Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mountain Patrol |
Actors: Zhang Lei, Duobuji, Liang Qi, Xueying Zhao, Zhanlin Ma
Director: Chuan Lu
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
A jounalist documents the Kekexili mountain patrol, a group of volunteers determined to stop poachers from killing off the Tibetan antelopes. — Genre: Foreign Film - Chinese — Rating: PG13 — Release Date: 29-AUG-2006 — Media T... more »
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Kerry B. from PORTAGE, MI
Reviewed on 11/19/2009...
Beautiful film. The landscape is like a National Geographic special. The acting is excellent. Based on a true story of the Tibetan Plateau Mountain Patrol.
In America over 100 years ago, the western settlers slaughtered the buffalo to the point of extinction for the value of hides. In China, it is the mid-1990's slaughter of a million Tibetan antelope.
This is the story of the peasant volunteers' attempt to preserve the Tibetan antelope in the face of government indifference. Tradional aspects of Tibetan heritage are in the crossfire, yet again, as poachers annihilate antelope herds en mass with AK-47's.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A great action-drama with beautiful cinematography
SW Highlander | Savannah, GA USA | 08/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I saw Kekexili at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and both loved the movie. It reminds me of "Touching the Void", with its real life dramatic story retold on the screen. It's the true story of a wildlife war on the remote Tibetan highlands, where local villagers mounted their own patrols as game wardens to save the vanishing Tibetan antelope. In the mid 1990s, the unique species was hunted for its pelts (to be sold to Western furriers) to near extinction, and local patrols fought battles with poachers using automatic rifles in jeeps while dealing with lands devoid of roads, altitudes over 20,000 feet, quicksand, and extremes of weather to save it. A city reporter goes out to these remote lands to investigate rumors of the antelope wars, and when the story finally gets told in the Beijing papers, it helps spark countrywide interest and support that has led to a turn around in herd numbers in the last 10 years.
The director travelled out to the Tibetan highlands and lived with the local tribesman for a year to gain their trust and learn the story of their battles. He then used them as actors to tell their story, travelling 4 hours each way every day from the nearest town to filming locations! The acting was excellent - I have a hard time believing they had no acting experience, but the director cites the Tibetan culture of night-time storytelling as a possible reason why they could act so well their first time on screen. Anyway, the story is compelling; the scenery unbelievably vast, gorgeous and harsh; and the acting well done.
A wonderful movie I highly recommend. I've been hoping the DVD would get picked up by an English-language distribitor for over a year so my friends and family can see it!"
A profoundly impressive, important film
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is a truly powerful film that draws the most poignant of contrasts between the beauty of nature and the brutality of men. The film plays on many levels, as this story of a group of brave volunteers fighting to drive out the poachers from their land ultimately turns into nothing less than a spiritual journey for one character and most definitely for the viewer, as well. This is much more than just a good story, however, as it was inspired by actual events. With poachers decimating the herds of Tibetan antelope in Kekexili, a volunteer patrol was formed in the 1990s by locals to patrol the area and stop the poaching, even at the risk of their own lives. We're talking about a huge area of mostly barren land in the unforgiving mountains (over three miles above sea level) of Tibet, one of the coldest places on earth. Some of these men gave their lives to the struggle, but they did ultimately succeed in bringing international attention to the problem and the establishment of Kekexili as a natural animal reserve by China, and the number of Tibetan antelopes has now begun to rebound strongly.
We initially see events play out through the eyes of a reporter from Beijing, sent to write a story on the Border Guard's struggles against the poachers. Ga Yu arrives during the funeral for a guard who had been murdered. Westerners may be perplexed by what they see here, as the funerary tradition of this land is, to put it far too simply, to feed the dead body to vultures. Soon thereafter, Ga Yu joins Ri Tai and his men on patrol into the mountains. As he gradually bonds with these men, who have left family and friends behind to take part in this dangerous journey, the story evolves into Ri Tai's story. Ri Tai will risk everything, including his very life, to stop the poachers from polluting his land. The viewer gets a visceral look at the destruction the poachers leave in their wake, as the men come upon a snow-white field completely covered with the carcasses of dead antelopes. When they spread out hundreds of seized pelts, the effect is similarly powerful, particularly as it shows how the animals were basically mowed down with large caliber weapons. After finding and arresting a group of skinners, Ri Tai knows he is on the trail of the men behind all the killing, and he won't stop until he finds them. The journey could not be more dangerous: extreme, dangerous weather conditions, a dwindling supply of food and supplies, and the threat of ambush attacks by the men Ri Tai seeks. The Border Guard numbers dwindle down to almost nothing by the ending, setting up the viewer for a most memorable and in some ways shocking conclusion.
Director Chuan Lu has made a masterful film, overcoming innumerable challenges along the way. The beauty of the environment, the camaraderie of the Border Guard volunteers, and Ri Tai's unflagging determination are all presented exceptionally well, while the cast of predominantly non-actors is really superb. You can't help but be inspired by the unbounded determination of these local men, volunteers all, to take a stand and make a huge difference in the land they call home."
A Deeply Moving Story, Magnificently Shot and Told
Steve Koss | New York, NY United States | 11/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Margaret Mead is reputed to have said, "Never doubt for a moment that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can make a difference. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." In MOUNTAIN PATROL, Director Chuan Lu demonstrates, indeed, how a small group of Tibetans made a difference in the vast and harshly beautiful region known as Kekexili (which the movie tells us means "beautiful mountains and girls."
In 1985, machine-gun toting poachers began ravaging Kekexili's herds of Tibetan antelopes for the furs, to be sold in the West. By the mid-1990's, an antelope population that numbered over a million had been reduced to less than 10,000 and was being hunted into extinction. Volunteer patrols of local Tibetans, including both the Wild Yak Brigade and the Kekexili Mountain Patrol, began their own efforts to block the poachers and protect their native wildlife. This story, set in the winter of 1996 and presumably based on true events, describes the efforts of the Kekexili Mountain Patrol and its leader, Captain Ri Tai.
The story line revolves around Ga Yu, a reporter from Beijing who is sent to Tibet to investigate the death of one of the Mountain Patrol's members at the hands of poachers. Ga Yu arrives a seeming novice in Tibet (even though his father was Tibetan) just in time to witness the slain patrolman's funeral ceremony. The deceased receives a sky burial, in which the human remains are chopped up and fed to vultures and the rest burned. Director Chuan Lu juxtaposes this form of human ritual with the appearance of vultures and the burnings of carcasses (antelopes, trucks, jeeps, etc.) throughout his film. Captain Ri Tai (Duo Buji, a dominating presence on the screen) reluctantly agrees to let Ga Yu accompany his patrol as they set out in search of the main band of poachers. Along the way, Ga Yu begins to understand that this search is more than just a policing action. It is protection of a venerated way of life; Kekexili has a sacred and primal place in the hearts of its people. As one character notes, the thing that haunts him about the land is that when he sets foot in a place, he may be the first person in all of human history to do so in that particular spot.
Ri Tai and his men (a former university student, a highway checkpoint worker for loggers, a taxi driver, a soldier, and a herder, among others) encounter a pelt carrier and a group of skinners, led by the wonderously terse but endearing old man, Ma Zhanlin (his real name as well as his character's name). In a clever moment of environmentalism, Chuan Lu has Old Ma tell us that he and his three sons were once shepherds, but the grasslands disappeared and they switched to skinning antelopes for the poachers for about sixty cents per pelt. In the end, Ri Tai finds his poacher and refuses the latter's bribes in the name of justice and preservation of the antelope herd. None of this is achieved without a price, however, and Chuan Lu exacts an enormous and often tragic toll on all the players in this cat-and-mouse game.
Chuan Lu's pacing in this movie is magnificent, slowing things down enough to mimic the pace of life (and the difficulty of breathing) in the Tibetan plateau yet keeping the action moving. The cinematography is breathtaking, both magnificent in its range and horrifying in its ferocity. Grays and earth tones predominate, so much so that the movie borders on black and white in places. Chuan Lu mixes Nature's basic elements - fire, ice, wind, water, sand, snow - into a stew of factors waging their own natural war on the patrol even as they as at war with the poachers. No one can mistake Kekexili for what it is: a majestic but unforgiving land where survival is a daily battle for man and beast. The battle between poachers and patrols make up a small piece of that larger struggle. This is a deeply felt exploration of the relationship between man and Nature and the role of human faith in the primacy of his natural environment."