George Hogg aka Huang Shi (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), fearing that the children at his orphanage will be conscripted by Chinese Nationalists who are fighting off the Japanese, leads 60 children on a 3-month, 700 mile trek through the mountains and the Mongolian desert, mostly on foot. They arrive at their destination where they intend to create a new orphanage, but Hogg dies of tetanus shortly after arriving. Lee (Radha Mitchell) stays to continue his work.
The film closes with interviews with the real surviving orphans, including 3 of the boys he adopted.
Thanks Mary C!