The Children of Huang Shi, a dramatized (and somewhat fictionalized) take on the true story of George Hogg, a young British adventurer who arrived in China during the brutal Japanese invasion and occupation of 1937 and became the protector of a group of orphans abandoned to the war, is released this week. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, the China-Australia-Germany co-production, shot in China and Australia, stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Hogg, a real Renaissance man and something of a saint, and co-stars Radha Mitchell, Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh.
The script sketches out the politics of war-torn China and the underground activities of black-market operators (including a regal turn by Michelle Yeoh), and even gives us an American nurse (Radha Mitchell) with a guerrilla approach to her job, but mostly it leans on sentiment and children in peril for its drama.
For all that, it is an affecting portrait and a strong story with a compelling backdrop, and Chinese cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao (“Curse of the Golden Flower”) makes the gorgeous locations look magnificent. What Spottiswoode lacks in subtlety and restraint, he balances with a heartfelt passion for the material.
Read the complete review here.