Thursday, December 8, 2016

Movie Review: "The Ivory Game" (2016)

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Movie"The Ivory Game"
Director: Kief Davidson & Richard Ladkani
Year: 2016
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

An exposé on the illegal ivory trade between Africa and China, which threatens to make African elephants extinct within our lifetime.

"The Ivory Game" is a Netflix documentary directed by Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani. The film is an exposé on the illegal ivory trade between numerous African countries and China, who is the biggest ivory consumer in the world. The story is told through interviews with wildlife conservationists, as well as law enforcement in Africa and global activists working to make a difference when it comes to attitudes and policies about poaching. Its focus is on the dwindling population of African elephants in the wild, a number that has dropped to about 50,000 since the 70's. This number is so low and the rate of poaching is so high that if things don't change, the African elephant could be extinct within five years. It also focuses on undercover activists who try and obtain proof via videos and photographs of people caught in the act selling illegal ivory and other various items involving endangered animals.

This is a heartbreaking documentary, one that puts on full display the horrors of what poachers do to elephants. It has gotten so bad that conservationists go out and literally put their lives on the line to protect these creatures. In sometimes graphic detail, elephant carcasses are shown, sometimes with their entire heads removed by poachers. Another interesting thing this documentary shows is that people in China are starting to take notice and wildlife activism is growing in the country. Many citizens care about saving elephants and are doing their best to get the government to take notice. There are a few that even infiltrate these illegal ivory dealerships and again risk their own safety to expose these illegalities. It is dangerous because many of these illegal ivory dealerships are run by the Triads and other organized crime families. In these places, we find out that a tusk a poacher has sold for $15 bucks or so now has been carved into something that will sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in China. With a mark up like that, one can see why stopping the industry is such an uphill battle.

"The Ivory Game" is a very compelling and often moving documentary that is effective for its purpose, which is to get the audience to care about this issue. It truly is shocking to see the amount of ivory these governments have confiscated from poachers, we are talking hundreds of tons of ivory on a constant basis. If you are a fan of nature documentaries, this is definitely worth checking out because it is intense, well made, and thorough, but be forewarned, it gets very graphic at times.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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