|Last of the Dogmen|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tab Murphy|
|Produced by||Joel B. Michaels|
|Written by||Tab Murphy|
|Narrated by||Wilford Brimley|
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Edited by||Richard Halsey|
|Distributed by||Savoy Pictures
|Running time||118 minutes|
Last of the Dogmen is a 1995 Western adventure film written and directed by Tab Murphy and starring Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey. Set in the mountains of northwest Montana near the Idaho and Canadian borders, the film is about a bounty hunter who pursues escaped convicts into a remote region and encounters an unknown band of Dog Soldiers from a tribe of Cheyenne Indians. The film was shot on location in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
Distraught but skillful bounty hunter Lewis Gates (Tom Berenger) pursues three armed escaped convicts into Montana's Oxbow Quadrangle, followed by his faithful companion called Zip, an Australian cattle dog at the persistence of his unforgiving father-in-law, whom blames Gates for his daughter's tragic death. All Gates finds is a few scraps of cloth, some blood, and an old-fashioned Indian arrow. He takes the arrow to anthropologist Lillian Sloan (Barbara Hershey) who identifies it as a replica of the arrows used by Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. Gates doesn't think it's a replica and, after some library research, develops a long list of people who have disappeared into the Oxbow and a story of a "wild child" captured in the woods in the early 20th century. Now he's convinced that the fugitives were killed by a tribe of Dog Soldiers, a hardy band of native Americans who had somehow escaped the 1864 Sand Creek massacre and survived for 128 years secluded in the Montana Wilderness, killing anyone who threatened to find and expose them.
Gates convinces Sloan to join him in a search for the band. The two enter the Oxbow and begin to search. They survive many mishaps and bond throughout their journey, eventually reaching beyond the deepest Gates has ever ventured into the wilderness, around 50 miles in. Nearing the end of their supplies, Sloan suggests heading back. As the two are packing their gear, they are suddenly attacked by Cheyenne Indians. Sloan, speaking the Cheyenne language, deescalates the situation and the two are taken captive by Yellow Wolf (Steve Reevis). Taken to the Cheyenne encampment hidden behind a waterfall, the duo meet the village leader Spotted Elk (Eugene Blackbear), who tells them of the escape and salvation of the Cheyenne 128 years ago, as well as his own run-in with the "white people" when he was a child.
Gates and Sloan slowly become friendly with the Cheyenne. However, Yellow Wolf's son is sick, wounded after the gunfight with the convicts. Despite the elder's concerns, Sloan convinces Yellow Wolf to allow Gates to ride into town to obtain medicine. In town, after Gates robs the pharmacy, he is chased by local law enforcement, including Sheriff Deegan, his father-in-law (Kurtwood Smith). After escaping, Gates meets Yellow Wolf in the wilderness and they return to the Cheyenne camp. By this time, the Sheriff has gathered a posse and sets out to hunt down Gates not only for robbing the store but also to find his female companion whom the sheriff believes Gates has hiding in the Oxbow.
Gates and Sloan continue to grow closer to the Cheyenne, and Sloan discloses that they are indeed the last of their kind. However, Yellow Wolf shows Gates that the Sheriff is following his trail and is slowly getting closer to the encampment. Knowing that if discovered, the Cheyenne will fight and die, Gates proposes a solution; using some left over TNT the Cheyenne had taken from explorers many years earlier, he'll create a distraction and allow the Cheyenne to flee deeper inside the Oxbow and live in peace, far away from civilization. Sloan decides to stay with the Cheyenne. Gates reluctantly allows her to stay. The two share a passionate kiss and Gates begins to set up his plan. Gates gives himself up to the Sheriff, and pleads with him to leave the wilderness. However, the Sheriff discovers the hidden tunnel and prepares to enter it. Escaping, Gates attempts to light the TNT with a rifle, but the Sheriff stops him and threatens him with a gun to his head. Yellow Wolf appears, surprising the Sheriff, fires an arrow at the TNT setting it off. Gates and the Sheriff are propelled out of the tunnel into the waterfall. Gates saves the Sheriff, who is badly wounded. The Deputy tells everyone to clear out, and they are headed back to town to treat the wounded Sheriff and Gates. In his holding cell, the Sheriff confronts Gates about what he saw. Gates relents, and says there are some things that don't need an explanation and deserve to remain undiscovered, seeming to help sooth over Gates and the sheriffs relationship. Sloan and the Cheyenne are shown to have successfully escaped.
An undetermined time later, Gates has begun searching for the Cheyenne and Sloan. Using hints provided by Sloan, he is able to find them. The film ends with a passionate embrace between Sloan and Gates.
The American theatrical and home video releases of this film included narration by Wilford Brimley (in third-person), which is absent from the UK version. The DVD allows the viewer to choose. The Netflix streaming version (no longer available) has the narration told in first-person by the lead actors.
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