Often overlooked, this is an excellent period adventure and one of Robert Aldrich's best latter-day efforts. Emperor of the North benefits from a smart Christopher Knopf script; it is packed with vivid details that bring its train yard setting to life and plenty of salty, convincing tough-guy dialogue. Aldrich brings the tricky, train-bound narrative life with a true craftsman's skill, deftly orchestrating the many complex set pieces involving trains so they offer maximum excitement. It's also worth noting that Aldrich's work is aided immensely by Joseph Biroc's richly detailed cinematography and the razor-sharp precision of Michael Luciano's editing. Finally, the film boasts three magnificent performances that really bring the tale to life; Lee Marvin is effortlessly convincing as macho man of the earth A No. 1, Keith Carradine is amusingly snotty as his reluctant pupil, Cigaret, and Ernest Borgnine is terrifying as the sadistic, single-minded Shack. It all adds up to a magnificent "guy's movie" that is well worth the time for anyone interested in Aldrich's work (and connoisseurs of macho cinema in general).