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Friday Film Review : Le Pacte des Loups

Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) (2001)
Genre: such a mixed bag
Grade: B-

Eighteenth century conspiracy theorists would have had a field day with this movie and the real events that inspired it. As it is, twenty-first century film goers can watch it then wonder, “What on earth did I just see?” It’s a monster film! It’s a historical! It’s a romance! It’s a bromance! It’s even a martial arts film! That’s right, it’s damn near everything!

It’s during the Reign of Terror. As peasants scream for an aristo’s blood, he ponders events which occurred many years ago. Determined that the truth should be known, he begins to write….

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We start with an opening scene that could be called “Jaws on land.” A terrified French peasant girl flees – something – which grabs her and flings her back and forth before killing her. Then two muffled riders find a father and daughter (?) being attacked by more peasants. (The peasants in this film will give you the creeps.) Martial arts fight ensues. The riders ride on and we discover they are Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and Mani (Mark Dacascos), his faithful Mohawk companion/blood brother. Fronsac, a naturalist, has been sent by the King to the province of Gevaudan to investigate the mysterious killings which have terrorized the land for over a year. No one knows what the beast is but it’s evaded the soldiers sent to kill it and Something Must Be Done.

Fronsac and Mani shack up with some decadent aristos and wow them with stories of America. Fronsac flirts with the daughter of the house (Émilie Dequenne) while Mani makes Deep Pronouncements. He’s a Noble Savage, you know. Talks to trees. Does cool martial arts fighting. Communes with nature. A beautiful hunt scene follows which actually does…nothing. The beast kills again. Fronsac flirts more then visits a high class brothel which has a madame (the beautiful Monica Bellucci) who’s into weird shit.

More killing despite the hunt which wiped out most of the area wolves. The King sends his top man who kills a wolf and leans on Fronsac to stuff it and make it look good. Political pressure is applied and Fronsac caves in. But he knows the real beast is still out there. When it kills again, he yields to the entreaties of the young aristo ( Jérémie Renier) he’s befriended and goes back with Mani. More hunting, more martial arts, and we begin to get an inkling of what’s really happening. Well, as much as you can in this film.

Mani is killed. Fronsac mourns then buries him in grand style, vowing revenge. Bizarre nastiness occurs between Fronsac’s wannabe aristo girlfriend and her brother (Vincent Cassel). All of a sudden we’re getting Voice Overs telling us what’s going on – which is good because at this point I totally lose track of the plot. I mean it gets really strange from here on. But I do know…the beast is killed, we’re given some half ass excuse as to what happened and why it was occurring and Fronsac sails off with his lady love – as written down by the aristo who is thoughtfully allowed the night before his execution to pen all this. Yeah, right…

So, why watch this movie? It’s gorgeously filmed. The colors of the aristos’ clothing just jump out and grab you by the throat. The misty landscape is beautiful and director Christophe Gans shows it to best advantage. The martial arts scenes are lovingly shot in real time and slo-mo. The costumes are great, the interiors are fantastic, the music is fine, there’s pageantry all over the place and it’s got a plethora of hunky actors to drool over. There’s also an interesting plot angle of the entrenched aristocrats vs the new Age of Reason sweeping the world if you want to get intellectual. What’s not to love?

Okay, so if you want your movies to actually make sense this one will give you fits. But I’m enjoying the visual feast so much that by the time everything goes to hell in a handcart, I don’t care. The strong cast of actors actually do a pretty good job with what they’re given and I’m still believing in what they’re presenting even as a tiny part of my mind is asking, “WTF?” But I get the idea it’s supposed to be totally over the top so I can’t complain when it is. One reviewer at IMDB calls it “Merchant Ivory takes up kickboxing.” Others label it an amazing genre film. It’s definitely one of a kind – at least so far.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

45 Comments

  1. Maria Zannini
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 05:21:12

    You are right on all points, but plot wise this movie was a mess. I don’t think they knew what kind of film they were making.

    The worst part is when we discover what the beast actually is. Stupid!

    I suspended disbelief for that? It made me want to throw the disc away.

    The cinematography was stunning though. If you are looking for something with great historical texture, this was it.

    If you’re looking for a logical plot–skip it.

  2. Mina Kelly
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 05:45:09

    I found watching this dubbed made slightly more sense than subbed – the dub gives you a bit more information about what’s going on and why it’s going on, I found. I suspect some of the gaps come from the assumption the viewer has an insider knowledge of French history and culture.

    It’s just very, very French, really. It’s very slow, very beautiful, and expects the viewer to make some great leaps on intuition to work out what’s going on (and not necessarily logical leaps, either). I love French cinema, but you really have to be in the right mood for it. And prefarably in possession of a good bottle of French wine.

  3. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 05:50:41

    For me the core attraction was the chemistry between Fronsac and Mani. In my eyes, they were totally doing it.

  4. Tiffany Clare
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 05:51:51

    I love this movie, probably for all the reasons you point out. Yes it had a few plot holes (okay, a lot) and some stuff wasn’t really explained well… but it’s so visually stunning you just don’t care after a while.
    I think the movie just wasn’t long enough to explain all the underground stuff going on. Or maybe it was the execution of all those aristo dark deeds. Not sure. Either way, I could watch this movie over and over for the beauty of it alone.

  5. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:11:39

    @Maria Zannini: I see the Beast in this movie as another poke at the decadent French aristos who felt they could control everything and everyone around them. Even to the point of creating something like this and letting it loose on the people around them merely to further their own aims.

    But, yeah, the first time I watched the film, I was very disappointed when All Was Revealed.

    I love your description of the film having “great historical texture.”

  6. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:15:28

    @Mina Kelly:

    I love French cinema, but you really have to be in the right mood for it. And prefarably in possession of a good bottle of French wine.

    I totally agree. I think I watched the dubbed version the second time I saw the film (it’s very well done, IMO) and did understand more. Or maybe that’s just because it was my second go around with the film. Anyway, next time I watch it, I’ll be packing a glass or two of my favorite vino. That should help with the logic!

  7. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:16:27

    @Aleksandr Voinov: Oh, hell yes. I think so too.

  8. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:24:00

    @Jayne: I admit to being totally shallow in that regard. Once I realized that the film didn’t make much sense and especially no “historical sense”, I decided to lean back and just enjoy the ride. And that was, for me, the relationship between the two guys. And my mind came up with very nice m/m/f scenarios involving Monica Bellucci. So, my blissful smile had little to do with the plot (or the acting… Cassell is many things, but an actor he is not).

    Then again, I admit to a great love for “Red Scorpion”. Who cares about the plot, Dolph Lundgren gets tortured very beautifully and strips off a lot. Honestly, I’ve spent my time worse than looking at pretty people. :)

  9. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:26:43

    @Tiffany Clare:

    I think the movie just wasn't long enough to explain all the underground stuff going on. Or maybe it was the execution of all those aristo dark deeds. Not sure. Either way, I could watch this movie over and over for the beauty of it alone.

    I think you’ve got something there. Had the film been made in America, I think we would have seen some more background info on the political situation to help us connect all the dots. And the lack of this ties into what Mina said.

    As it is, I can sit back and take in the beauty of the whole and think, “God, he’s gorgeous!” Yes, I’m shallow that way.

  10. S. W. Vaughn
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:40:03

    You know, I never actually thought much about the horrendous mess of a plot this movie offers until I read your review. You’re right! It makes No Sense!

    That is somehow liberating, because I loved this movie, yet I had this lingering feeling that I shouldn’t. Couldn’t put my finger on why. Now I can.

    Of course, it probably helps that I absolutely adore Mark Dacascos. Especially in Crying Freeman (which, if you haven’t seen, I totally recommend. It’s a love story and a whole lot more…).

    Thank you for liberating my confusion! :-)

  11. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:41:14

    @Aleksandr Voinov:

    And that was, for me, the relationship between the two guys. And my mind came up with very nice m/m/f scenarios involving Monica Bellucci. So, my blissful smile had little to do with the plot (or the acting… Cassell is many things, but an actor he is not).

    Ooh, that’s a hot image that comes to mind. Thanks for that.

    Cassel can act but I think he keeps picking OTT films lately. I liked him in “Cafe au lait,” (in admittedly a bit part) as well as “La Haine.” I adore “The Crimson Rivers.” At least until it jumps the tracks at the end, but up til then, he and Jean Reno are fun to watch playing off each other.

  12. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 07:47:51

    @Jayne: I’m happy to share my Monica Bellucci sandwich with you. There’s enough for all of us. *G*

    Oh! Crimson Rivers. That film rocked me hard. I take everything back and stand corrected. (But Jean Reno may be the much bigger crush here)

  13. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 08:42:52

    @S. W. Vaughn: LOL, me too. The first time I watched it I enjoyed it yet I felt slightly dirty for doing so. I’d think about buying a copy then remember that the plot makes no sense, yet I couldn’t get the film out of my head. Finally I just broke down and bought the damn thing. It’s a guilty pleasure for sure.

  14. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 08:46:22

    @Aleksandr Voinov: I love Jean Reno too. Even if sometimes I don’t love the movie as a whole, if he’s in it, I’ll watch it. I might have to buy myself a copy of “The Crimson Rivers” just for the heck of it. Another beautifully shot film which is a pleasure to watch even if the ending goes off the rails in a Hollywood OTT style.

  15. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 08:48:48

    I have fond connections there, too. I write with both scores/soundtracks from Crimson Rivers and Pacte the Loup. Try it. Both are full of images.

    And isn’t “Leon” the best film ever? I love Jean Reno for the sheer humanity and charisma. Nothing like him to contrast the ready-made shallow beauty of Hollywood-style leading men.

  16. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:04:18

    @Aleksandr Voinov: Yes, it’s great. And I never thought I’d say that about a film which features a hit man. I just wish that Gary Oldman wasn’t in it. I loathe his acting. He usually ends up chewing on the scenery and foaming at the mouth. Blech.

  17. Lusty Reader
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:06:02

    oh my gosh, i rarely meet anyone else stateside who has seen this before! when i studied abroad in france i watched it with my whoooole host family (including younger brother and sister), they loved it but i was mortified by the more racy scenes. in fact i think it was unedited on national french television!

  18. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:06:27

    @Jayne: Gary Oldman killed himself ded in my mind with “Dracula”. What nonsense, I take Christopher Lee any time.

  19. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:26:17

    @Lusty Reader: Did the movie make sense to your host family? I admit that the American Prude in me would be a bit mortified to watch parts of it with anyone under the age of 15. From what was said on the director’s commentary, there were supposed to be further scenes in the brothel which were either cut or never filmed.

  20. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:28:42

    @Aleksandr Voinov: Okay, now I will take back a teensy bit of what I said about Oldman since I did like him in “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.” But it’s the only movie of his that I like.

  21. Aleksandr Voinov
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 09:34:48

    @Jayne: Ha! Just my luck, I seem to only watch the crappy films, but I’ll put that one on my list. And I might grab “Pacte” again for some nonsense fun after I’ve forced myself to finally watch “Schindler’s List”. The stuff research makes me do… That’s a film I won’t watch with Indian take-out curry on my lap.

    And see how I managed to get back on topic?

  22. Heather
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 10:07:14

    @S. W. Vaughn: You just made my day! I picked up Crying Freeman (the graphic novel/manga) in college and adored it. I had no idea it was a movie. I’m off to search for it now. Woohoo!

  23. Monica Burns
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 10:26:47

    Call me warped, but I didn’t have any trouble following this movie, and I absolutely loved it. I think the reason I loved it plot wise (or lack thereof) is because it was simply a group of events tacked on to each other and how they transpired. Sort of like every day life, where one never knows what’s going to happen next. I didn’t need a plot, because I got to make it up in my own mind as to why this or that character did something.

    I think the same can be said for another movie I watched recently. Shogun’s Assassin. Little to no plot, and yet I couldn’t stop watching, even in spite of the blood spurting all over the place from all the killing, and the badly done voice overs. The martial arts weren’t as fluid as in Brotherhood, but I kept wondering how in the hell the Shogun’s Assassin didn’t slice his fingers off every time he put his katani (think that’s the name) back in its sheath.

    Brotherhood was definitely a beautifully filmed movie, and I loved the beast. Felt sorry for the animal when it was killed.

  24. Jayne
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 10:59:12

    @Monica Burns: I felt sorry for it too. It had been created and trained to do what it did – then killed for that very reason.

    Anywho…I like your idea of random events strung together to make the film.

  25. S. W. Vaughn
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 12:08:36

    @Heather: Yay! I hope you find it – it’s such a great movie! And Mark Dacascos is absolutely delicious in it. :)

  26. Patricia Briggs
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 12:47:11

    Love this show. Great acting, beautiful photography, costumes . . . and men. I think understanding that the big question about the Beast of Gevaudan (this is based on a real incident)is “what the heck was it?” it helps. I like to watch it without the subtitles. No. I don’t speak French, but in this movie it doesn’t really matter. There isn’t really a plot so much as a Big Answer to The Question. I loved the take on Native Americans as super martial artists. Fun stuff.

  27. SerpentJ
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 13:44:02

    I actually saw this movie in the theater (where they had posted a sign that said “This movie is subtitled; there will be no refunds”), because a friend of mine is a big werewolf fan and knew the French history.

    So, the theater was filled with a bunch of teenage boys who were there for the martial arts aspects and the two of us (older women rather amused by the Fronsac / Mani subtext). Really, you mostly had to be amused by the entire film – I mean what point did the stuff between the girlfriend and her brother serve?

    OTH – unlike many other movies I still remember large parts of this one. :)

  28. Lusty Reader
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 14:29:52

    @Jayne: my host family had seen it before (this was in 2003) and they called it one of their “favorites.” they seemed to get it just fine, maybe through mulitple viewings and just their cultural perspective.

    my host brother gave me the nickname “La Puritaine” because he thought i was such an american prude. little did he know about my lusty reading habits ;)

  29. SandyW
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 15:01:26

    My husband and I watched this movie a few years ago. There were times that the two of us together couldn't keep up with the plot. But what a gorgeous movie.
    Plus it made me look up the actual Beast of Gévaudan, which was fascinating.

    Off to check Netflix.

  30. Janine
    Feb 26, 2010 @ 16:03:42

    It’s been ages since I saw this (in the theater when it was first released here in the U.S., with subtitles — I can’t stand dubbing!) and I remember thinking that it was maybe a C+ for me. I do agree it looked gorgeous, esp. on the big screen, but that wasn’t quite enough for me.

  31. Hydecat
    Feb 27, 2010 @ 07:42:20

    Wow. There’s a movie I vaguely remember seeing part of once upon a time about aristocrats and some kind of monster, and I think this might be it. It’s ringing bells, but I can’t remember (or didn’t see) enough of it to know for sure. I do remember thinking that I wanted to see that movie again because it was so pretty. I guess I’ll have to put this on my Netflix list.

  32. Jennifer Armintrout
    Feb 27, 2010 @ 16:40:12

    I love this movie, but you’re right, it makes no sense.

    My love has dimmed a bit since Mani became the Chairman’s nephew on Iron Chef America. The last time I watched Loups, I kept expecting Mani to shout, “Allez-cuisine!”

  33. Estelle
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 06:02:27

    I wonder if you’ve seen the theatrical cut or the 145mins Director’s cut? There’s much more information about what’s going on in the Director’s cut.

    I’ve only watched the french version but it’s good to hear that the dubbed version wasn’t too horrible. I’m always so very thankful that I can speak and read english so that I won’t have to suffer through horrible french translations. Some ok movies become awful movies very easily with a bad dub.

    For those who would like an idea of what the movie looks like (cinematography, costumes, scenery etc….) I made 2 music videos about it a few years ago.

    ETA: this one has many spoilers in it.

    One is a character study of Jean François de Morangias, Marianne’s brother and my favorite character:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mJt2L2tuF8

    And one is a shippy Marianne/Fronsac video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHIOMCG6bE

    It does say on my account that the videos aren’t watcheable in certain countries but I think it would be fine in the US.

    Le Pacte des Loups was kind of a phenomenon when it came out in France. It made historical movies accessible to the population at large. But the director acknowledges himself in the commentary that the movie is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s intentional and he admits it cheerfully. He never intended to make a serious historical movie. He explains all the influences and hommages and it’s very interesting. For the brothel scenes for exemple, he wanted to pay homage to an erotic movie I can’t remember the name of.

    What remains is a gorgeously shot movie with pretty people running around in the French countryside. There is some plot too, albeit a convoluted one!

  34. Estelle
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 06:17:23

    Sorry for the double post but my computer won’t let me edit my comment above.

    I forgot to mention that there are SPOILERS in the first video I posted. If you don’t want to be spoiled watch the Fronsac/Marianne romance video instead.

  35. Jayne
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 06:32:01

    @Estelle: I’m not sure which version I watched when I got it from Netflix but the version I bought is listed as the “Director’s Cut – All-New 2-Disc Director’s Cut- Loaded with 4 Hours of In-Depth Bonus Features.” It’s supposed to have 40 minutes of additional footage which was deleted from the film, info about how they created the movie, an on location piece, about the legend of the real Beast, and storyboards. The film is listed as being 2 hrs and 31 minutes long.

  36. Jayne
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 06:41:43

    @Estelle: Those are nicely done videos but I agree the one about Jean François de Morangias is one long spoiler.

  37. Estelle
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 07:27:38

    @Jayne:

    Then that’s the D-Cut I’m talking about. There should also be a bunch of deleted scenes that didn’t get included in the D-Cut (I used one of them for my Marianne/Fronsac video, the part where they’re skating on the frozen pond) in the Bonuses.

    I have a soft spot for this movie for many reasons but mostly because one of the scenes was shot at a castle that I used to visit when I was a child. It’s very close to where I used to live.

    As accessible as the director tried to make the movie it does make certain assumptions however. La Bête du Gévaudan is a very famous legend here in France and everyone knows about it. Many French people also know the social and political background behind the story by heart so it’s not difficult for us to follow what’s happening and to see how the director played with History .

    For exemple, I don’t know if it was made clear (I haven’t watched the movie in a while), but when the old Jeremy goes down to face his executioners at the end of the movie (at least we are lead to assume he would die), it’s smack down in the middle of the French Revolution that started in 1789 and during which thousands of aristocrats literally lost their heads.

    Jeremy probably saw this coming and was writing his memoirs in his castle while waiting for the storm to reach him. His meeting with Fronsac was a turning point for him and that’s why he chose to narrate their story in details.

    The depraved world of the French aristocracy we saw in all its (provincial) splendor in the movie no longer exists at this point.

    Anyway, all this made me want to watch the movie again. It’s not often that we get a French super production when it comes to historical movies and it’s very hard to come across one so beautifully filmed.

    On another completely unrelated note (but the beautiful cinematography of Le Pacte des Loups made me think of something I’m currectly watching)….would you consider doing an article on Korean dramas by any chance? It’s one untapped corner when it comes to romance fans because it’s not very well know yet.

    But it deserves to be. Korean dramas are basically romance novels brought to the screen, only with usually 16 to 24 episodes of one hour each to develop their characters.

    I think some of your readers might be very interested.

  38. Jayne
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 11:19:56

    @Estelle: The opening and closing shots of the movie do make it fairly clear that Jeremy was writing from older age and recalling these events from his youth. Also that the peasants were coming to get him.

    I agree that the cinematography in the movie is fantastic and think that your videos show this well.

    would you consider doing an article on Korean dramas by any chance? It's one untapped corner when it comes to romance fans because it's not very well know yet.

    But it deserves to be. Korean dramas are basically romance novels brought to the screen, only with usually 16 to 24 episodes of one hour each to develop their characters.

    I think some of your readers might be very interested.

    Are these available from Netflix? They do sound interesting but I have to be able to get my hands on them before being able to review one. Or would you like to do a review, yourself perhaps?

  39. Estelle
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 11:47:16

    @Jayne:

    Hmm, I do not know if they are available from Netflix (most of them won’t be in any case). It’s starting to change now but the vast majorities of dramas are unlicensed and can be legally watched on the internet, even downloaded.

    Since you live in the US, you’ll be able to access all the videos on Viikii.net and watch the dramas legally for free there. They have an agreement with the Korean broadcasting companies. As for Japanese dramas, they are all unlicensed as far as I can tell and it’s basically a free for all.

    For my part, I download the unlicensed ones and buy the ones that are licensed and available with english subtitles.

    The talk about the cinematography of Le Pacte des Loups above reminded me of the KDrama I’m currently watching. It’s called Chuno / Slave Hunters and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve even watched. Not to mention that the romance is heartbreaking. The acting is really powerful too. And you’ve got some nice eye-candy as well. As with most dramas though, I always recommend to watch at least the first four episodes because otherwise you might not get a good idea of how the story will play out. First episodes usually aren’t the best as there’s a lot of exposition etc…

    I would recommend you watch Chuno first if you’re interested in trying Asian Dramas. It’s the best the genre has to offer. But it’s an historical drama that takes place in the 17th century and I don’t think it will have an happy ending. Episode 16 aired this week and there are 8 more episodes to go (2 per week) so I don’t know yet what will happen but I trust the director. He hasn’t let me down so far and the show gets more amazing with each episode.

    But it might not be your cup of tea. I did a lengthy post on one of the All About Romance message boards a few weeks ago with a few more recommendations if you’d like to try a different genre. There’s really a bit of everything and with links to videos.
    http://www.likesbooks.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=6689

    Chuno is really the one I’d recommend to watch first though if you think you might like it. It’s available in HQ streaming with subtitles on Viikii.net .

    As for writing a review, I would love to but I don’t think I would have the time to do an in-depth one unfortunately.

  40. Estelle
    Feb 28, 2010 @ 11:51:30

    Darn, I still can’t edit. Don’t know what’s wrong.

    I’ve just realized there’s a broken link to one of the Chuno videos in the AAR post I gave the link to above so I’m giving you the correct link here:

  41. Maili
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 02:43:24

    @Estelle: I have mixed feelings about Korean drama. They tend to be melodrama with dollops of romance, comedy and tragedy, aren’t they?
    Almost always, someone dies – usually of a terminal illness – or suffer from a tragedy (like ‘Stairway to Heaven’). And not all live to see the HEA (‘The Snow Queen’, for instance). Some dragged for too long, with too many silly twists and turns, like ‘Goong’ (aka ‘Princess Hours’) and ‘Temptation of Wolves’ (aka ‘A Romance of Our Own’). All these are extremely popular, though.

    Korean romantic drama is similar to Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese romantic romance in many aspects. I prefer Japanese drama because tragedy is less likely! Taiwanese drama is either romantic comedy like Japanese drama, or tragic romance like Chinese drama. Filipino/Pinoy drama is more similar to American and Mexican soap opera, plus it’s usually in spoken English language. Sorry, I’m digressing.

    I liked ‘My Name is Kim Sam-soon’ (aka My Lovely Sam-soon). Heroine Kim Sam-soon (Kim Sun Ah) is truly likeable, even when she was at her worst. Hyun Bin? Yum. In short: Sam-soon is nearly 30, plump and a loser in love, but she’s gutsy and has a passion to become a great dessert maker. Her new employer, whom she met under unusual circumstances, is an owner of an up-and-coming restaurant (and he’s a downright hunk, too). They don’t get on, but as all good romances go, they eventually fall in love. (No one dies, thankfully.)

    I also enjoyed ‘Attic Cat’ and ‘Story of A Bright Girl’s Success’. I haven’t finished ‘Full House’ as I stopped years ago, but it was fun, so far.

    Like I said, I have mixed feelings about Korean drama – there are some elements that drive me nuts. Why there is always a serious illness, terminal illness or death? I do realise it’s what makes romance more romantic to some, but as a painfully traditional western romance reader, I don’t like it.

    Then again, most Korean drama heroines are strikingly similar to heroines of western romances: self-sacrificing, noble, virginal, and sometimes refreshingly headstrong and independent. I think this would appeal to many western romance readers.

    Sorry for going off topic.

  42. Maili
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 03:09:00

    @Estelle:

    As for Japanese dramas, they are all unlicensed as far as I can tell and it's basically a free for all.

    Yes, illegally. All Japanese broadcasting companies – especially TBS – are trying to shut down those sites that ignore their C&D requests and continue streaming Japanese drama and TV films.
    Unlike the US and UK (I don’t know Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese industries), lead cast actors and crew (director, writer, producers, etc) in Japanese television industry get paid each time drama is broadcast on TV and official web sites. They don’t receive an one-off payment like those in the US and UK do. They’re paid a percentage to start with, and then they’ll be paid a certain percentage of revenues for the rest of their lives (or according to terms of their contracts). When a drama is illegally streamed that allows domestic and overseas markets to access (which lessens the point of buying DVDs), those actors and crew are literally losing part of their living-hoods.
    With this in mind, Japan has more to lose than other countries. (This applies to scanlations of comics/manga as well. I feel so sorry for comic artists and authors because English scanlation groups and raw comic distributors are truly damaging their livinghood.)

    Anyroad, this is why I feel it’s not a good idea to encourage people to watch unlicensed Japanese drama and TV films online while Japan struggles to save their television industry from going bankrupt, due to rampant piracy, English subtitles groups, and unofficial video streaming sites.

  43. Estelle
    Mar 01, 2010 @ 09:32:53

    @Maili:

    I didn’t know about the Jdramas. I don’t really watch them so I was just going by what a friend told me. But I do know that they are not at all available in France for exemple. If you want to watch a drama, well, you can’t. I don’t know how they will struggle out of this if they’re in such a bind. There are no dvds to speak of that you can buy when you don’t speak Japanese. I don’t know how they expect us to help them so to speak in that case? If they were interested in broadcasting their dramas outside of Asia, wouldn’t they produce dvds with English subtitles? That’s what AE Entertainment is doing for Kdramas in the US for exemple. They release the dramas with English subtitles. And KBS’ most popular dramas are available on KBS world with English subtitles. I don’t see Japan doing any of that. Koreans have the right idea IMO.

    Have you heard of Viikii.net? It’s a 100% legal way to watch subbed dramas on the web because the owners of the site are working with the broadcasting companies and have the right to stream. The only catch is that you have to live in the US to be able to watch them.

    have mixed feelings about Korean drama. They tend to be melodrama with dollops of romance, comedy and tragedy, aren't they?
    Almost always, someone dies – usually of a terminal illness – or suffer from a tragedy (like ‘Stairway to Heaven'). And not all live to see the HEA (‘The Snow Queen', for instance). Some dragged for too long, with too many silly twists and turns, like ‘Goong' (aka ‘Princess Hours') and ‘Temptation of Wolves' (aka ‘A Romance of Our Own'). All these are extremely popular, though.

    lol, you’ve been watching some of the most clichéd Kdramas out there, I see. I agree with what you said when it comes to those dramas in particular. Although I do admit I have a fondness for Goong even with all its clichés and contrieved storylines.

    But there are tons of drams that aren’t like that, luckily!

    I try to stay away from melodramas as a general rule. I’m not fan of the terminal illness thing.

  44. Faye
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 13:46:27

    As Estelle mentioned, this film was (loosely) based on the real-life, mysterious Bête du Gévaudan. I saw an interesting show on one of those Discovery channels this winter where these two forensic guys go try to figure out what actually happened and what the Bete was. They concluded that it was a hyena, brought back from Africa by the local aristo (Cassel’s character, I believe) and yes, possibly related to a church conspiracy.

  45. Jayne
    Mar 03, 2010 @ 09:28:55

    @Faye: A lot of information from this History Channel program looks like it’s been incorporated into the Wikipedia entry for the Bête du Gévaudan. I also discovered that there’s another movie which has been made on the subject which, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be available from Netflix now.

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