Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

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Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:15 am

*A 2006 U.S. Release*

Based on actual events, Mountain Patrol: Kekexili is a thrilling, old-fashioned adventure which sports a larger-than-life scope, albeit at times without the adequate depth. Set in the Kekexili region, a vast barren expanse atop the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau which happens to be the largest animal reserve in China, the film documents the struggles of volunteer patrolmen who for much of the 90s fought to protect the rare Tibetan antelopes (and their valuable pelts) from poachers. Ga Yu (Lei Zhang), a fresh-faced journalist from Beijing who serves as our guide, arrives in the region early on in the film and witnesses a village in mourning. The reason being that the poachers had recently murdered yet another patrolman on duty. Now their rugged leader, Ri Tai (Bujie Duo), is about to organize what could be their final expedition to catch the enemy.

While the basic set-up of Mountain Patrol is as simple as what one usually comes cross in a big-budget western film, director Lu Chuan (The Missing Gun [2002]) even foregoes any backstory elements, perhaps to keep his film moving as swiftly and leanly as possible. As Ga Yu gets acclimated with the crew and his new surroundings, he gets a better grasp on the situation which often demands compromises. On their way, they come across and capture many who are forced to work for the poachers due to economic hardships. At this point the film, which was inching towards becoming an "actioneer," deepens, even though Chuan largely stays away from politicizing the Tibetan conflict, knowing full well that the film may not have the legs to carry such a weighty issue, not to mention the fact that this is an "official" Chinese production.

It could be said, however, that Mountain Patrol eventually emerges as an elemental, man/nature conflict of the Herzogian variety. (In fact, I am a little surprised that the German filmmaker didnt get to this region first!) Working with DP Cao Yu, Chuan often allows the awe-inspiring images of the overbearing landscape to speak for themselves. And proved by the films most harrowing sequence, this undiscerning terrain is certainly more than capable of defending itself.

Grade: B

*The film was released in U.S. theaters earlier this week.

Re: Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

Postby hengcs » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:34 pm

Director: Lu Chuan
Cast: Duobuji

Among its many awards,
The film has won the Best Film in Golden Horse Award 2004 .
It has also received the "Don Quixote Award - Special Mention" in Berlin International Film Festival 2005 .

Well, since my OLD review has been "deleted" by the virus a year ago ...
here is my "new" review/or "try to recall" review ...
because I have yet to watch it again ... hee hee

My thoughts ...
-- In terms of plot, it is not very "thrilling" ... nothing much really happens in fact ...
then why did it win so many awards ...
there are plausibly three important reasons ...

(i) the technicalities ...
-- the cinematography ...
... the scenery and the vast weather change ... wow ...
i.e., at a height of about 4,600 ...

-- the "harshness" of the filming condition ...
... it may or may not be easy to tell that the filming condition is really harsh ...
e.g., when the men ran in shorts in the water ... the temperature is excruciatingly cold ...

-- the filming style ... the fact that the line is blurred between movie and documentary and real life ... the director has chosen to make it look like a documentary, removing MANY "melodramatic" and "heart wrenching" scenes, so that it feels less manipulative ... yet, at the end of the film, one can still feel some emotions ... which is considered a rather tough feat, i.e., without dramatization ...

(ii) it has a good message about protecting the wild
(in this case, the Tibetan antelopes)

(iii) finally, it really describes human relationship and behavior/survival very well ... the film merely depicts events as they are ... narrating them "simply" without exploitation ... without too much tears nor blood ... whether one likes it or not ... whether incidents are expected or not ... many of the incidents just happen ... without the audience preparing for it ... without warnings and without "endings" ...

e.g., most notably, i think many people will remember the scenes with the very weak old man ... what can we say ...
i.e., * major spoiler * the one who claims he will not survive the walk/journey out ... * end of spoiler *

e.g., the opening scene ...
i.e., * major spoiler * the sudden gun shot and killing ... * end of spoiler *

e.g., near the end incidents ...
i.e., * major spoiler * the snow storm and the quick sand ... * end of spoiler *


Recommended. However, note that it does NOT have a very complicated nor constantly engaging plot. Instead, it has a very human story that seems more like a documentary ... because the director does not want to appear too manipulative or make it appear like a movie ... but rather depict life as it is ...

Re: Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

Postby trevor826 » Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:36 pm

I've had the dvd hanging around since Christmas so after seeing (but not reading) the comments I thought I'd better take a look at it.

I enjoyed its almost "reportage" style though obviously a bit of artistic licence had to be used as well. The mountain patrol were reminiscent of the old "posses" you would often see in Westerns, rough and unruly but since this is based on true events and considering the job they were trying to do, I have no doubt that it's pretty true to life.

The lack of dramatics certainly differentiates this film from a typical adventure film although the patrol did appear to act a little foolhardy at times causing more danger to themselves than the poachers did.

All in all a worthy effort, pointing out not only the desperate need for protection of an endangered species but the sheer effort and will needed to survive in such a harsh landscape.

Definitely worth seeing.

Cheers Trev.

R2 dvd from Columbia Pictures, good picture and sound but a complete lack of extras.

Re: Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:53 pm

I pretty much felt the same way.

"... obviously a bit of artistic licence had to be used as well."

True. I'm sure that certain situations were enhanced for dramatic purposes, but there weren't many unnecessary sub-plots.

I didn't know that an R2 was available; anyway, I'm glad that this thread motivated you to watch it.

Re: Lu Chuan's Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (China / 2004)

Postby trevor826 » Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:27 am

"... obviously a bit of artistic licence had to be used as well."

I couldn't go into any depth as it would have meant adding spoilers but whereas most of the scenes are from the perspective of the reporter, there are scenes involving one particular member of the patrol that had to be creative simply because the truth will never be known.

The seed for that part of the story was planted earlier when the group were discussing the definition of "Kekexili".

Cheers Trev.

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