| This moving and powerful human interest story is based on the life of George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers from "August Rush" and "Match Point"), a young, inexperienced British journalist covering the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.
Posing as a Red Cross worker, Hogg is able to witness unspeakable acts of violence in Nanking. He gets shot and is saved by "Jack" Chen (Chow Yun-Fat from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Curse of the Golden Flower"), a Chinese demolitions expert and leader of an underground resistance movement. His wounds are tended to by Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell from "Finding Neverland" and "Melinda and Melinda"), a courageous American nurse.
While convalescing, Hogg is sent to an orphanage in the countryside occupied by 60 boys. He becomes their teacher and trusted friend. He ultimately leads them like Moses to safety.
Their 700-mile trek along the Silk Road (the link between East and West previously traversed by Marco Polo) through the mountains to the edge of the Gobi Desert is the cornerstone of the movie. The breathtaking scenery and nail-biting suspense make this remarkable journey unforgettable.
This relatively unknown humanitarian is from the same mold as Oskar Schindler. There are many correlations to "Schindler's List" in a similar Holocaust perpetrated on innocent Chinese civilians by invading Japanese troops.
Roger Spottiswoode ("Tomorrow Never Dies") helmed this compelling war-time drama. He deserves kudos for focusing on these young boys and their relationship with a Westerner who went above and beyond investigative journalism to save their lives.
You develop a compassionate, caring and protective bond with these kids.
This movie was a massive undertaking. Besides a great screenplay, production values and gold-plated acting, this quality film benefits from the efforts of two masters at their craft. It was brilliantly shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao ("House of Flying Daggers" and "Curse of the Golden Flower"). The outstanding original musical score by Oscar-nominated composer David Hirschfelder ("Elizabeth" and "Shine") utilizes traditional Asian instruments to produce inspirational orchestral rhythms.
This movie will remind you of "The Painted Veil" and "Cider House Rules." You may want to have tissues ready for the tearjerker ending.
Be sure to stay for the rolling credits where many of the children (now senior citizens) recount their memories of Hogg.
The dialogue is partially in Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles.
Opening exclusively at Cinemark Palace on the Plaza.
Review by Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"