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The Children of Huang Shi

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Experience the true story of British journalist George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who snuck across enemy lines in 1937 to expose the Japanese occupation of China. After capture and injury, a Chinese resistance leader, Chen (Chow Yun Fat), had to rescue and send him to hide in a remote orphanage. Now in this foreign land of lost children, far away from the front lines, he's found more stories than he could have ever dreamed. From his true love of an Australian nurse (Radha Mitchell), to his timeless friendships with Chen and the orphans, Hogg discovers a rare courage and the true pleasures of life in the unlikely sanctum of Huang Shi.

The Children of Huang Shi is a powerful, inspiring film about a real-life, outsider hero who emerged from Japan's catastrophic invasion of China in 1937. A British journalist, George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) sneaks into Nanjing at the height of Japan's destruction of that cosmopolitan city. Rescued from certain death by a suave rebel named Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat), Hogg goes deep into China's countryside in search of another front to the war. Instead of furthering his career, however, Hogg is talked into taking control of a destitute orphanage occupied by starving, lice-ridden, half-savage boys. A roving nurse, Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), keeps Hogg focused on his task, provides him with medical supplies, and ultimately becomes his lover. But the former reporter has to figure many things out on his own, including how to inspire the boys to help fend for themselves.

With the Japanese closing in on the orphanage and the Chinese looking at the boys as likely soldiers, Hogg, Pearson, and Hansheng lead the kids on an extraordinarily strenuous, 700-mile hike to Marco Polo's so-called Silk Road, leading to the Gobi Desert. The second half of The Children of Huang Shi is taken up by this sometimes deadly labor, and director Roger Spottiswoode balances the dreariness of it with knockout images of mountains and eerie, desert vistas. The multi-national cast is the best thing about the film, which avoids canonizing the saintly Hogg by not ignoring his sins of pride (he refers to the kids as "my boys" to the wrong Chinese authority, and pays the price) and jealousy. Chow's jaunty persona adds an essential swagger to this Schindler's List-like story, but it's Mitchell's gritty, soul-weary performance that really grabs one's attention. --Tom Keogh

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell, Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Guang Li
  • Directors: Roger Spottiswoode
  • Writers: James MacManus, Jane Hawksley, Simon van der Borgh
  • Producers: Alan D. Lee, Arthur Cohn, James MacManus, Jonathan Shteinman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 20, 2009
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,474 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Children of Huang Shi" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Flight Risk (The Gypsy Moth) VINE VOICE on April 22, 2008
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.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jlo1 on July 13, 2008
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 23, 2009
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.
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