Inspired by a true story and the hit Japanese film NANKYOKU MONOGATARI, Frank Marshall's (ALIVE, CONGO) EIGHT BELOW captures a rugged world of ice, snow, and threatening weather that few will ever experience in person. As a guide for a National Science Foundation Research Base in Antarctica, Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) is perfectly content to spend his time exploring the wilderness with his sled dogs and goofing around with his best buddy, cartographer Charlie Cooper (Jason Biggs). Then UCLA geologist Davis McLaren (Bruce Greenwood) arrives at the camp with plans for a risky expedition: treacherous ice fields make his target destination accessible only by dog sled so late in the season. Soon Shepard, McLaren and the sled dogs--Maya, Max, Old Jack, Buck, Shorty, Dewey, Shadow, and Truman--are on their way in search of McLaren's prize: a meteorite from Mercury.
Unfortunately, an approaching storm forces Shepard and McLaren to return to base early. The return trip proves life-threatening, but the dogs pull through, saving both Shepard and McLaren from certain death. The storm also forces the scientists to leave the research center earlier than planned, and there's no room on board bush pilot Katie's (Moon Bloodgood) plane for the dogs. With the promise that someone will return for them immediately, Shepard leaves his beloved dogs behind. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that the weather has made a return trip impossible. Can the dogs survive in the Antarctic wilderness on their own, or will Shepard get back in time to save them? The dogs emerge as the most intriguing characters in the story, each exhibiting a distinct personality and fierce loyalty. The other major player is the wilderness itself, a beautiful, mysterious world that is rarely depicted on film.