Mountain Patrol

Columbia/National Geographic

In the 1980s, the wool of the Tibetan antelope became highly valued on the international market, and within a decade poachers had nearly wiped out the entire species. This led to the formation of a volunteer army that roamed China’s untouched and stunning Kekexili region, which Mountain Patrol profiles in fictionalized, near-mythic fashion. The film is being released under the National Geographic label, and the saturated images seem to leap right from the pages of that magazine. The movie is shot like a John Ford Western epic (with Kekexili aptly standing in for Monument Valley), only with less booze and more endangered antelope carcasses. But unlike the classic Ford Westerns, Mountain Patrol never develops a personality or an emotional pull, remaining as nobly stoic as its characters.