The Children of Huang Shi (2008)



Critic Consensus: This beautifully photographed but dramatically flat war drama recounts an important chapter in history with little cinematic freshness.

Movie Info

Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of George Hogg, a young British journalist, who rescues 60 orphaned children. He leads them on a treacherous 1000-mile journey along the Silk Road, through the Liu Pan Shan Mountains into the spectacular Gobi desert. Over the course of the journey he falls in love with a determined, self-trained nurse, and makes a friend in Chen, the leader of a Chinese partisan group. Madame Wang, a surviving aristocrat, assists in guiding them to safety in a … More

Rating: R (for some disturbing and violent content)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: James MacManus, Jane Hawksley
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 20, 2009
Box Office: $0.7M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


as Lee Pearson

as "Jack" Chen Hansheng

as Madame Wang

as Shi-Kai
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Critic Reviews for The Children of Huang Shi

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (30)

It radiates intelligence. Of how many historical epics can that be said these days?

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

It is, however, such a spectacular-looking movie, as shot by cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding that it is, to use that old cliche, worth the price of admission.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Very pretty but very stiffly written, The Children of Huang Shi strives for epic canvases relaying an intimate story.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Though there are some powerful performances, notably those of Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat, and some sweeping visuals, the movie feels melodramatic and overheated.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
USA Today
Top Critic

If you can get past the Eurocentric focus, there are worse ways to pass the time than to see The Children of Huang Shi, if only because the glimpse into the time and place are captivating and the images are gorgeous.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Perhaps it would have been wise for the director, Roger Spottiswoode, to make more efficient use of Chow Yun-fat, who shows up now and then as a resistance fighter.

Full Review… | July 16, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Children of Huang Shi

This film based on a true events of an English reporter who saved Chinese orphan boys from the Japanese invasion in the 1930s is meaning of love, accountability and bravery. That also happened the same story of escaping and trekking over the mountains in 1958's The Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman as English servant girl Gladys Aylward.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer


"The Children of Huang Shi" starts in 1937 Shanghai as journalist George Hogg(Jonathan Rhys Meyers) tricks his way into the war zone of Nanjing by pretending to be an ambulance driver. While there, he witnesses a civilian massacre, is captured by the Japanese and is almost beheaded before being rescued at the last second by Communist insurgents, led by Chen Hansheng(Chow Yun-Fat). Hogg's two compatriots are not so lucky and Chen and Hogg have another tight escape before Chen spirits Hogg away to an orphanage for safekeeping. And again, Hogg needs rescuing, this time from a beatdown by the kids, by Lee Pearson(Radha Mitchell), an expatriate nurse who has been in country for five years and the closest thing to a doctor for miles around.

Based on a true story, "The Children of Huang Shi" is an enticing and beautifully photographed epic that is not without its share of flaws. There are pacing issues and it could have been longer but I like how it ends. On the plus side, the film goes beyond the old fashioned trappings with little complexities, especially with the children being more troubled than cute. The complicated political realities of the time are captured perfectly with the Nationalists and the Communists both fighting the Japanese but can never overcome their political differences to totally trust each other. However, Chen risks his life to rescue trapped Nationalist soldiers at one point.

"The Children of Huang Shi" is not a war movie about combat, but about knowing when to fight and choose your battles, so it is okay to escape in one piece. There is no reason to be heroic if you are dead. Even then, any survivors will remain forever changed by the experience and probably not for the better. Chen was an engineer and now he blows up buildings to ensure the Japanese do not recover valuable information.(At least, somebody enjoys their job.) Along the way, Hogg learns that the best way to conquer the world is through kindness.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

It has a great backstory and the makings of an epic film, but somehow fell short. The acting felt forced and abrupt, but there were glimpses of what it could have been.

Chihoe Ho

Super Reviewer

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