itself incredibly seriously, the sequel is essentially a wild-eyed parody of that film, a scattergun spoof that never takes it’s tongue from it’s cheek.

Replacing Rick Hill, the meat-headed lunk who portrayed Deathstalker in the first movie, is John Terlesky, having an absolute whale of a time. He keeps the character’s nonchalant attitude, but turns him from brutish barbarian anti-hero into a wise-cracking rogue hiding a soft side, a sword wielding cross between Groucho Marx and Han Solo. His enthusiasm for the role is genuinely infectious, and his performance alone makes this by far the best film in the Deathstalker series.

Former Penthouse model Monique Gabrielle takes on the duel role of the deposed Princess as well as her evil doppelganger and she simply can’t act. Not even a little bit. Still, she is so innocent and charming that you really don’t care, and her lack of skills become part of the fun, whether it be staring blankly into her cheap knock-off crystal ball, hilariously attempting to channel the voice of the bad guy or angrily throwing objects at midget musicians.

The film was directed by B-movie stalwart Jim Wynorski, best known for the terrifically fun “Chopping Mall”. He also had a big hand in the script and is the man to thank for the film’s endearing light-heartedness. He knew exactly what type of film he was making and ramped up the campiness, striving to make everything as much fun as he could. Much like the ZAZ comedies of the time like “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun”, the film openly spoofs other movies by using their most famous scenes in an incongruous setting, with humorous nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Goldfinger” and even “Rocky” as well as many more. It is one of these moments that provides the film’s only major bum note, an overlong parody of a pro-wrestling match that drags on interminably, an idea that may have seemed good at the time but doesn’t work in practice.

Although flawed, “Deathstalker 2” is a cheesy, campy, over-the-top spoof of itself, fully aware of it’s failings and all the better for it. It may be incredibly low-budget, and fairly badly made (look closely and you will find footage from the original “Deathstalker” filling up it’s runtime and even a parked car popping up in the background of one shot) with performances that often dip toward incredibly inept, but it is quite simply a ridiculous amount of fun, a real 80s B-movie treasure. Stick around for the end-credits out-takes too.

odd thomas (2013)

Posted: February 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Odd Thomas is a short order cook in the small town of Pico Mundo harbouring a dark secret: he can see dead people. He uses his psychic gift to track down murderers, until one day he stumbles upon clues that lead him to believe that a massacre is being planned. But can he put the pieces of the puzzle together in time to prevent it?

“Odd Thomas” is a weird hybrid of horror, teen comedy and Michael Bay-esque action-fest from “The Mummy” director Stephen Sommers, based on a novel by Dean R Koontz. It tries to be quirky, funny and scary but fails at all three, ending up dumb and overblown, as if someone lobotomised “The Sixth Sense” and force-fed it steroids until it had a stroke.

Rising star Anton Yelcin is passable in the lead, possessing a certain charisma that carries him through his under-developed role. He wrings laughs out of a few of his better lines and does quite well in the action scenes, although having messed-up hair and frowning while everyone calls him quirky is not really a substitute for having an actual character. He is lumbered with constant stilted expository dialogue, mostly delivered through a trite narration, as the film does it’s best to get right down to business without bothering too much with trifling details like character development or connecting with the audience.

This is a movie that has tried to paint the story in as few brushstrokes as possible, with constant flashbacks filling in any blanks left by the continuous voiceover, leaving much of the plot feeling lazily tacked on. Damningly for a film centred around unravelling a mystery, the viewer is always one step ahead of the protagonists and anyone who has seen an episode of Scooby-Doo will have the whole thing worked out a third of the way through.

Yelcin aside, the cast are laughably poor and largely forgettable; a collection of preening eye-candy in low-cut tops and charisma-free ken-dolls with the acting chops of balsa wood.

Worst of the bunch is Addison Timlin as the ridiculously named, and incredibly annoying, damsel-in-distress Stormy Llewellyn. Her performance is completely devoid of passion or humanity as she delivers her lines with the emotional range and speech pattern of a “Speak & Spell”. She is not helped by being given some of the worst dialogue ever spoken in a major motion picture, ranging from the bizarre (“You know why i call you pooh bear…because your head is full of stuffing”) to the strangely offensive (“I’m a woman, we all have issues, it’s what keeps us interesting and you men interested”) and sometimes just plain nonsense (“You have to learn to listen with more than just your ears”).

Sommers’ star from the “Mummy” franchise, Arnold Vosloo, has a brief cameo that actually works extremely well as a bizarre comedic aside. The usually reliable Patton Oswalt also pitches up, appearing incredibly out of place doing a joke free version of his usual schtick, as if he wandered on to the wrong set, was forced into an ill-fitting costume and pushed in front of the camera.

Willem Defoe is handed a slightly more substantial role as the chief of police who aids Odd in his crusade, with a running gag about interruptions to his “date night” one of the few comedic elements that consistently hits home. He may be on cruise control but Defoe is always a welcome presence, although a late “emotional” scene shows that even an actor of his caliber wasn’t immune to the bad-acting bug that was going around the set.

While the film is relatively stylish in look, with lots of flashy camerawork and unusual angles, it all lacks originality, being soullessly derivative of far better, more interesting movies. Even worse, there seems to have been a real absence of care in the making of this film, and the only element more telegraphed than the numerous twists are the anodyne jump-scares, defeating the point of having either. The lackadaisical attitude of the makers is summed up by a scene where an old couple walk past our heroes in a diner and in the very next shot we see the same couple walking in through the entrance, as if the audience wouldn’t notice or care about the time travelling geriatrics.

“Odd Thomas” has an interesting premise, fast pace and is relatively fun, none of which manage to disguise how slipshod the whole affair ended up being. The intent was clearly to make a version of Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners” that would be accessible to teenagers, but the finished product more closely resembles “Donnie Darko” for the intellectually disabled.

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With the Yakuza running rampant in Los Angeles, “Samurai Cop” Joe Marshall is brought in from San Diego to deal with their threat.

“Samurai Cop” is a 1989 thriller from writer/director Amir Shervan, an Iranian millionaire who, based on having cranked out a few black and white shorts for the Iranian Ministry of Culture in the late 70s, reckoned that making action blockbusters would be a piece of cake, so he moved to the USA and had a crack. The end result is every bit as bizarre as you would expect.

The first point of warning is; don’t be fooled by the title. Despite this film claiming to be about a samurai, this in no way resembles a martial arts film. The majority of the fight scenes are poorly choreographed fist fights or choppily edited gun battles where everyone seems to be in a completely different location. Extras are offed in hilarious fashion, convulsing half-heartedly and holding the dried ketchup stains on their shirts as they are riddled with invisible bullets.

The whole film has been put together in completely random manner with scant regard for any film-making convention. A brutal torture scene suddenly cuts to our beefcake hero wearing nothing but overly tight speedos and walking into a room holding a cake singing “Happy Birthday” before briefly seeming to forget the name of the woman he’s singing it to. Then they have sex, one of the many completely gratuitous sex scenes that litter the movie.

Indeed, if you ever wanted to see naked women lying on a bed and looking extremely uncomfortable while being fondled by freakish men in their underwear, then this is the movie you have been waiting for. To make these scenes even more awkward they consistently arrive from nowhere, just like everything in the film. One minute you are watching a massive, poorly executed gun fight and suddenly you’re slap bang in the middle of a graceless, slobbering sex scene.

To give you an idea of how strange this movie is, there is a whole scene with a mounted lion head in the background, except, evidently, they couldn’t afford the genuine article so they cut the head off a large cuddly toy and stuck it on the wall. Another scene plays out with the actors partially obscured by a tiny sculpture in a bafflingly clumsy attempt at Hitchcockian artiness.

The Samurai Cop of the title is former carpenter and future bodyguard for Sylvester Stallone, Matt Hannon, who got the role despite a complete lack of acting skills or fighting skills or any skills that might be useful in the making of a movie. His main selling points appear to have been his impressive build, incredible hair and a willingness to spend a good portion of the movie walking around in nothing but an uncomfortably small pair of budgie smugglers. He zones out during long takes, mis-delivers lines (“Now, i’m telling these son of a bitches”) and generally looks incredibly uncomfortable. Still, that hair is awesome and he has a goofy charm that makes his character a lot of fun; the film wouldn’t be the same without this big hulking mass threatening bad guys and macking hilariously on every lady in sight.

Hannon is in good company, as it seems the casting criteria for the film was walking up to people in the street and asking them “Do you want to be in a movie?” with anyone who said “yes” getting the gig.

The “name star” Shervan got to appear is genre stalwart Robert Z’dar, possessor of the most alarming looking chin in all of show business. Amusingly, he is playing a Japanese character, despite looking in no way Japanese. This was solved by having him grow a beard, meaning that although he didn’t look Japanese, or sound Japanese, he did have a beard. It’s genius really.

The film opens with a soundtrack that seems to have been composed on a Nintendo Entertainment System, which is, amazingly, the musical highpoint. At times if feels as if the composer simply pressed the demo button on his Yamaha (“or Omaha or whatever his face’s name is”) keyboard and passed out drunk. It was then left to his slightly less wasted drinking buddy, who due to a tragic accident had been left with bowling-balls for hands, to fill in the gaps. The same music plays over sex scenes and fight scenes, sudden musical flares accompany dramatic moments like, er, someone standing up and, in one hilarious moment, an actor seems to miss their cue by a few seconds, leaving Billy Bowling-Ball-Hands hitting the same note over and over again until they finally appear in shot.

The dialogue is probably best described as “exactly how a 60 year old Iranian with a limited grasp of English would think Americans talk”, although that assumes that any of this dialogue was ever written down at all. There is a woman whose sole job is to say “Here comes the boss” just before her boss arrives, while the flirting in this movie is truly epic. In reply to being told to “Keep it up” our hero suavely remarks “Oh, it’s up and ready, you just keep it warm”. Unbelievably, that is about as subtle as it gets in this film.

The attempts at comedy are mostly based around extreme racial stereotypes. The “witty” banter between the Samurai Cop and his black partner is a great example of this, full of references to “black asses” and his “black gift”. The high (or low, depending on how you look at it) point is a brief cameo from an incredibly camp Costa Rican waiter whose slim grasp of English is mined for many “laughs”, a malodorous scene guaranteed to leave your jaw slackened in awe at the astonishing lack of taste.

“Samurai Cop” is inept in every conceivable department, from acting and writing to direction and music; literally nothing works. It is also hilarious in the most bizarre way, a hideous car crash where everyone involved was driving a clown car and bleeding custard. For those who take pleasure in the depths cinema can plumb, this is a must watch, a genuine trash cinema masterpiece that has to be seen to be believed.

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A group of estranged childhood friends gather together as adults despite their personal differences and return to their old hometown to attempt a legendary pub crawl they failed as youths. Upon arriving at their old stomping ground they find things strangely alien, but they have no idea exactly how alien things have become…

“The World’s End” is the third cinematic collaboration of “Spaced” creators Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright, a triumvirate of films that has become known as “The Three Flavours Cornetto”. Every movie in this trilogy has allowed them to attack different a genre and give it their own unique spin, with “Shawn of the Dead” being their take on zombie movies, while “Hot Fuzz” was a loving salute to Hollywood action blockbusters set in a sleepy Somerset village. “The World’s End” is a primarily a tribute to classic British science fiction with a good dollop of contemporary American action sci-fi thrown in to keep modern audiences pleased.

Whereas the previous instalments in the trilogy have been rooted in the friendship between Pegg & Frost’s characters, here that dynamic is much less at the fore. Pegg’s Gary King, rather than the hero, is a belligerent fool, an unsympathetic catalyst for the action. Frost’s Andy Knightly is equally damaged; bitter, angry and unforgiving toward his former friend. They don’t need each other or even like each other and rather than become closer together they simply realise they can never be as close as they were. Both are excellent playing largely against type, particularly Pegg; brash and exaggerated with every twitch hinting at the troubled truth behind his over-the-top exterior.

Paddy Considine’s Steven Prince is essentially the leading man of a slightly different film that remains just out of focus, lurking in the background of the one we are watching. He is a clean cut decisive hero, Prince by name and in role, romancing the girl, leading the action and a noble foil for the rest of the cast. The other players are equally strong, with Martin Freeman absolutely hilarious as the gently smarmy estate agent and Eddie Marsan turning in a likably sweet performance that further underpins his growing stature in British cinema. Rosamund Pike is also excellent, her understated delivery ably capturing the conflicting fondness and pity she has for these characters, particularly Pegg’s Gary, and leading to a few of the films bigger laughs.

The third member of the Cornetto trio, director Edgar Wright, delivers with his typical kinetic visual flair, able to make the pouring of a pint as exciting as his well staged fight scenes. He also reels himself in when the film calls for it, never afraid to let a moment breathe for maximum impact. Although this is more a film that has funny moments than an actual comedy, he has not lost his touch when it comes to wringing laughs from a scene. Wright is a director with an understanding of how to make a pratfall funny that would make Harold Lloyd proud, while his cinematic version of a tumbleweed, as a bad joke rolls across the the unimpressed faces of Gary’s friends, is a thing of subtle beauty.

The real revelation of “The World’s End” is the writing. Wright and Pegg have crafted an incredibly intricate script, full of allusions and foreshadowing, from the names of the characters to the monikers of the pubs on the golden mile. The film has a distinct three act structure, broken up into clearly signposted segments for easy consumption, yet they never spoon-feed the audience. This is a film that will reward multiple viewings, enabling you to peel away the layers of the cinematic onion to see the depth that could easily be missed on the first viewing.

At it’s heart “The World’s End” is a film about growing up and what that means; going back to old places, old friendships and falling into old habits before realising why you don’t do those things any more. Gary’s journey, the 12 steps he takes to recovery, is very much the soul of the movie and when everything is finally stripped away it may seem like the end of the world, but it isn’t. Ok, it is, a bit.

With all this going on, alongside a subtle subplot about the homogenisation of modern townscapes and humanity in general, it would be easy to think this film could have too many ideas, but it never feels dense. The characters come first, everything else is just a side salad, always there but never force-fed, delicate little touches for you to imbibe at your leisure as our heroes neck pints and battle “blanks” at breakneck speed.

Some may have wanted “The World’s End” to be funnier, some may have wanted it to be more upbeat, but you have to appreciate it for what it is: tightly written, wonderfully performed, great to look at and a real meditation on what it really means to get older. It is also a cracking sci-fi romp that is, at times, genuinely funny. While some may miss the goofing around of some of Pegg and Frost’s other collaborations, this is a film with loftier ambitions, and, like an ice-cold pint on a hot summer’s evening, it really hits the mark.

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Traxx, a Vietnam war veteran working as a police officer, is fired from the force after an incident in a petshop, and becomes a mercenary working his way around South America. Tiring of the relentless violence he returns to the united states in the hope of setting up a successful cookie making business. However, with no real skills in the area of baking, he is soon forced to return to the career he left behind and puts himself up for hire as a “town tamer”.

“Traxx” is an action comedy from 1988 starring tv presenter and announcer Shadoe Stevens as the eponymous hero and is among the pantheon of the truly great “bad movies”.

The tone of the film is absolutely all over the place and you frequently feel as though every new scene is from a completely different movie to the previous one. The first 5 minutes alone feel like 3 completely different films; we flip gun fights to cheesy over the top comedy, from horrific imagery to pop video style dance montages, with absolutely no care for how they all fit together.

The cast generally play this all dead straight, and it is the star Shadoe Stevens who really nails the mood of this film. He plays the titular Traxx as a bizarre cross between a game show host and action star, stopping mid-battle to check out his hair and spewing incongruous one liners with smarmy commitment. He kills absolutely everyone who crosses his path, whether they deserve it or not, an unlikely killing machine engaging in slaughter with a wink and a smile.

“Traxx” is never scared of stretching a joke right to it’s breaking point or throwing the most outrageous imagery into a shot, (the bad guys literally strap a whole team of little leaguers to their car as human shields and that is far from the most bizarre visual in this movie). Director Jerome Gary mostly keeps things disarmingly deadpan and nothing is really played for laughs, which actually makes it funnier as it means ridiculous visual gags appear literally from nowhere, like cinematic non-sequiturs.

The humour itself is either so hokey and hackneyed that you can’t help but groan (“Deeter lost a litre”), or so heinously misjudged and in such bad taste as to leave you open mouthed with awe. If a million monkeys with a million typewriters given a million years would come up with the works of Shakespeare, then a gibbon with a crayon and a bag of weed could probably knock out the script of “Traxx” in a long weekend.

This is a film where the utter ineptitude and lack of care of those involved makes it far greater than the sum of it’s parts. It seems that everyone involved just shrugged their shoulders and said “why not” every step of the way. “Why not kill the main bad guy with a fart?”. “Why not have a creche in a brothel?”. That attitude makes this film unique, an over-the top treasure unafraid of throwing literally any idea, no matter how bad or stupid, at the screen.

“Traxx” really is a must watch film, preferably with a group of friends and a lot of alcohol. Absolutely demented, totally inept, and all the better for no-one involved having any clue what they were supposed to be doing. This truly is one of the great “bad movies”, a dazzlingly awful acid trip, a truly baffling film that gets everything wrong but feels so right. Anyone who takes any pleasure at all in trash cinema should immediately track this gloriously excessive misfire down.

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A French province is terrorised by attacks from an unknown beast, sending ripples of fear throughout the country. A sceptical Knight and his Native American companion arrive to investigate the strange happenings, but find themselves unprepared for the dark reality behind the fantastical stories.

Loosely based on a genuine folk legend, “Brotherhood of the Wolf” makes little attempt at historical accuracy. Primarily an action/adventure, with elements of horror, mystery, native american mysticism, primitive steampunk and even a healthy dose of completely anachronistic kung-fu, this is certainly a film with eclectic influences.

Director Christophe Gans works hard to achieve a slick stylised feel, loaded with slo-mo, swooping crane-shots and stylish zooms. The film is genuinely gorgeous, with Gans’ kinetic camera gliding through picturesque locations and magnificently appointed sets. At times the camera trickery is overdone or unnecessary, leading to a cheesy or comical feel. When a distant scream leads to a zoom in on a character’s reaction, followed by a slow motion walk to the window, it simply feels hokey, while a close up on a characters face as he is propelled backwards through a wall feels so unneeded that it takes you out of the moment completely. While it is admirable that Gans made so much effort to make every shot exceptional, at times it feels like he is simply trying too hard.

The camerawork is supplemented by quite a bit of CGI, most of which works fairly well. However, there are the occasional moments when it is poorly realised, a sword that extends into a bladed whip being a notable example, severely detracting from a battle scene that really should have been among the film’s highlights.

Much of the first hour is given over to developing the relationship between the Knight, Fronsac, and Marianne, the Count’s daughter, a romance that never quite clicks and wouldn’t be missed if it were excised from the film completely. Too much time is spent setting the scene and for a good portion of the film substance is secondary to a dawdling trundle through the lavish costumes, sets and scenery. However, it all really clicks into gear when the mystery of the beast begins to be unravelled and the last hour is a breath-taking thrill-ride of action set-pieces and unlikely plot twists.

The cast are generally solid, with Samuel Le Bihan finding a nice balance between likeable oafishness and nobility as Fronsac. It is a shame that Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci are not given more to do in supporting roles, although Cassel makes the most of his screen time with a nuanced, creepy turn while Bellucci is enigmatic yet alluring as a mysterious courtesan.

While it takes a while to get going, “Brotherhood of the Wolf” is an enjoyable period romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously. While over-stylised and too reliant on cliched plotting, you would have to be very hard of heart not to take at least some pleasure from it’s bizarre mish-mash of styles, especially when it finds it’s groove in a rip-roaring second half filled with highlights.