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Mongolian Ping Pong
Mongolian Ping Pong
Actors: Hurichabilike, Geliban, Badema, Yidexinnaribu, Dawa (II)
Director: Hao Ning
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Kids & Family, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2006     1hr 42min

A ping pong ball, found floating in a stream, becomes the source of wonderment for three young boys who live in the remote grasslands of Mongolia, a magnificent landscape little changed since the time of Genghis Khan. Bil...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Hurichabilike, Geliban, Badema, Yidexinnaribu, Dawa (II)
Director: Hao Ning
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Kids & Family, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Family Films, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/24/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

The Wonder of Imagination
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 11/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It is not easy to develop a film from a child's point of it has only been done successfully a few times. (See VILLAGE OF DREAMS - a Japanese movie or PETER PAN). Here, a Mongolian boy who lives in one of the remote spots of the earth discovers a white ping pong ball floating down the river; neither he, nor the elders or even Buddhist priests, understand what it is. It floats. It glows when a flashlight is turned upon it. First, it is understood as a treasure of the river spirits. Next it is thought to be an invaluable glowing pearl. When the boy is told this is THE NATIONAL BALL of China, the boy and two other young friends undertake a wild quest to cross the Gobi Desert to return this treasure to Beijing. Of course, it is a mere ping pong ball, and when the young fellow finally understands the triviality of the ball, the magic is gone. So, which is better: human imagination or reality, a beautiful leap of faith or a scrawny truth?"
An Art-Like Film Infused With Child-Like Wonder
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 04/11/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In the vein of THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY, Chinese director Hao Ning captures a similar theme in MONGOLIAN PING PONG, but instead of a coke bottle this time it's a ping pong ball.

Seven-year-old Bilike lives on the Great Mongolian Steppe in a landscape of vast plains ruled by nomads-of-ol'. He survives with his family and friends in a fairly mundane cycle of life until one day he discovers a strange, white ball floating down a nearby river. He quickly grasps it and sets himself on an adventure. No one has ever seen anything like this ball. His bewitching grandmother tells him it's a good-luck item from the gods. Others think it might be a magical pearl. Bilike and his friends are enchanted and try to figure it out on their own. Traveling to wise monks, policeman, and eventually to Beijing, Bilike eventually finds out the truth about this rather ordinary object as he is forced to grow up.

Although similar in plotting to The Gods Must Be Crazy, Mongolian Ping Pong has better usage of camera, lighting and landscape. The panoramic vistas of the Mongolian Steppe are, without a doubt, absolutely magnificent. The location plays perhaps a more central character than the characters themselves. Which caused a few problems. Hao Ning (director) lets the camera linger on these beautiful shots too often and for too long, making the pacing agonizingly slow (although beautiful, one can only watch so much of this before it gets a bit tiring). Employing no-name actors is fairly common in films such as this, but it's very evident that none of these people (kids and adults alike) have very little if any acting experience, making many character sequences fall flat or wooden.

The initial quality of the filming, too, leant itself to a slightly documentary-style feel, which isn't horrible but something that detracts a little.

But even with these flaws, the story is quaint enough and infused with childlike wonder that most viewers probably won't mind. Be forewarned, though, as mentioned earlier, it is a sloooow film but shot with art-like dedication when looking at it overall."
A stimulating view of a culture unimaginable to many America
Brad Hoevel | Saginaw | 05/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film centers around family and friends of our main character Bilick, a young boy family living among nomadic hearders of the steppes in remote modern day Mongolia. Tucked deep within the country side, their group has managed to remain largely unafected by the frenzy of modern society. Western gadgets are rare commodities and Bilick is mystified when he discovers a ping pong ball floating down stream; confused by the ball's unique physical properties, he is not sure what he has found, he thinks perhaps a dragon's egg.

It is on this revelation on which the rest of the film comprises; three young boys set out on an adventure to unearth the mysterious origins of what we commonly know as a ping pong ball.

The language spoken in the film is Mongolian, but translates very well into english subtitles; you can tell which charactor is talking, the jokes are still funny, word emphasis and tonality are not completely lost in translation, etc.
This film has little to do with ping pong; more of it's focus and strength arise from the nuances of the culture it so beautifuly exposes within the eco-panorama of the asian steppe. In a world so very far away from out own, in a landscape more pristine than we could ever imagine, it is suprising that we still have so much in common with these charactors.

This film does not easily fit into a certain genre, it delves in, but never completely commits itself to comedy, drama and adventure. Much of the joy that comes from this movie are the thought provocing questions it brings to mind about society (globalization, culture, eco-systems, etc.). Equaly appealing was the beautiful cinematography of the steppes.

Ping-Pong inspires a sense of awe and a sense of wonder, offering an intimate glance into the captivating lifestyle of mongolian hearders unknown to most americans. These nuances, along with the childhood naivity of Bilick and his friends, will keep a smile on your face through out the movie.
Fans just getting into the indi/foreign film genre should check this out, as well as asian americans,ping pong fans, or anyone interested in sociology, psychology, ecology, geography, world history, and film lovers in general are a good fit to like this movie.
If you dont like foreign films or dont like to stray to far away from the typical hollywood production, this is probably not for you.
Charming slice of Mongolia, but a bit slow
T. Fisher | 08/18/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I had my doubts when I read the synopsis of this film. It sounded like a "The Gods Must Be Crazy" knockoff, with a ping pong ball in Mongolia instead of a Coke bottle in Africa. That's kind of true, but it's only half the story.

I recommend this film for two main reasons. First are the beautiful shots of the plains of Inner Mongolia -- part of China, not Mongolia the independent country. Unending grassy steppes with brooding cloudy skies. Wonderful, and the images alone are probably worth the price of admission.

Second is the glimpse it provides into life on those steppes. The trucks that come by with occasional random goods from afar for trade with the locals -- like a sheep for a coffee set, when the people have no idea what coffee is except that it's a kind of "American tea". The close relationship with horses. The apparent use of some occasional electrical equipment, like flashlights and televisions (I wish they had explained the power source for the latter, but I guess that's OK). The possibility that there is a place where a ping pong ball could inspire wonder.

Story is not the film's strong suit, and it does move slowly. Still, it is a charming tale about the innocence of boyhood. I appreciate having seen it, as I now feel I have a very passing familiarity with a world and a way of life I knew next to nothing about before."