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EMPIRE OF THE WOLVES

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 128 minutes, previews

STUDIO: SPHE/ Gaumont

RELEASE DATE: 12-26-2005

Anna (Arly Jover) is losing her memory of her husband and she swears the man coming into the pastry shop where she works is someone she knows. She begins to think her husband has changed his face and she doesn't remember it, but the truth will really shake her up. Meanwhile, Captain Paul Nerteaux (Jocelyn Quivrin) brings retired detective "Shifty" Schiffer (Jean Reno) to help him to investigate the murders of three seamstresses (who are also Turkish illegals) in the Turkish part of Paris, France. When they stumble upon the fact it is the work of a Turkish terrorist group called The Gray Wolves, Schiffer tells Nerteaux to back off. Another thread in the story is a group of Anti-Terrorist cops who have brought in a Turkish illegal from a sweatshop raid three months ago.

Despite some really big logic leaps in the last half hour, EMPIRE OF THE WOLVES is a thriller made by the bastard lovechild of David Fincher and Michael Bay. The movie is based on a novel by the writer of THE CRIMSON RIVERS (which was also made into a great French thriller that spawned an equally entertaining sequel). Chris Nohan has to be commended for the good direction job, but the cinematography of Michel Abramowicz stands out whether it is displaying gritty realism, the oppressive rain, or the surreal look of some early scenes with Anna. EMIPRE OF THE WOLVES is a film that mainly focuses on two characters: Anna and Captain Nerteaux. Jean Reno plays an important supporting character who drops in and out of the story as does Mathilde, a shrink that Anna sees. The film has many characters to focus on. It is trying to be a cop thriller and a Hitchcock thriller at different times. You have to get used to the switching between the two interconnected stories because one will have you really interested before going to the other story. Back and forth it goes on like that before everything comes together. EMPIRE OF THE WOLVES does have several twists that will have you asking what surprise they have planned next.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Colors, shadows values, and image detail is grain. Film grain is present during dark scenes.

AUDIO: French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English

The sound mix and surround action is impressive. The English language dub is just plain bad. The voice actors are all wrong. They don't even try to get someone to even sound like Jean Reno. Even the dubbing doesn't sink up with the lip movements. The English language dubs for WASABI and CRIMSON RIVERS: ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE are far superior to this lousy dub. Watch the film in the original French language with English subtitles.

EXTRAS: Yep, another SPHE DVD that misses out on not including any of the extras from the three disc collector's edition available in France. That edition has an audio commentary (with Chris Nahon, Arly Jover and Michel Abramowicz) and featurettes (one on the writer of the novel, a Shooting featurette, and a look at the invisible special effects. I love it when SPHE includes extras for THE CRIMSON RIVERS movies, but a few extras here wouldn't have hurt at all. So no extras on the R1 except for previews of other SPHE titles.

PREVIEWS: THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, THE CAVE, USS POSEIDON: PHANTOM BELOW, 8MM2, RAMPAGE: THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER MURDERS, LA MENTALE- THE CODE, THE ESCAPIST

FINAL ANALYSIS: EMPIRE OF THE WOLVES is an entertaining thriller worth a rent despite the logic leaps in the last half hour. Please listen to the original French language track (with English subtitles) and avoid the bad English dub track.

this article is (c)1-11-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com