A young boy witnesses his parents' murder. Later, as he grows up, he befriends a bear in the wilderness and the chief of a local Indian tribe, and he stays with the Indians, but makes an ... See full summary »
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Enzo G. Castellari
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Lee Van Cleef,
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Enzo G. Castellari
A young boy witnesses his parents' murder. Later, as he grows up, he befriends a bear in the wilderness and the chief of a local Indian tribe, and he stays with the Indians, but makes an enemy of the chief's son. As he enters adulthood he sets out to find the men responsible for his parents' deaths. Written by
JONATHAN OF THE BEARS (Enzo G. Castellari, 1993) **1/2
Director Castellari reteams with star/co-producer Franco Nero in this Italo-Russian production which is a belated follow-up of sorts to their earlier, acclaimed collaboration KEOMA (1976). This newer venture shares with that earlier one not only its Western setting and a similarly grizzled, long-haired hero but also a touch of pretentiousness and a painful song score (composed by the unsympathetic minstrel figure who appears intermittently throughout)!
The film starts well enough with the black and white flashback to the hero's traumatic witnessing as a young boy of his parents' slaying by a trio of greedy badmen after their gold, while the segments featuring the boy's interaction with a playful bear cub are also quite amiable. However, we have seen the "white man among the Redskins" scenario albeit incongruously played here by Mongols which follows soon after (complete with their seemingly interminable quasi-mystical passages) far too often for those scenes to propose anything new. Equally predictable are David Hess' villainous overtaking of a town, Nero falling foul of Hess and his henchmen and their various confrontations; interestingly, Hess had to complete his part in a short space of time because he couldn't get along with Nero with whom he had previously acted in HITCH-HIKE (1977).
Things are enlivened by the late entrance of powerful entrepreneur John Saxon who, with his aged group of gunslingers, wipes the town clean of Hess and their unaccountably campy rivals a group of stud-sporting, leather-wearing, bare-chested musclemen!! Like Keoma before him, Franco Nero's character here occasionally steps outside of himself and is witness to his own past experiences as a child; also, he suffers greatly at the hands of the current villain including crucifixion. The climactic confrontation (staged, again as was KEOMA's, in a barnyard) is appropriately rousing and ends the film on a positive note which redeems some of its earlier flaws.
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