Directed by Christophe Gans, starring Samuel Le Bihan, Marc Dacascos, Emilie Dequenne, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci.

France 1766 and for the inhabitants of a small southern town the Age of Reason has been replaced by a reign of terror. 100 women and children have been murdered and the authorities are no closer to catching 'The Beast of Gévaudan' - not a man but an animal which, locals claim, is more monster than wolf. As stories of the beast grip the nation, Louis XV dispatches scientist come adventurer Grégoire de Fronsac (Le Bihan) and his Mohican blood brother Mani (Dacascos) to solve the murders.

But the deeper Grégoire and Mani probe the more complex the case becomes. Do the clergy know more than they're saying? Why is aristocrat Jean-Francois de Morangias (Cassel) so ambivalent towards the duo and is the harlot Sylvia (Bellucci) just a little too savvy and sophisticated for someone who earns their living from dusk til dawn? There's also the small matter of Marianne (Dequenne), Jean-Francois' virginal sister who fascinates Grégoire and then drives him into the arms of Sylvia. But as the body count rises and Paris becomes ever more desperate for a solution, Grégoire must put aside nocturnal folly and realise that the case is far bigger than Gévaudan; it goes right to the power base of French society.

Best described as a cross between 'Quills', 'Predator' and 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' is an adrenaline guzzling treat from start to finish. With a superb cast and a 'so ludicrous you just have to keep watching storyline' (although actually based on a true story!), director Christophe Gans has concocted a film which charges through genres, picking up ideas along the way before turning them into one of the most unusual French offerings in years.

For lovers of period drama, there's the sumptuous sets and repressed romance between Grégoire and Marianne, for gore freaks there's the over-the-top murders as the hills around Gévaudan run red, and for marital arts fans there's Dacascos' Mani, a character who really does give new meaning to the word sidekick.

At 140 minutes it could be argued that Gans spends a little too much time on backstory and drops the pacing in the second half of the film, but the whole thing is pulled off with such gung-ho aplomb and the camera work is so stunning that you'll forgive the troughs because you know another peak is just a few minutes away. Throw in an ending which would put most conspiracy thrillers to shame and you've got a film to keep even the fussiest punter happy - and one guaranteed to make you howl at the moon on your way out.

Harry Guerin