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Young explorer Jack Conroy meets his father's buddy Alex Larson, a rugged guide who agrees to take Jack to his father's claim. When wolves attack and kill a female wolf, her pup is left to fend for itself. Jack and Alex reach a town where they plan to stay for the winter. A band of Indians, meanwhile, find the pup, and the chief names him White Fang. As Spring comes, Jack and Alex resume their quest, but stop off at the Indians' settlement. The chief explains that the wolfdog has been raised to obey, not be friendly, but Jack seeks to change that. Jack's chance comes when he is chased and trapped by a grizzly. White Fang intervenes, saving Jack's life. White Fang, however, is later trapped by an unsavory lot led by dogfighter Beauty Smith, who take the wolfdog from his Indian owner in exchange for alcohol. The gang train White Fang to be vicious in order to enter him into illegal dogfights. White Fang eventually meets his match in a brutal bulldog, but Jack happens upon the fight and intervenes in the nick of time. Having earlier reached his father's claim and begun the work of digging for gold, the boy returns with White Fang to the cabin where he seeks to transform White Fang's vicious and territorial nature.
Jack's attempts to tame White Fang eventually succeed; wolfdog and man develop a close and trusting bond. Alex helps Jack mine for gold and they strike it rich with the help of White Fang. Alex and his wife offer to take Jack back to San Francisco and Jack realizes that city life is no place for a wolf. He must let White Fang run free in the Wild. Though White Fang cannot understand why Jack is trying to push him away, Jack's efforts finally succeed in scaring White Fang off. However, Jack realizes that his rightful place is in the Yukon and he decides to stay behind alone and live off the land. After several weeks, White Fang returns to the cabin site where he and Jack are happily reunited.
- Ethan Hawke as Jack Conroy
- Klaus Maria Brandauer as Alex Larson
- Seymour Cassel as Skunker
- Susan Hogan as Belinda Casey
- James Remar as Beauty Smith
- Bill Moseley as Luke
- Clint Youngreen as Tinker
- Pius Savage as Grey Beaver
- Suzanne Kent as Heather