Set during the Alaskan gold rush of the late 1800's. In his efforts to gain control of a small mining town, Sean McLennon is buying up every mining claim that becomes available, usually ...
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Set during the Alaskan gold rush of the late 1800's. In his efforts to gain control of a small mining town, Sean McLennon is buying up every mining claim that becomes available, usually after the deaths of the previous owners at the hands of McLennon's 'assistants'. One of the miners targeted by McLennon, a half-Indian hunter named Hudson Saanteek, manages to escape his hired thugs and comes back into town looking to re-establish his claim and get revenge. McLennon and his men have the advantange of numbers and weapons, but Saanteek has his survival skills and knowledge of the Alaskan wilderness. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
In the beginning of the movie, Sean McClennon (James Caan's character) states that "non-citizens" have no right to claims. Alaska was not even a US territory at the time, so in fact, Sean McClennon had no right to any claims as well. See more »
"North Star" was released in 1996 but went unnoticed at the box office. It's a Western that takes place in Nome, Alaska, (but shot in Norway) during the Alaskan gold rush of the late 1800s. James Caan plays the love-to-hate villain who denies mining claims to foreigners and attempts to kill a half-breed Indian (Christopher Lambert) for the claim to a cave filled with gold, which the natives use in their ceremonies. The half-breed ends up abducting the villain's woman, played by the beautiful Catherine McCormack (who you might remember as Wallace's doomed wife at the beginning of "Braveheart").
As others have pointed out, there are elements of other Westerns here, like "Death Hunt," "Valdez is Coming," "The Far Country" and "Dances With Wolves (20th Anniversary Edition)," but that's to be expected and, besides, it's one of the few fully Winter Westerns that I can think of (of course, films like "Will Penny," "Jeremiah Johnson" and a few others have some fairly long Winter sequences).
While Caan's villainy is too over-the-top for my tastes (although he does it well), I found "North Star" to be a well-done Western up until the final 15 minutes or so. Like I mentioned above, it really dawned on me while viewing that this was the first Western I ever saw that focused exclusively on Winter conditions. The locations, sets and cast are all first-rate even while the story-telling has somewhat of a TV-movie vibe. But those last 15 minutes just throw the entire film off. It's like the filmmakers either rushed the ending to just complete the project or perhaps they weren't confident with the closing footage and awkwardly tried to "make it work" in the editing room. Either way, it shows.
Still, it's a worthwhile modern Western that attempts something unique even while being a pastiche of the genre.
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