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Film review: Shadow of the Wolf

Published: Wednesday, April 14 1993 12:00 a.m. MDT

With what has to be the most eclectic cast in recent memory, "Shadow of the Wolf" wants to be an Eskimo "Dances With Wolves." It's more like "Stumbling With Turkeys."

Lou Diamond Phillips stars as the rebellious son of a tribal chief (Japanese superstar Toshiro Mifune) who is tired of his father's acquiescing to the white man's ways. When Phillips is accused of murder, he decides to leave home — taking his chosen woman (Jennifer Tilly) with him, whether she likes it or not. In hot pursuit is the local police official, Donald Sutherland.

I told you this cast was eclectic.

Though obviously an expensive film, "Shadow of the Wolf" misfires in almost every way. The overplotted story is alternately a docudrama on Eskimo rituals, a thriller that has Phillips overcoming adversity, a reluctant love story and a fantasy with Phillips battling an evil white wolf (how's that for subtle metaphor?).

Worst of all, however, is Phillips' over-the-top performance. As the anchor to all these proceedings, his role was in sore need of being tempered so the audience would sympathize with his desire to overcome encroaching "civilization." But because he's always screaming, ranting and raving or just incredibly intense, the audience will more likely want to check his blood pressure.

Considering the potential here, this one is a major disappointment.

"Shadow of the Wolf" is rated PG-13 but is definitely in R-rated territory for the level of its violence, sex, nudity and profanity.

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