People thrown into an unexpected and desperate situation discover their capacity for love and responsibility. A young Englishman, George Hogg, comes to lead sixty orphaned boys on a journey of over 500 perilous miles across the snow-bound Liu Pan Shan mountains to safety on the edge of the Mongolian desert. And how, in doing so, he comes to understand the meaning of courage. During his journey, Hogg learns to rely on the support of Chen, the leader of a Chinese communist partisan group who becomes his closest friend. He soon finds himself falling in love with Lee, a recklessly brave Australian nurse whom war has turned into an unsentimental healer on horseback. Along the way Hogg befriends Madame Wang, an aristocratic survivor who has also been displaced by war, who helps the young Englishman, his friends and their sixty war orphans make their way across mountain and desert regions to a place of safety near the western end of the Great Wall of China.Written by
When Hogg photographs the Japanese soldiers rounding up the Chinese civilians from the first floor window overlooking the scene, many of the shots, and the black & white prints later produced by the Japanese officer are clearly taken with a telephoto lens. Hogg's range finder 35mm camera was not fitted with a telephoto lens. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. It is difficult to imagine a more powerful, emotional story than the real life heroism of George Hogg. He was a British journalist who truly saved the life and dreams of 60 war Chinese war orphans during the 1937 invasion by Japan.
The good news is that the story is remarkable, but the downside is how director Roger Spottiswoode ("Tomorrow Never Dies", "Turner and Hooch") is stuck with two miscast leads. Jonathan Rhys Meyers doesn't have the chops to pull off strength of Hogg and much worse is the downright horrible performance of Radha Mitchell as Lee, the war hardened do-gooder. The combination of these two severely weaken the film, but luckily not the story.
Chow Yun-Fat and the great Michelle Yeoh play important supporting roles and both are excellent in their English speaking parts. Both are masters at letting simple facial gestures express the bulk of their thoughts. The children in the film are a pleasure to watch, though, we really don't connect with any of them.
Some of the landscape is beautifully film and Spottiswoode does a good job of portraying the hardships of the 700 mile Silk Road journey, without it dragging the pace down. Again, the power of this story is unmistakable, but it is certainly not given its due by this rendition. Make sure to stay for the credits as we are treated to first hand memories of some of the surviving children (now very adavanced in age, but extremely lucid).
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