Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Children of the Silk Road: Movie Review

Children of the Silk Road: Movie Review

Rating 6/10
Cast: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
When a film's inspired by true events, there's always a nagging feeling that it'll fall heavily into the dull but worthy category.
Roger Spottiswoode's Children of the Silk Road is the true story of a British journalist George Hogg (played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who conned his way across the Chinese border during the Japanese occupation of 1937.
Despite being told of the dangers of doing so, Hogg gets through by pretending to be the Red Cross.
However, within minutes, he witnesses a massacre and is caught, camera in hand, by the Japanese.
Freed by Chen (Chow Yun Fat) a leader of a Chinese group, he's taken to a monastery where he discovers around 60 orphaned boys and a travelling nurse, Lee (Radha Mitchell).
Tasked with the role of taking the kids under his wing, he grudgingly accepts and ends up winning their respect and friendship.
But, as the occupation grows tighter, Hogg realises the only way to keep them safe is to take them across the Liu Pan Shan mountains to a new life.
Children of the Silk Road isn't a bad epic - and epic it is, as it takes a while to warm up after the initial brutality.
Rhys Meyers portrays Hogg well - making him initially selfish and reticent to look after the orphans but ultimately gaining their respect (a la Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society).
His relationship with Radha Mitchell's Lee is given time to build up and develops a tenderness which makes the ending more plausible and heart breaking for the pair.
Both Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat give the film more of a sense of reality with their characters and there are some pretty harrowing moments during the whole film.
But there are a couple of lulls as we watch the orphans get ready to leave although that's countered by the tension when the convoy's stopped close to the mountains.

Ultimately, the Children of the Silk Road is a film about a triumph over adversity - however, some people will feel it borders more in the overly long and dull but worthy category; some will find it inspiring - particularly at the end when pupils of Hogg's teachings appear over the end credits to extol the virtues of their former mentor.

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