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The Children of Huang Shi

Based on a true story of hope and survival.

A little-known true story is sensitively brought to the screen in The Children Of Huang Shi, which is about the rescue of 60 Chinese children orphaned by war. George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) arrives in Shanghai from England in 1938 just as the Japanese are taking control and enlists as a war correspondent. In occupied Nanjing he witnesses the massacre of 200 Chinese and is about to be executed himself when guerrillas led by 'Jack' Chen (Chow Yun Fat) come to the rescue. Wounded, George ends up recuperating in a rundown children's orphanage in rural Huang Shi. The boys are slow to warm to him, but eventually he becomes their champion. He has an occasional accomplice in American nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), who was once Jack Chen's lover. With the Japanese poised to advance and Chinese nationals on the prowl for young recruits, George decides to trek the entire brood to a safe village in the faraway Gobi desert. This may sound like the kind of implicitly condescending Great White Father saga in which Hollywood specializes. But the story is true, and director Roger Spottiswoode never depicts the Chinese as anything less than George's equals. The movie may be a heavy dose of inspirationalism, but it never preaches. We don't need to be told that these events actually took place because everything in it makes human sense (except, perhaps, the fact that George is immaculately clean-shaven throughout). Spottiswoode – who directed the great political film Under Fire as well as last year's Shake Hands With The Devil – is a vastly underrated director who often is at his best with large-scale political subjects; The Children Of Huang Shi radiates intelligence. Of how many historical epics can that be said these days? – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
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Directed by: 
Roger Spottiswoode
Running Time: 
English with some Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Radha Mitchell
Screenplay by: 
Jane Hawksley, James MacManus

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