The film parallels two stories: an impoverished Chinese father who sacrifices his wife and son to raise a facially-deformed orphan named Ling (Yi Ding) as his very own, and a Malibu self-absorbed teenager (Mika Boorem as Katie) who seemingly has it all including the arguing parents (Beau Bridges and Linda Hamilton) and a boyfriend (Erik von Detten) pushing her to have sex. She goes to China with a volunteer medical program, (Operation Smile, which provides reconstructive surgery to needy children and young adults in developing countries and the United States) and comes face to face with the realities of the big bad world.
This is one of those movies that make you sit and wonder. Wonder about the difficulties that some underprivileged people face. The hardships they go through and in this movie it is interesting to see how Katie transforms into someone whose mission it is to help someone else.
The character of the Chinese father (Wang Luoyong) is one that especially impressed me as it is very touching to watch a father sacrifice everything for the love of an adopted child especially one with a physical deformity.
It's uplifting, and it's in a good cause, which I'm assuming is what attracted the names in the cast including Sean Astin as her teacher and Cheri Oteri as the too-enthusiastic nurse from Utah.