Now we know why Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter loves cheeks. Blame it on the Nazis! Traumatized by the death of his family, especially his little sister — who was devoured by starving soldiers — young Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) dedicates his life first to avenging those deaths and later to senseless killing, as depicted in the first three installments (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal) of this macabre franchise.
When the Nazis come marching through Lithuania during World War II, Lecter’s idyllic life is shattered. Surviving the brutal winter and murderous campaign, he relocates in Paris and, like a Nazi bounty hunter, systemically tracks down his sister’s sadistic killers. A medical student by day, Lecter has a lust for torture as well as blood; he wants to make his victims suffer.
Lecter’s glee tempers the revenge factor and lets you know he won’t stop with the Nazi sympathizers. After several splendidly choreographed murders, Lecter must rescue the fetching Lady Murasaki Shikibu (Li Gong). Their tame romance and the damsel-in-distress finale reduce this prequel to a tepid thriller. Still, Hannibal Rising is pretty tasty.