Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (2006) NR - 3 Stars

The movie is in Chinese with subtitles. Based on a true story, I was really into the "passion behind the cause" of this film. The landscape is magnificent and while I still do believe in the cause, the movie was somewhat monotone visually, in it's rugged terrain to lose my interest a bit. Perhaps the filmmaker intended it that way to show the devotion of these devoted men on mountain patrol.

In 1985 there were over 1 million Tibetan antelope roaming the wilderness mountainside of the largest animal reserve in China, Kekexili. By 1993, those numbers were down to 70,000. The animals were slaughtered for the woolen coats and their carcases strewn over the land for vultures to pick clean. In this harsh environment, a volunteer civilian patrol, put together led by Ri Tai (Duo Bujie), with their intent to bring the poachers to justice. This team of men endure dangerous conditions for the love of their land and it's the right thing to do, protect the antelope.

In 1996, Ga Yu (Zhang Lei), a journalist from Beijing, comes to interview Ri Tai and by telling him he may be able to help publish the plight of the antelope in order to gain more government funding. It's agreed Ri Tai and Ga Yun join the mission is to find the poachers responsible. Over a 17 day journey and traveling many miles over treacherous landscape in freezing temperatures, these merciless adversaries are relentless in their quest. The men encounter hardships along their way, and with their finances low, are forced to ilegally sell pelts themselves for needed money.

As the group dwindles in numbers as they forage up the mountainside, Ri Tai comes face to face with the man he has been seeking for years only to be killed by him before Ga Yu's eyes. It is Ga Yu who will bring Ri Tai's body down the mountain for a proper burial, while telling his story. The film is a National Geographic International Film and you can read more about the cause by going to their web site.

Independent Distribution Partnership (IDP), Samuel Goldwyn Films
Director: Lu Chuan
Writer: Lu Chuan
Producer: Wang Zhongjun
I viewed 11/08

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