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Hannibal Rising


Stars: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Rhys Ifans, Dominic West, Kevin McKidd, Richard Brake

Director: Paul Webber

More of a revenge story than anything else, this prequel from the pen of Thomas Harris keeps the gore flowing, but provides little insight as to why Hannibal continued as a serial-killer cannibal after his vengeance was complete.

The action opens in Lecter castle, Lithuania (shades of Dracula), where wartime mercenaries (headed by Ifans), trapped by the onset of winter, batter a 10-year-old Hannibal (who has just been orphaned) and eat his little sister.

Eight years later, Hannibal (Ulliel, from A Very Long Engagement) is getting ticked off at the orphanage. 'You do not honour the human pecking order,' he's told. 'You're always hurting the bullies.' Escaping, he reaches France - with Prague standing in unconvincingly for Paris - and a distant aunt (Gong Li), who happens to be a mistress of oriental masks and mayhem.

After slicing up a butcher who insults her, Hannibal finds and dispatches, one by one (and in various gruesome ways) the men who ate his sister. Ulliel is (if nothing like Anthony Hopkins) a perfect grinning fiend, but his exploits never really engage you, and the movie remains little more than a catalogue of man's inhumanity to man.

David Quinlan

UK/Czech Republic/France/Italy 2006. UK Distributor: Momentum. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 03 Feb 2007