Why Le Pacte des loups understands all about pop culture (interview with Christophe Gans)

Prior to our major retrospective on his career and on the occasion of the film’s re-release in the long-restored 4K version, the wonderful Christophe Gans spoke to us about wolf pact.

First screened at the Cinéma de la plage during the Cannes Film Festival, Wolf Pact hits theaters this June 10th, in a new 4K version, overseen by Mr Gans himself from the original negatives. An event: this new copy is of high quality (thanks to the new calibration, the special effects still hold up against all odds) and the film remains cult.

At the time, Wolf Pact was the culmination of a successful French blockbusterwhich entered the box office with about 5 million receipts in France, and exported very well across the Atlantic.


Wolf Rage

So much so that it now enjoys an excellent reputation in the United States. With us, however, it is not unanimous. He was criticized for his excesses, his courage, his ambition and even his lack of historical thoroughness (yes, that’s stupid). Today, his references to all parts of Hong Kong cinema are better digested by the general public, while his visual and thematic generosity is still striking. We meet director Christophe Ganswhich immediately revealed to us how he incorporated his cinephilia into the project, as soon as he wrote it:

“When I launched Le Pacte des loups, I first received a script from Canal+ WRITE. Canal+ WRITE at the time was directed by a friend of mine named François Cognard, still a former Starfix. I received this absolutely amazing script, I remember having read that in one night. I thought it was brilliant. I’ve known the case of the Beast of Gévaudan well, for a long time because, when I was a kid, I was interested in legends, in Folklore, things like that.

So I was perfectly informed what it was and at the same time I saw in it the possibility of making a film about knights, which was heavily influenced by wu xia pian, films from Hong Kong and more specifically the Shaw Brother films and in particular The Rage of the Tiger which is actually the seminal film of The Wolf Pact.

Wolf Pact: photoCloak, sword and fire

The proof is the character Mani, played by Mark Dacascos, with whom Gans has toured Crying Freemanand added during the rewrite to embody this martial legacy.

“That’s also why in order to be able to do The Pact of the Wolves, I took one of the characters who, in the script, was a practically non-existent character, the Indian luggage carrier, and I made him the Mani character. , who became a Shaman Warrior like this… So influenced by my reading of Robert Howard, I told myself this would be my heroic fantasy character.

But through the character of Mani, actually the whole tradition of knight films and especially a knight is interpreted by a great actor from Hong Kong called Ti Lung. [comédien très célèbre pour ses rôles chez Chang Cheh, Chu Yuan et John Woo, ndlr] and that’s what I’m really trying to do.

She will be a beautiful knight who is sacrificed in the middle of the film and her friend will take her spirit to fight bad guys and so the one who fights bad guys in the end is a kind of symbiosis between the dead knight and his friend. It is really Chang Cheh for the letter, we will put it that way.”

Wolf Pact: photo, Mark DacascosIt’s not kidding

Berserk, Angelique and Shaw Brothers

Inevitably, when the audience, most of whom are new to Asian cinema, encounters the action scenes of the big screen and the swirling performances of Gans, they don’t necessarily feel this way. “pot au feu” cultural. The fight scene between Mani and the hunters, choreographed by the great Philip Kwok, both mocked and admired, became emblematic of this unprecedented mix of genres… and is now much more widely accepted.

Globalization requires that aesthetics and ideas from the four corners of the world come together, for the greatest pleasure of the audience. Wolf Pactlike Matrix in the United States, will he become a pioneer of contemporary pop culture? Possible.

Wolf Pact: photoMy feet, I put them where I want…

“When we analyze great Chinese chivalry films, the mechanics are always like this. Except that I brought them into French history, so at the time it was shocking to those who saw it. But at the same time, Pact of the Wolves was anticipating a crossover that is now practically mainstream. At the time, this film was considered by some as odd, but in fact it was just in front of an inevitable phenomenon, namely pop culture and pop culture globalization.

Especially through Japanese comics, for example, which borrow from everywhere and from everything. I take Japanese comic masterpieces like Berserk, I mean Berserk is a western story and a story completely immersed in the great myth of samurai and all that. Berserk is a very good example. Bersek is part of the same pot for me as Le Pacte des loups, of course.”

Wolf Pact: photoThat’s not how we wear masks

This film delves into as much about wu xia pian as it does from great western swashbuckling films or French works like Angelica, Marquise of Angelsseen by the filmmaker as “distant descendants” from wolf pact. In 2022, it’s impossible to consider it the most American of French films, solely because it benefits from a hefty budget and multiple action scenes. A very common point of view at the time.

“It’s an impactful film, obviously Asian and that’s why people at the exit said: ‘Yeah it’s an American film’. I said to them: ‘No, it’s not ‘not an American film’, it’s better to be kind of like that. a hybrid between Italian cinema, swashbuckling and definitely Asian cinema, but I never thought of it as an American film. That Americans would make a film like Pact of the Wolves. Besides, if The Pact of the Wolves had been so successful in the United States and fascinates a lot of people in the United States precisely because it’s something they don’t want to do, not because they don’t know how to do it, that they don’t want to do it.”

Wolf Pact: photo, milie DequennEmilie Dequene, not so Angelic

The pure object of pop culture is, therefore, humble and ambitious, who from the early 2000s anticipated the qualities of today’s mainstream cinema. More than 20 years later, it remains great entertainment:

“When you watch it today… The enjoyment we had and the lack of complexity we created allowed the film to run at the start, meaning to be watched by many different audiences around the world. But, also, I think that’s what allowed him today to hold on, hold on.”

Can’t say it better. And if Wolf Pact to amaze you, take a look at our huge file on the career of Christophe Gans, with which he has the honor of commenting on it.

Garfield Woolery

"Award-winning travel lover. Coffee specialist. Zombie guru. Twitter fan. Friendly social media nerd. Music fanatic."

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