Mountain Patrol: Kekexili Review

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A team of brave local volunteers track down the hunters killing the endangered Tibetan antelope for its valuable wool.


Echoes of Bahman Ghobadi's A Time for Drunken Horses reverberate around this Chinese Western, as director Lu Chuan and cinematographer Cao Yu brilliantly exploit the ferocious landscape to explore the fragility of existence and the desperate measures to which the marginalised have to resort in the face of state-inspired socio-cultural purgation. In 1997, China was appalled by photojournalist Ga Yu's revelation of the extent of antelope poaching in the Tibetan wilderness. But Lu isn't content with simply recreating Ga's 17-day expedition with the vigilantes who scoured the region for the racketeers and dispossessed farmers who'd been lured into crime. Instead, he celebrates the courage and commitment of the Kekexili peasants and their fierce pride in their traditional lifestyle. With Duobujie impressing as the single-minded patrol leader, this is uncompromisingly compelling.