Movie Review: The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

tcohs poster

The Children of Huang Shi is a biopic or based on fact film about a British journalist, George Hogg, who battled his own wars in an effort to save a group of Chinese orphans during the Japanese invasion of China. Saying it was just an “effort” must be an understatement, as he endeavoured to take them across China towards the Gobi dessert (some 700 miles away) as the war-stricken zones expanded. Protecting the innocent turns into desperation to save them — as they would be subject to conscription by Chinese Nationalists to fight the Japanese. The film proves well in depicting an emotional journey, a humanitarian story and unique perspective of war.



“The Children of Huang Shi” a story of eastern “Schindler’s List” (problogs)

“About young British journalist, George Hogg, who with the assistance of a courageous Australian nurse, saves a group of orphaned children during the Japanese occupation of China in 1937. ” (IMDb)


Mixed reviews come largely from two views: first being that the film is beautiful yet boring (lacking dramatic tension) — which to me just says a political & war drama with a humanitarian story at the core is not always “for” everyone. Secondly, some misrepresentations of facts by way of leaving out a character — which I say is a justified argument. All in all, the film aims to tug on your heart strings by showing just how much a person can really do — to make a difference. The star-studded cast, and their performances, hold up against the magnitude of the true-story and historical importance and are the cherry-on-top element to this epic film and story of war-ravaged China.

Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode

Cast: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers // Radha Mitchell // Chow Yun-fat // Michelle Yeoh // Guang Li

Reviews: Political Film Society // Metacritic // Rotten Tomatoes // NY Times

aparoo’s words: drama, war, human, China, Japan, Sino-Japanese War, WW2, orphans, innocent, rebellion, Nationalists, invasion, survival

aparoo facts: the film is largely in English with some Chinese & Japanese language

aparoo facts: the film is a production between USA, China, Germany & Australia

aparoo says 4/5

Official Website

Official stills

Alternative posters

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Movie Review: The Message (2009) – Chinese Movie

the message cover

The Message (Feng Sheng) is an espionage-thriller set in a Japanese-invaded China during WW2 that depicts intelligence warfare between government and resistance. The Japanese-controlled puppet government faces casualties by way of assassinations orchestrated by resistance spies, thus a Commander uses the tactic of ‘feeding the mole’ to weed the spy out. The task of sending out false intel and tracing it is the easy part, as the film focuses on the confinement and interrogation of suspects. A little psychological cat-and-mouse play quickly becomes gruesome torture in order to uncover a guilty confession. The movie definitely makes you question characters and relationships as the stars pull off a unique ensemble.

Tension is high throughout as the amount of apparent ‘sides’ is unclear when comrade-suspects are pitted against each other. Lines quickly blur and clues or assumed clues add to the confusion. But it’s an enjoyable confusion. Whoever the code-breaking spy is also has to send out a message about the predicament without being compromised — or killed. The antagonizing and evil Commander and his Chinese underling do everything in their power and everything imaginable (or unimaginable) to pin the tail on the donkey. The Message is engaging and explicitly powerful in showing duress vs. integrity. It tried a bit hard when it comes to being eerie and dark ie. haunted mansion or animated evil villains but is entertaining even with over the top elements. More so, there’s a good chance viewer suspicions will get ahead of themselves for better or worse.

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Directed by: Qunshu Gao // Kuo-fu Chen

Starring: Xun Zhou //Hanyu Zhang // Bingbing Li // Xiaoming Huang // Zhiwen Wang

Reviews: CN Reviews // Love HK Film // Twitch // Variety // Opionator

aparoo recommends: Lust, Caution — another entertaining espionage-thriller

aparoo’s words: espionage, thriller, drama, spies, government, resistance, war, invasion, torture

aparoo says 4/5

Download: Asia Torrents

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Movie Review: Goodbye, Mr. Cool (2001) – Hong Kong Movie

good bye mr cool poster 2

Ekin Cheng as a triad, must be a Young & Dangerous movie right? Wrong. Although this was somehow included in my Y&D box set (original series + spin offs), Goodbye, Mr. Cool is not a Y&D spin off and only related to the series because it’s in the triad genre. The cool thing is that his character in this movie, Dragon, is an easy sell as an extension of his infamous Chan Ho Nam character in Y&D, so in that right I’ll call it an indirect spinerama-off.

good bye mr cool ekin cheng

Plus, a bunch of Y&D cast in another triad movies doesn’t leave many possible conclusions to draw on. But NO, this movie is really nothing compared to Andrew Lau‘s cult favourite in Y&D. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a Y&D or triad rip-off, just another triad movie (for better or worse). Whether you’re stuck comparing it with Y&D or not, you will make note of the flashy style, overwriting and underwhelming melodrama. The story or should I say themes that follow Ekin’s character along are evident and quite pleasant, they just don’t pull the trigger and fall short.

good bye mr cool karen mok 2

Goodbye, Mr. Cool follows the standard gangster formula of an ex-gangster trying to make a new life for their self and being swayed back towards the underworld. This movie does add a few more layers like the force of his ex-girlfriend, a potential love interest and the son he never knew. Everything builds up quite nicely but seems to unravel a bit as it’s all supposed to come together. Maybe less really is more. All in all, it’s an enjoyable good/evil, redemption, second chance, triad movie.

Scene compilation video

English poster

Reviews: BRNS // Love HK Film // Rotten Tomatoes

Lee Choi-Wah

Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Rain Li Choi-Wah, Stephanie Che Yuen-Yuen, Jackie Lui Chung-Yin, Chapman To Man-Chat, Lam Suet

Director: Jingle Ma Chor-Sing

aparoo’s words: triad, gangster, underworld, second chance, new life, redemption, start-over, past

aparoo says 3/5

Stream: YouTube (no English subs)

Photo credit: Google Image Search