Yellow Colt: Busan Review

A story of a boy and his horse exploits Mongolia’s natural beauty but not much else.

Khoroldjorj Choijoovanchig’s debut feature is a tale of a runaway colt and the young boy that rides him to a racing victory.

The beautifully barren Mongolian plains are the setting for Khoroldjorj Choijoovanchig’s debut feature, Yellow Colt, an underwhelming tale of a runaway colt and the young boy that rides him to a racing victory. Not quite a coming of age story and not quite about the pains of loss and identity, the film sits on the fence between overly artistic drivel and painfully mainstream uplift.

Pre-teen Galt (Narankhuu Bayarkhuu) returns to his nomadic family after the uncle that adopted him dies, leaving him no choice but to return to his so-called motherland. After a period of adjustment, he learns to get on with his parents, particularly dad Badam (Tserenbold Tsegmid), and older brother Tomor. At the same time Badam is preparing his herd of horses for a vaguely prestigious Naadam race contested among the surrounding herders.

Galt takes an instant shine to a wild yellow colt that wanders into the pack one day, and asks his brother to help him train the animal for the upcoming race. The horse is considered a good omen, and sure enough Galt wins. Other than a minor rivalry between Badam and another herder that wants the horse, or just doesn’t want Badam to have it, that’s the extent of the action.

Yellow Colt is kindhearted and well intentioned, and taken together that also equates to dull. The performances are defined by wistful gazing and mournful stares, and plenty of time is devoted to horses running in slow motion against the vast Mongolian grasslands. Tack on a distracting soundtrack fit for an inspirational Lifetime movie and a racing refrain reminiscent of a 1960s television western, and the result is an unassuming story that sadly flirts with camp rather than rousing.

A Window on Asian Cinema
Cast Narankhuu Bayarkhuu, Damdin Sambuunyam, Tserenbold Tsegmid
Director Khoroldjorj Choijoovanchig
No rating, 91 minutes