The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

TOMATOMETER

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

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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 remote village near the western end of China's Great Wall.

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Cast

Radha Mitchell
as Lee Pearson
Yun-Fat Chow
as "Jack" Chen Hansheng
Michelle Yeoh
as Madame Wang
Guang Li
as Shi-Kai
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Critic Reviews for The Children of Huang Shi

All Critics (78) | Top Critics (29)

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

Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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.

Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4
Newsday
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.

Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2/4
USA Today
Top Critic

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

Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2/4

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.

Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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.

Jul 16, 2008 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Children of Huang Shi

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.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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
Dean McKenna

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
Chihoe Ho

Super Reviewer

Escape from Huang Shi, as it is called in Hong Kong, is truly an inspiring movie. Spottiswoodes direction of the actors and the surrounding scenery makes the film come to life in a terrific way Chow Yun Fat, Mitchell and Yeoh all turn in fantastic performances. But Meyers turn as a journalist fall drastically, he is neither funny or interesting as the lead character However the rest of the movie is extraordinary, it successfully provokes the horrors of the Japanese occupation of China in WWII down to the smallest detail of saving a group of orphaned children. A truly inspiring movie

Caius Chung
Caius Chung

Super Reviewer

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