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The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

TOMATOMETER

Average Rating: 4.6/10
Reviews Counted: 77
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 54

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

33%
Average Rating: 4.8/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 20

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

AUDIENCE SCORE

Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 70,020

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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
Runtime:
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Children of Huang Shi

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (54) | DVD (3)

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
Newsday
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

A disappointingly detached and tame film for such a subject matter.

Full Review… | August 10, 2011
EmanuelLevy.Com

...the film falls flat under the weight of its period-drama conventions and three performances that epitomize paycheck joylessness.

February 13, 2009
H Magazine

Cynicism for another true story of a reckless white adventurer finding redemption and purpose helping 3rd World unfortunates evaporates with stunning and moving WWII scenes.

Full Review… | December 7, 2008
Film-Forward.com

The real test of endurance is on the shoulders of an audience challenged to sit through more than two hours of predictable plot turns and recycled sentimentality.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Screen International

Nothing in this film is subtle or unexpected, and even the hero's several near-death experiences create no real tension

Full Review… | September 19, 2008
Playback:stl

...an inspiring tale of a man answering a call to greatness even if he doesn't fully understand why it's fallen to him.

September 12, 2008

Xiaoding Zhao's cinematography is splendid, Roger Spottiswoode's direction is workmanlike.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

It is missing conviction.

Full Review… | July 10, 2008
The Australian

Its anti-cynical faith in the value of altruism is encouraging.

Full Review… | July 7, 2008
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

History is never easy to capture in a fiction film, especially with a war in the background. But you have to at least try to embrace the whole of it, not just tear off a convenient chunk. Real life is inconvenient; great movies still deal with it.

Full Review… | July 4, 2008
Sydney Morning Herald

Unfortunately, like so many movies that celebrate a historical hero, Children is plagued by an overblown sense of its own importance.

Full Review… | July 3, 2008
Austin Chronicle

The Children of Huang Shi is so desperate to be the Asian Schindler's List, an example of atrocity draped in abject artistry, that it forgets to lay out the context.

Full Review… | July 1, 2008
PopMatters

... an affecting portrait and a strong story with a compelling backdrop, and Chinese cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao makes the gorgeous locations look magnificent.

Full Review… | June 29, 2008
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The settings in remote China are wonderfully diverse as seen through Xiaoding Zhao's lens, and the passionate and heartfelt saga unfolds beautifully, capturing our hearts.

Full Review… | June 28, 2008
Urban Cinefile

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.

deano
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

½

"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.

Harlequin68
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.

speedisdeceiving
Chihoe Ho

Super Reviewer

½

Beautiful to look at. KIlled by melodramatic script.

juliryan
Juli Ryan

Super Reviewer

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