On the box of the VHS version of this film (at least on the edition that I bought) is a subtle clue that this film is not only pretty far from the original James Fenimore Cooper novel but also that this film was meant to cash in on the popularity of the 1992 film of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Another subtle clue that this film is not everything it's supposed to be is the fact that this is a Hallmark film, which means that any violence and/or sexual content will be strictly PG.
Having gotten that out of the way, let me proceed to the other flaws of this film. As stated above, this direct-to-video tries to use some of the dramatic devices that made the 1992 LAST OF THE MOHICANS film so good, namely that in this version of THE PATHFINDER the title character (played by Kevin Dillon) is again the adopted son of Chingachgook (played stoically by Graham Greene). All dialogue in this film is in English, whether spoken by Native Americans, English or even French (and speaking of French, Stacy Keach is abhominably miscast as French General Comte du Leon with the worst make-up job I have ever seen even for a French caricature!) Kevin Dillon as the "Hawkeye" character (now known as "Pathfinder") tries to play him like a younger version of Daniel Day-Lewis and doesn't quite get it. Graham Greene, as stated before, is very stoic as the Last of the Mohicans (no mention is made in this film of his dead son Uncas, the events of LAST OF THE MOHICANS or even that Uncas ever existed), but one gets the feeling that the part might have been played even better if Russell Means (who just barely appears in the very minor and miswritten role of the Tuscarosan Indian Arrowhead) had been allowed to reprise his role as "Chingachgook" from the 1992 film. The villain of the story, the one-eyed Lieutenant Zale (played by Charles Charles Powell), shows his sliminess too soon and is too quickly recognized as the villain. The secondary "hero" of the story, Ensign Jasper Weston (Jaimz Woolvett) is likeable enough, but doesn't really arouse any sympathy from the viewer or dislike even though he is Pathfinder's romantic rival for the beautiful Mabel Dunham. Laurie Holden as Miss Dunham is pretty and more likeable than the Mabel of the book, but unfortunately her character pales besides Madeleine Stowe's 1992 "Cora Munro" (to be honest, any other heroine from a Cooper novel would!)
This film also (unfortunately) tells the story in the form of a flashback, with a grandmother and her grandchildren celebrating July 4th, 1800 and her telling the story to them as a bedtime story (I leave it to you, the reader, to guess the reason for this framing or the cliche that comes at the end of the film). This is not the first time that a J. F. Cooper adaptation film has used this device (another example is the 1977 TV version of LAST OF THE MOHICANS starring Steve Forrest of the TV series "S.W.A.T."-fame as "Hawkeye), and to be totally honest it works no better here. The direction by Donald Shebib and script by Tommy Lynch and Bruce Reisman are pretty lackluster and never totally engage the viewer.
All in all, if you want to complete your collection of films adapted from james Fenimore Cooper novels, this film will do ... at least until the BBC release their 1973 five-episode TV serial of HAWKEYE, THE PATHFINDER starring John Abineri as Chingachgook and Paul Massie as Pathfinder. After all, if the BBC could finally release their 1971 8-part version of LAST OF THE MOHICANS (the finest adaptation ever made and thought to be lost), anything is possible!