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The Children of Huang Shi

Jonathan Rhys Meyers , Radha Mitchell , Roger Spottiswoode    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as real-life hero Charles Hogg in this mix of old-fashioned epic sweep and spiritual courage. Hogg is a naive journalist when he accidentally finds himself in wartorn China's Nanking province, just as the Japanese army is invading during the early days of World War II. He is almost executed but is rescued by a crafty communist guerilla (Chow Yun-Fat) and a lovely, brash nurse (Radha Mitchell). They send Hogg to a burnt-out orphanage to lie low, but as the scruffy orphans begin to charm him, he ends up teaching them English and basketball. Longtime Hong Kong superstar Michelle Yeoh (CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) is a classy merchant who helps Hogg get the orphanage back on its feet, but then comes trouble when communist insurgents want to conscript the orphans into the local militia. THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI is a rare case of an English film being shot in mainland China, and director Roger Spottiswoode (who worked with Yeoh previously on the Bond film TOMORROW NEVER DIES) and cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding get maximum mileage from the dusky beauty of the landscapes, the smoke and charred ruins, and the luminous features of the lead actors. Sweeping romance and war atrocities aside, what sticks here is the beauty of watching Hogg embrace his chance to become an instrument of peace and hope in a dangerous time. The real-life orphans, now elderly, appear at the end to honor the memory of the real Hogg in a touching tribute that lends the proceedings extra emotional impact. Product Details •Number of Discs: 1 •Rating: R (MPAA) •Film Country: USA •UPC: 043396252967

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5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this movie Nov. 14 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I love johnathan reys-Meyers in everything he does but this is really well done. Great story. Would highly recommend this if you like epic classic movies.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage on the Silk Road April 22 2008
By Flight Risk (The Gypsy Moth) - Published on Amazon.com
This is the true account of George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a young English journalist in China during the Japanese occupation of 1937. Initially there to cover the occupation and all that that entails, he and another journalist manage to infiltrate into an area where they are not welcome disguised as Red Cross workers. Things take an ugly turn, and George finds himself alone and wounded, captured by the Japanese, and about to be executed when he is rescued by a Chinese partisan. He is whisked away to a remote orphanage in the hills to recuperate, and what is at first only tolerated by the invalid becomes his mission in life.

With the help of the Chinese partisan (the great Chow Yun Fat) and a young Australian woman adventurer/nurse (Radha Mitchell), George undertakes an almost unbelievable task: to evacuate the sixty orphan boys in the orphanage he has turned into a school 700 miles through China mountain passes on the Silk Road to the edge of the Gobi Desert, to save them from being conscripted into war.

Beautifully filmed, the movie portrays mid-twentieth century China against breathtaking vistas and crowded cities amidst ancient buildings and sweeping deserts. The full vast scope of China is so gorgeously shown it makes you want to go there, and retells the story of George and his sixty young charges to a new generation of moviegoers who most likely have never heard of the Japanese Occupation. There is a beautiful score as well; the right music compliments a film, and this is all that and more.

I love a good historical drama well told, and there are no missteps here. This was an excellent film.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A" for effort, intent, and beauty. July 13 2008
By jlo1 - Published on Amazon.com
I agree with Flight Risk's review of this film on all accounts. I saw the movie last night, and could not help but be very moved by it. I am also glad that this man's obscure story is being told, as anyone can use it as an example for their life...I know that it has touched me greatly.

Technically a few flaws can be found, and most media reviewers are doing so, and completely missing the point of the movie. I do agree that a documentary version of Hogg's efforts really needs to be made, so that even more people can know the true history here, without the artistic embellishment. I also don't think that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was really the best pick for portraying Hogg, as his pretty-boy looks somehow distracts from the character's believability, but his acting is touching nonetheless. The storytelling also does kind of move at a quick pace, and you really have to let what is being said here soak in through your eyes to your heart as it moves along -- that is, the realities of that era and being a child with no home or hope, which is what the story really is about. I think that these things are what has distracted the negative media reviewers from the beauty of the movie, unfortunately.

The story has very tragic points and I won't spoil them here. But I can say that during the final credits, some of the grown-up children that Hogg saved, give their thoughts on him and how he affected their lives, and what they feel they owe him. After the way the movie ends, combined with their sentiments, tears were a foregone conclusion for me and I don't cry at movies. Do see this film, if you are at all interested in Asian history, and children, and the inspiration of a life lived well, the way humans are meant to live -- in humble service to each other. I will definitely be purchasing this DVD when it's released and hopefully it will contain more backstory on Hogg and the children.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nearly Impossible Story to Tell or Believe: True Heroism Jan. 23 2009
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI is a long (greater than two hours) epic tale that happens to be a true story of an extraordinary hero's life and gift to humanity during World War II. If as a film the telling of this story is a bit shaky in spots, it is probably due to the episodic series of events that happened very quickly and under existing conditions of profound stress. Yet despite the occasional misfires in production this remains a bit of history we all should know.

George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a journalist assigned to Shanghai in 1937 and with his colleagues he plans to explore the extent of the invasion of China by the Japanese. Under the guise of Red Cross workers his small band manages to enter Nanjing where now alone due to the loss of his friends to battle he observes and photographs the atrocities of mass murders of the people of Nanjing. He is captured by the Japanese, tortured when his confiscated camera reveals his terrifying photographs, and it is only by acts of fortune and the aid of a Chinese Nationalist Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat) that he escapes. Hogg probes the Chinese countryside for further evidences of the evil of the Japanese invasion, and he finds a village of children (adults are all absent) and realizes that he is in an orphanage without a leader. At first reluctant to assume the role of guardian of these impoverished and filthy frightened children, he soon accepts his responsibility and is challenged by an Australian nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell) to become not only the caretaker but also the father/teacher/provider/role model these children so desperately need.

Seeing the advancing of the Japanese, Hogg decides to take his wards 700 mile away to a small village by the Gobi desert reachable only by the infamous Silk Road. It is this journey and the way both the children and Hogg are affected by the challenge that absorb the greater part of the film. Observing the transformation of George Hogg's view of the world is made credible by Jonathan Rhys Meyers' performance. The cast of children often steals the limelight, but with supporting cast members such as Chow Yun-Fat, Radha Mitchell and Michelle Yeoh as an opium merchant the story never lacks color and character. The look of the film is dark, but the message of this story is full of light. Here is a bit of Chinese history we should all know! Grady Harp, January 09
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Movie too short Aug. 13 2009
By Jane W. Elioseff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
At two hours in length, this beautifully photographed biographical film is still not long enough to flesh out the underlying story we are encouraged to imagine. The movie makes a good companion piece to The Last Emperor, as a record of pre-WWII China. But I do not know of a movie that fills in the psychology of the starving boys orphaned and raised wild by older boys -- their dreams, their fears, their codes of honor. The civilizing work of George Hogg and his allies, and its unexpected consequences, amount to another movie within a movie. And then there is the arduous long trek through mountains and out into the high Gobi desert, which tells yet another story of courage and perseverance that could have been expanded to satisfy my curiosity about the journey. How many animals did they lose along the way? Did their provisions last? Did the vegetable seeds and rice and grain they took with them do as well in sand as in the lowland mud?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Self-Sacrifice Can Be Transformative Jan. 31 2009
By D. HupFons - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film is about a little known story of the exploits of British journalist George Hogg during the Japanese occupation of China in 1937.

The cast is excellent with very good performances by Michelle Yeoh, Radha Mitchell, Chow Yun-Fat & Jonathan Rhys Meyers. An evocative musical score and some gorgeous cinematography of the wilds of Tibet combine to make this a treat to behold.

During the first 25 minutes or so of the story, it appears that the film will be an action thriller, but the "heart" of the story reveals the transformative power of self-sacrifice & caring in a hostile political and physical environment. It is an amazing story.
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