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Two Brothers (U)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director’s audio commentary. Call of The Wild (tiger roars set to music); Documentary on tigers; Special effects featurette; Tiger trainers featurette; Tiger brothers featurette; Tiger tech featurette. Tiger cam featurette; Location scouting featurette; Costume design featurette; Story boards. Baby tiger outtakes; Photo gallery.

AT THE end of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s compelling movie, Two Brothers, audiences are reminded that, ‘a century ago, there were over 100,000 tigers living in the wild; today, fewer than 5,00 remain’.

The film then stresses that it is ‘up to us, the tiger’s deadliest enemy, to ensure the survival of the greatest of the great cats, the last lord of the jungle’. It is a challenge viewers will want to embrace, once they emerge from the cinema.

Two Brothers tells the story of two tiger cubs - one shy and gentle, the other bold and fierce - who are born among the temple ruins of an exotic jungle, only to be separated by fate

The bold brother is sold off to a circus, where home-sickness and living in a cage rob him of his spirit, while the shy cub becomes the beloved companion for the governor of the region’s lonely young son, until an accident forces the family to give him away to a man who resolves to break his gentle nature and turn him into a fighter for sport.

When they are fully grown, events conspire to reunite the two tigers - but as forced enemies pitted against each other in a vicious fight to the death.

But the bond the two formed while growing up together in the jungle could yet save both of them...

It’s been over a decade since Annaud first enthralled audiences with his landmark movie, The Bear, yet he has lost none of his ability to work with animals in Two Brothers, a beguiling film, which provides the sort of entertainment the whole family can enjoy.

The director maintains that he has always regretted not making a film about ‘the splendid majesty of the tigers’, and leapt at the opportunity to make a film which combined his three greatest passions - namely, the tigers, his love for monasteries and temples, and his fascination with the European colonial period.

Hence, Two Brothers unfolds at a time when the pillaging of the ancient archaeological sites was rife, and finds Memento star, Guy Pearce, as a romantic adventurer whose life becomes inextricably linked to the fate of the two tigers, Kumal and Sangha.

It is he who first separates the cubs from their parents, before returning, months later, to further break-up the tiger family. And it is he, ironically, who could prove the duo with their greatest means of survival, due to the relationship he has formed with one of them, as they grew up.

Pearce, as ever, is excellent in the lead role, even if some of the human element of Annaud’s drama, occasionally feels a little too prone to obvious cliches.

But the film really comes into its own during its dealings with the tigers, who succeed in captivating audiences from the very first scene they appear.

The sequences involving the cubs at play in the wild are particularly involving, and won’t fail to melt the hardest heart, thereby providing a suitable platform from which to engage viewers, emotionally.

So while much of the human drama feels distinctly routine (and the human race comes off second best, yet again), the fate of the tigers is well worth rooting for, and the film succeeds in driving home its closing message without any real need for manipulation.

For this achievement alone, Annaud, who used a total of 30 tigers while filming (and who is also best-known for movies such as The Lover and Enemy at the Gates), deserves to be applauded, for he has truly captured what he set out to - ‘the splendid majesty of the tigers’ in their own, rightful, kingdom.

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