Escape From Huang Shi (DVD)

Escape From Huang Shi DVDEscape From Huang Shi is (loosely) based on true events that took place during World War II. It tells the story of George Hogg, an English journalist who travels to war-torn China in search of a headline making story. What he finds he was never prepared for. After barely escaping the Japanese massacre of hundreds of innocent men, women and children, Hogg sets off on a quest to lead 60 orphaned children across the treacherous Silk Road. Thrown together in Hogg's journey are American nurse Lee Pearson, played by Radha Mitchell, and Chow Yun Fat's resistance fighter Chen Hansheng.

Filmed on location in China and Australia, with stunning visuals from director of photography Zhao Xiaoding (House of Flying Daggers) and the design team of Steven Jones Evans (Ned Kelly) and Huang Xinming (Hero), Escape from Huang Shi is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Sadly that may be the films only plus point Whilst the film looks epic, capturing both the grandeur of the locations and the horrors of war, the less said about the script the better. With very little character development and relying heavily on well-worn racial stereotypes, the highly predictable script does nothing to engage the viewer and make you feel for the characters involved. Director Spottiswoode is also let down by his cast: Rhys Meyers is as wooden as ever, whilst Radha Mitchell couldn't maintain an American accent if her life depended on it. The only bright stars in this acting debacle are Chow Yun Fat, who brings an air of dignity to his resistance leader, and Michelle Yeoh, whose all too brief appearance upstages Rhys Meyers at every turn.

What is most disappointing about this film is that 'Hollywood' has again re-written history, and the "true story" aspect of Escape from Huang Shi should be taken with a pinch of salt; there are two key characters in the true story of Huang Shi that are completely missing from the film! You would be best served spending the time you would waste watching this film, reading about the real Silk Road crossing. But if you really want to watch a historical rescue drama, go out and rent The Inn of Sixth Happiness instead...

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Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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