Movie Details

ESCAPE FROM HUANG SHI

Sixty orphaned Chinese boys attempt a perilous journey across the Liu Pan Shan mountains into the Mongolian desert to escape the Japanese invasion. Leading them is a young Englishman named George Hogg (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) with the help of Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat), the leader of a Chinese partisan group; Lee (Radha Mitchell), an Australian woman who provides medical assistance; and Madame Wang (Michelle Yeoh), an aristrocrat also fleeing for her life.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 10 Apr 2008
Genre: Drama / War / Historical
Running Time: 1 Hour 48 Minutes
Distributor: SHAW ORGANIZATION
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, Radha Mitchell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Director:
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

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Watch this if you liked: "Assembly", "A Very Long Engagement"

Michelle Yeoh a drug dealer? Radha Mitchell a hot Aussie nurse? Chow Yun Fat a sharp-talking communist? The Rape Of Nanking never seemed more commercial than it does in "Escape From Huang Shi". Casual explanations, often partisan though not offensive, are given to found the plot for the epic. Yet, "Escape" has managed to do just that - escape from the formulaic tedium of war epics to concentrate on the more human story of young orphans who were saved by an outstanding Englishman during the Japanese occupation in China.

This side of the world where the Chinese diaspora is only in their fourth or fifth generation, that corresponding WWII horror still applies to whoever remembers stories from their elders about the Japanese in Malaysia. It is perhaps a little sad that the regional decision makers have decided to rename "Children Of Huang Shi" (by which it is known internationally) to "Escape From" under the pretext of perhaps selling it as an action movie. Idealistically speaking, it cheapens the plight of George Hogg and his sixty-something orphans who must have shown more courage in braving the cold mountains than studio people who have to resort to such measures to make a little more.

On the film proper, "Escape From Huang Shi" sure manages to escape the obligation of adding depth to its characters. People like Chow Yun Fat's faction leader and Michelle Yeoh's opium dealer are only briefly explored; yet you feel that director Roger Spottiswoode intended it exactly so. It is the interaction between George Hogg and the wee ones, together with the luscious photography of China, that makes "Escape From Huang Shi" an honest movie that doesn't ask too much from the viewer.

Of course, as censorship issues remain unsettled, we will forever be left wondering what was it exactly that was cut when the credits had the real-life children (now elderly men) talking about Hogg fondly. Something too politically provocative for Malaysians, perhaps? There must also be a Radha Mitchell sex scene somewhere but all that isn't really important now.

While lecturing the six-foot Oxford graduate, a single Chow Yun Fat line about The Bitter Sea and how the Chinese people see themselves was already worth the watch. With solid performances all round, "Escape From Huang Shi" might scratch when it should have cut. However the bruises still told the tale and there is enough dirt on Jonathan Rhys Meyers' pretty face to believe that it was all real.

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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