DRAMA; 2hr 5min
STARRING: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Radha Mitchell
The long march: Mitchell and Meyers
In the 1930s, Japanese-occupied China is rent by civil war. English journalist George Hogg (Meyers, striving mightily to evolve from scrawny pup to beneficent saviour) is assigned to cover the conflict in director Roger Spottiswoode’s factually driven saga. After mishap compounds mishap, Hogg lands in an isolated orphanage of feral boys. It’s not his choice — but through a convergence of chance and circumstance, it’s exactly what he needs. Hogg takes the boys in hand, sets the dilapidated place to rights and when the children are threatened with conscription, he, American nurse Lee Pearson (Mitchell) and Chinese rebel “Jack” Chen (Chow Yun Fat) take them across China to the western edge of the Gobi Desert, and safety.
Such a monumental schlep — 60 kids over hundreds of kilometres — is an enormous undertaking for Spottiswoode and his troops, who braved the rigours of location shooting for the stamp of authenticity. Their generous homage to Hogg’s altruism and pluck starts out as something of a hambone but soars on Zhao Xiaoding’s bewitching cinematography and the spirit of the man himself.