A Scottish Western
Like many Scottish farmers Tam Ferrier (Bernard Hill - Shirley Valentine) is a proud, stubborn man who loves nothing more than tending to his sheep with his dog Jess. But times are changing in Creagmhor with a new Laird in the shape of businessman James Culzean (Doug Bradley) who has big plans for the estate, except Tam owns land slap bang in the middle of it and James needs that land. With Tam refusing to sell up despite suffering financial strife, James has his heavies try to force him off one way or another even if that means threatening his friend, Jean (Betsy Brantley - Dreams Lost, Dreams Found), who runs the village store.
"A developer tries to take over a Scottish shepherd's land" those were the few words written about "Shepherd on the Rock" on another movie website when I first watched it and my immediate thoughts with this movie being set in Scotland was that it was going to be a play on "Local Hero". But thankfully it wasn't and in the end "Shepherd on the Rock" is more of an update of an old western staple of the independent rancher holding out against a corrupt businessman and his heavies to keep hold of his land. It's not the best of updates with it having a general feeling of being a cheap production with some dodgy dialogue, dodgy acting and cheesy scenes but with Bernard Hill "Shepherd on the Rock" is still entertaining.
So as I said "Shepherd on the Rock" is not a great movie; the basic storyline is familiar, the camera work is ordinary, the image quality is not the best and the dialogue as well as some acting leaves a lot to be desired. But whilst all this goes against it "Shepherd on the Rock" still manages to entertain and much of that is down to that simple update of that classic western storyline. It is because we have the one good man standing up against an evil businessman makes it entertaining and transposing it to Scotland adds to the simple charm. As such it doesn't really matter that everything is cliche and predictable because when the good guy gets one over on the bad guy businessman it still makes you feel good.
There is also the fact that in Bernard Hill "Shepherd on the Rock" has an actor better than the actual writing whose simple portrayal of a traditional, stubborn shepherd is perfect. Hill is simply likeable be it when tending his flock, standing up to the corrupt Culzean or when being tentative and slightly awkward around Jean who he likes. Talking of which, Betsy Brantley is pleasant as Jean and is as likeable as Hill. Unfortunately it has to be said that Doug Bradley as James Culzean and Mark McKenna and Oliver Parker are some over the top bad guys who unfortunately end up more corny than bad.
What this all boils down to is that "Shepherd on the Rock" is one of those movies which lacks finesse and an original story idea but it has charm and so whilst there are some scenes which make you groan this simple tale of a shepherd standing up to a corrupt businessman is still entertaining.