Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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On the surface, a drama about the protection of the endangered Tibetan antelope doesn't sound too gripping. But Mountain Patrol is just that: photojournalist Ga Yu arrives in the remote camp of the legendary Kekexili hunter Ri Tai, whose band of men he will accompany in a gruelling pursuit of the poachers who slaughter hundreds of antelope and sell their valuable skins. Director Lu Chuan makes more than a chase movie here; he evokes the hardscrabble existence of the Chinese patrolmen and the ambushes that lurk in this savage, wind-scoured landscape. Some of the images have the implacable harshness of Goya, like the shot of vultures feeding on carcasses, or of a man agonisingly swallowed up in quicksand. Based on true events between 1993 and 1996, it's a thoroughly compelling story of survival.