The first time I heard about the premise of the film, one thoughtpopped into my head: "The Sound of Music". The real thing was muchworse.
Many questions haunted me throughout the film, all starting with: Why?Why did the initial description already show an erroneous grasp ofhistory? (The Japanese took control of Shanghai, and then went on toNanjing, all as part of a single campaign. Not many reporters tried torush into Nanjing. In fact, many could not get out, which was why theycould report what happened.) Why was Meyers' acting in the initialscenes so bad? Why would someone (Fisher, I think his name was) goboxing, and let others punch him in the face repeatedly, a few daysbefore his own wedding? Why was the one scene of the massacre done sobadly that it failed to evoke any emotion? Why was the beheadingcontest by the Japanese, reported as "The Hundred Beheadings" in theJapanese newspapers, in Nanjing not mentioned at all? Why were theCommunists in Nanjing? (The city was a Nationalist stronghold, and theCommunist had no military presence in town before, during and after themassacre. Communist attacks on the Japanese army during WW2, few andfar between as they were, took place largely in the countryside. TheCommunists were busy expanding their bases of support with the farmersand peasants. They were conserving their strengths and letting theNationalists (i.e. someone else, who happens to be their mortalenemies) do most of the fighting.) Why were they growing sunflowers,when everyone was short of food? Why did they have fuel to run thegenerator? Why do the uniforms of the Nationalist army look exactlylike those of the Japanese Imperial Army? (The Nationalist armyuniforms were gray.) Why would the caravan encounter Japanese armypersonnel going "the other way" near Lanzhou? (The Japanese only wishedthey got that far inland.) Why would Chen (Chow Yun Fat) waste threebullets to salute Shi Kai, and risk attracting attention? (These areChinese people, not westerners.) Why did the film title really mean"Escape from Huangshi (and from the Nationalist for fear ofconscription)"? Why did the uniforms of the police in Lanzhou look justlike those of the police in Shanghai? (Shanghai police's uniforms wereunique. The writers probably assumed police uniforms in China in the1930's were like those in USA/Oz today, the same across the country.)Why would the officials in a poor town like Lanzhou just give away (notlend, but give away) four trucks which must be valuable assets of thelocal government? Why did none of the livestock get eaten throughoutthe whole journey? (As some guy near me commented out loud) Why wasChow Yun Fat just walking around and dropping in on the children oncein a while? Why was Chow Yun Fat free to roam all the way over inLanzhou, when all the fighting was in central and eastern China? Whydid none of the kids have any personality? (They might as well havebeen cut out of cardboards. But maybe the writers got it right byaccidence, since Chinese kids are mostly compliant like this.) Why wasthis in the end just another film about two westerners, with Chinalargely the backdrop? Why was this film directed so badly that I feltnothing for any of the main characters at all? Why would anyone allowscriptwriters who don't really know Chinese history or the Chineseframe of mind to write a script and waste money like this?
Children of Hueng Shi (2008) **1/2
Caught this one a little while ago. I was a bit disappointed, though iwasn't really expecting too much I suppose to begin with. The storyfollows the true adventures of British journalist George Hogg duringWWII in China, who witnessed atrocities at the hands of Imperial Japan.Hogg eventually ends up at a school, where he reluctantly, of course,becomes attached to the children. Hogg, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers,along with the help of an Austrailian Nurse (Mitchell) and a ChineseCommunist (Yun-Fat) leads sixty children on a thousand mile journeyacross China's mountains to safety, away from invading Japanese forces.
The technical quality of the film-making is solid - as is to beexpected from Spottiswoode. However, it also carries the usualSpottiswoode flaws - namely more expositional dialogue than you canshake a stick at and convenient contrivances throughout. I enjoyedSpottiswoode's previous film, the far superior Shake Hands with theDevil (which itself it not without his usual faults), but I justcouldn't get into this one. The dialogue is too heavy handed and halfof it is dedicated to delivering a history lesson. Spottiswoode'sdesire to inform is certainly admirable, and the story and thebackground history certainly are worthy of telling. Nevertheless,attempting to deliver both in depth is a recipe for failure. The actingis for the most part fine: Yun-Fat delivers a fine performance, as doesRhys-Meyers, who I think someday will likely deliver an amazingrendering of a psychopath (the eyes!). Overall, I can't quite recommendit, and my review may be slightly off as I don't remember it very well(which may actually justify my review). I wouldn't however tell you toavoid it. I'll probably rewatch it someday myself just to see how thisreview stacks up.
I just saw this in the theater and was REALLY looking forward to seeingit with the GREAT Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, but although thescenery and large amount of money spent in making this, the film stillfalls flat. I am sure many people like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but thisguy CANNOT act to save his life!!!!!!!! Another reviewer thought thatRadha Mitchell was wooden, but I didn't mind her performance althoughher Aussie occasionally slipped in. Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh'sperformances, while fun to watch, seemed a bit "phoned in", althoughthe supporting cast of children wasn't too bad. The script was very,very weak and there were a couple of times when they had the Japanesefighter planes strafing the ground that you could DEFINITELY tell thatthey were squibs and did NOT come off as genuine bullets hitting theground (too much spark and flash). Overall, really sad considering thetime and effort that went into making this film. I likely WON'T pickthis one up on DVD unless it's really cheap.User: john_gormican
Strange film, felt like a made for TV movie. It’s supposed to be set in1937 but looks more like 2007. The acting is one-dimensional and lazyat best.
Couldn’t help laughing at an English guy wanting to teach basketballinstead of cricket or soccer. Seems like an attempt to curry favor withChinas fad of basketball.Then things change down a gear when it becomesa road movie. I thought the children were the worst thing in the movie,they made it almost unwatchable.
At the end of the movie, I felt as if