Review: ‘A Young Ibex’

Strong lead perfs, unfussy direction and a solid script make Chinese village drama "A Young Ibex" more than the sum of its largely familiar parts. A change of English title and a makeover of the poor subtitles could equip this first feature by writer-director Su Lei for a modest festival career and airing on ethnic movie channels.

Strong lead perfs, unfussy direction and a solid script make Chinese village drama “A Young Ibex” more than the sum of its largely familiar parts. A change of English title and a makeover of the poor subtitles could equip this first feature by writer-director Su Lei (long in commercials and TV drama series) for a modest festival career and airing on ethnic movie channels.

Set in Su’s own backyard — the Uyghur autonomous region of remote Xinjiang province — story is based on a true event that took place in Tianshan. Despite the efforts of his devoted wife, Baoxiu (Dong Ping), struggling oil maker Mao Yusheng (Zhou Bo) doesn’t get on with his brother-in-law, village honcho Ge Baozhu (Wang Shuangbao). Things seem to improve during a reconciliatory dinner, but, when Ge discovers he’s been served ibex (a Grade I protected animal), he throws the book at Mao, plunging the village into a legal tangle that also exposes a secret from Ge’s own past. Apart from a couple of (snippable) sequences, pic doesn’t trade on its borderline exotic setting, getting by on real character drama between the thesps, especially Zhou and Wang.

A Young Ibex

China

Production

A Xinjiang Dasen Culture Media Corp., Tianshan Film Studio production. Produced by Zhang Yigang, Wang Shuping. Executive producer, Duan Yuehao. Directed, written by Su Lei.

Crew

Camera (color), Wei Dazheng; editor, Gao Xiujuan; music, Xu Xiaoming; art director, A [cq, no period] Ersen. Reviewed at Shanghai Film Festival (Panorama), June 19, 2007. Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Zhou Bo, Wang Shuangbao, Dong Ping, Cui Zhihao.
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