THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI!
A little-known true story sensitively brought to the screen, The Children of Huang Shi is a sweeping but intimate story set against war-torn China in the 1930’s. The film centers on a young English journalist George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an American nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), and the leader of a Chinese partisan group "Jack" Chen (Chow Yun Fat) who meet in desperate and unexpected circumstances.
Together they rescue 60 orphaned children, leading them on an extraordinary journey across hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain, through snow-covered mountains and an unforgiving desert. Along the way they discover the true meaning of love, responsibility and courage.
Hogg arrives in Shanghai from England in 1938 just as the Japanese are taking control and enlists as a war correspondent. In occupied Nanjing he witnesses the massacre of 200 Chinese and is about to be executed himself when guerrillas led by Chen come to the rescue.
Wounded, George ends up recuperating in a rundown children's orphanage in rural Huang Shi, where the boys are slow to warm to him. Inevitably, he becomes their champion. He has an occasional accomplice in nurse Lee Pearson, who was once Jack's lover. With the Japanese poised to advance and Chinese nationals on the prowl for young recruits, George decides to trek the entire brood to a safe village in the faraway Gobi desert.
This may sound like the kind of implicitly condescending Great White Father saga in which Hollywood specializes. But the story is true, and English director Roger Spottiswoode never depicts the Chinese as anything less than George's equals.
While the movie provides a heavy dose of inspiration, it never preaches. We don't need to be told these events actually took place because everything in it makes human sense. The message here is that it is only through such people that great humanitarian change is accomplished. You can argue with this thesis, but at least we're not talking about DC or Marvel Comics superheroes here. George, Jack, and Lee are real superheroes.
For some reason, the critics have not been kind to this film. I found it a welcome relief from the comic bloodbaths of Summer blockbusters. Spottiswoode stages the war atrocities depicted in The Children of Huang Shi on a realistic scale, giving them a chilling impact. The viewer feels the pain because it is real – unlike the numbing carnage graphically displayed in the likes of Wanted or The Dark Knight.
The Children of Huang Shi is an uplifting, beautifully photographed, historical epic with a human face. When the credits role under the faces and translated voices of some of the orphans who are still alive today, you will be riveted to your seat.
U.N.C.L.E. movie supposedly gearing up in the U.K.
10 hours ago