Not a block buster at the box office, but a well directed film by Roger Spottiswoode. It vividly portrays the difficult life the Chinese endured just before the Second World War after they were invaded by the Japanese, with a country already in conflict through civil war; and how outsiders (English and American) helped a struggling people. In this case a bunch of unruly orphans helped by an English journilist called George Hogg, played superbly by Jonathon Rhys Meyers, backed up by two brilliant supporting actors, Radha Mitchell and Chow Yun Fat. It is based on a true story and is sensitively handled with attention to detail. Well worth watching!
I really enjoyed this film and think it is seriously underrated. It has stunning scenery and great atmosphere. I personally think it is one of JRM's best performances in a film as he seems so relaxed and totally absorbs the character of George Hogg. It is a true story from the 1930's and gets under your skin (well it did mine anyway). If you like gung ho shoot out films with blood, gore and swearing - then this is not for you! But if you enjoy beautiful cinematography, great acting and an amazing story of human determination with a sprinkling of humour, then you will really enjoy this film. At the end, some of the children that Hogg saved (now elderly) give their own tributes to George Hogg - very touching!
I cannot put my finger on what was lacking in the film, maybe it was the writing or perhaps the lead performance, I am not certain at all. Johnathon Rhys Meyers is solid if not spectacular in the lead role, and the supporting cast all do a solid job, even the chinese child actors. The story is set to the backdrop of undeclared war in china. It is a warzone and the main cast are just trying to survive and excape the conflict. Inspired by true events, I do not know how acurate it is but what research I have done since suggests the events to be accurate if not all the characters. What George hogg does is amazing and deserves the recognition this film gives, however in someways I wonder if the film could have spent more time dealing with the 3 month trek with the children, it is a little rushed in the movie, you may believe it is just a few days until someone actually says it has been three months. I also think the ending seemed a little rushed, that said the running time would have just gone on and on. Well worth checking out.
Of all the major political/military outrages of the Twentieth Century, the Japanese "Rape of Nanking" in the mid-1930s is perhaps one of the least well known, at least in the West. This modest epic is the story of how a young British journalist unwittingly and unwillingly finds himself leading an orphanage full of Chinese boys westward to safety from the ruthless advancing Japanese troops. The film is not flashy or hard hitting, but it's well written, directed and acted, as well as lovely to look at in a restrained way.