Offering a surfeit of now-familiar, admittedly striking images of the Mongolian grasslands dominated by a man on a horse silhouetted against the sky, his faithful white sheepdog trailing behind, vet helmer Zhuo Gehe’s latest outing, “Blue Knight,” recounts the equally familiar, slow-moving tale of a youth’s inexorable city-bound betrayal of his father’s dying rural traditions. Lacking the sweep and humor of “Tulpan” or the exotic fauna of “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” the pic’s humble virtues — wry, well-thesped character interaction and inventive juxtapositions of medieval and 21st-century technologies — are unlikely to take it far.
Qina Ritu portrays the stubborn father whose inflexibility alienates his daughter (Ning Bu, excellent), and who now seeks desperately to accommodate his son (Ha Da) to prevent him from leaving. Qina’s performance effortlessly carries the film, his face as he watches his offspring ride off to herd on a shiny new motorcycle almost worth the longueurs. And Na Miya as his ever-toiling, ironically perceptive wife stirs up the film’s yurt-bound domestic sequences. Tech credits are accomplished; lenser Wu Haitao’s suspense-inducing pan shots practically turn rat-catching into a spectator sport.