Set against the stunning mountainous backdrops of Tibet’s Kekexili region, this epic drama relates real-life events from a decade ago, when an armed team of Tibetan volunteers attempted to protect the indigenous antelope from being wiped out by Chinese poachers. Ga Yu (Zhang Lei) is the Beijing journo who accompanies the patrolmen, led by the taciturn figure of Ri Tai (Duo Bujie), on their mission. There’s mortal danger not only from those they’re pursuing, but also from the treacherous weather conditions and high altitude.
Writer-director Lu Chan is a snappy storyteller, mounting some thrilling action sequences (barefoot chase across a freezing river, man drowning in quicksand). And there’s a keen moral ambiguity to the characters’ deeds: Ri Tai is prepared to sacrifice his men’s lives for the quest, while the hunters are only killing their prey to survive.