A Dutch crime drama concerning kickboxing doesn’t sound like my cup of tea and to be fair it isn’t but this was the closing film of the Raindance Film Festival so watch it I would.
Shot in black and white and set in The Netherlands, Wolf is about Majid a young man released from prison who struggles to keep his family and nefarious activities separate. He works at a flower warehouse by day but by night is involved in all manner of dodgy dealings along with his pack of friends.
Majid has a younger brother he looks out for, a brother dying in hospital, a timid and quiet mother and an angry and ashamed father. His father feels shamed by Majid’s brushes with the law and is not welcome at the family home.
In order to help pay for his brothers hospital bills Majid is put in touch with a kickboxing trainer called Ben who sets him up with a Turkish fight promoter. This “promoter” is the quiet and deadly style of crime lord who entices Majid with all the trinkets that this new influx of money can afford and this means Majid can give money to his family, although on explicit instructions that his father not find out.
From the get go Majid is shown to be the responsible one among his friends and he clearly loves his family but betrayal is always just around the corner and who can he really trust?
The comparisons to Raging Bull have already been made and there are rumblings about this film being anything but fresh. The unforgiving father, misogyny, racism and the street crime/organised crime dynamic are all present and while there is a realism to it and I understand the reasons behind the decisions within the film, they do come off as tired.
We’ve seen this before. The film also felt overly long but because it was long you got a real sense of character, location and who these people really were below the surface.
There are small pockets of comedy throughout the film and there are some touching moments between Majid and his younger brother who despite the warnings will doubt follow in his brother’s footsteps. Overall the film has a bleak and brutal atmosphere with an ending that packs a punch – pun intended.