25% on Rotten Tomatoes? What went wrong? I thought Children of Huang Shi was actually good, so good that I left the theater satisfied, nearly spilling man-tears along the seats. It is probably one of three movies of all-time I can say I would watch again and enjoy, yet most of the critics are complaining either that the characters are cookie-cutter or that it was sitting backseat to something much bigger (the Japanese invasion, obviously).
Considering this is a movie centered around kids in World War II, of course the war takes a back seat! You can tell the actors worked hard to get subtleties across: from the slowly approving fluency in Cantonese/Mandarin that Mr. Hogg to the unrequited affection you see between him and Mrs. Wang. Yes, there are a few traditional avenues to the plot that could be snipped off, but the cinematography alone justifies the film, especially when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull garnered over 70% for a fairly tepid movie.
Don’t take my word for this though, go see it yourself. I saw it at the Landmark Cinema on Houston, but it’s also playing at the Paris Theater on West 58th. Do not let the critics dissuade you from a good movie!