The Crossing (2014 film)

The Crossing (Chinese: 太平轮) is a two-part 2014 Chinese-Hong Kong epic historical romance-war drama (part 1) and disaster film (part 2) directed by John Woo and written by Hui-Ling Wang.[4] The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Masami Nagasawa.[4] The film is based on the sinking of the steamer "Taiping" in 1949.[2] The incident led to the deaths of over 1,500 passengers and crew. The film's first part was released in China on December 2, 2014. Part two was released on July 30, 2015.[5]

The Crossing
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Woo
Produced byTerence Chang
Written by
  • John Woo
  • Su Chao-pin
  • Chen Ching-hui
StarringZhang Ziyi
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Song Hye-kyo
Huang Xiaoming
Tong Dawei
Masami Nagasawa
Music byTaro Iwashiro
CinematographyZhao Fei
Edited byJohn Woo
Kai Kit-Wai
David Wu
Beijing Gallop Horse Film
Le Vision Pictures
China Film Group Corporation
Huayi Brothers
Yoozoo Entertainment
Beijing Cultural & Creative Industry Investment Fund Management
Dongyang Mighty Allies Movie & Culture
Huace Pictures (Tianjin)
Beijing Phenom Films
China Movie Channel
Galloping Horse Culture & Media
Lion Rock Productions[1]
Release date
  • December 2, 2014 (2014-12-02) (Part I)
  • July 30, 2015 (2015-07-30) (Part II)
Running time
128 minutes[1]
Hong Kong[1]
BudgetUS$48.6 million[2]
Box officeUS$32.4 million (part 1)[3]


Part 1:

In a battle between the Chinese National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army in Manchuria during World War II, Major general Lei Yifang (Huang Xiaoming) personally leads an attack over the objections of his subordinates. The charge overruns Japanese lines and wins the day. On the Japanese side, Dr. Yen Zekun (Takeshi Kaneshiro), an ethnic Chinese field medic conscripted from then-Japanese Taiwan, is knocked out with a rifle butt and captured. Lei is promoted to lieutenant general and inducted into the Order of the Cloud and Banner with Special Cravat, while Dr. Yen is shipped off to a prison camp in Fengtian. On the POW train, Yen reads a letter from his Japanese paramour Masako (Masami Nagasawa).

A few years later during the resumption of the Chinese Civil War, Yu Zhen (Zhang Ziyi), a poor, illiterate young woman volunteers as an orderly at a Nationalist hospital in Shanghai in exchange for two meals a day. She dreams of reuniting with her boyfriend Yang Tianhu, who is off fighting the Communists. Meanwhile, General Lei catches the eye of wealthy debutante Zhou Yunfen (Song Hye-kyo) as she plays piano for an orphan's choir at a charity event put on by her father Zhou Zhongding and mother Yuan Shenglan. Despite her mother's warnings not to accept the attention of soldiers, she dances with Lei, their chemistry obvious for the entire room to see.

Lei takes Zhou horseback riding, and even lets her try driving his jeep. She weaves through the trees and gets into a minor crash with a fence, after which they share their first kiss. Months pass, and they get married.

The next year, Yu Zhen meets signal corps Captain Tong Daqing outside of the same photography studio Lei and Zhou used for their wedding. Captain Tong has hired Yu and a borrowed baby to have a photograph taken together as a family as proof of marriage, which would provide his parents at home with more food rations. After they take the photos, a student anti-war protest in front of the studio is violently dispersed by police and soldiers. During the chaos, Dr. Yen enters the photography studio, presents separate photos of himself and Masako, and asks the proprietor to create an altered photo that will make it look like he and her were in a photo together.

Tong and Yu take refuge in a noodle shop, where Tong talks about why he joined the army and is charmed by the way Yu cleans his chopsticks and seasons his food for him. Yu asks about the Republic of China Army's soldier identification numbers. Tong tells her that as long as she knows his ID number, she will be able to find him, dead or alive. She smiles, thinking of her lover, but Tong misinterprets this as her having feelings for him. Tong, late for his departure, boards a truck with the rest of his unit and tells Yu to memorize his unit number. Yu returns to the photography studio and orders a copy of the picture of her with Tong and "their" baby. When she returns to the hospital, she asks a stretcher bearer if he's ever seen someone from the 7th Division, her boyfriend's command. While unsure, he does tell her that most of the wounded have been sent to the province of Taiwan, now restored to the Republic of China (1912–1949).

Zhou, now pregnant, complains to General Lei that she is unable to get started on composing a song for him. She also has reservations about his plans to send her away to Taiwan. He quiets her fears, though she asks him not to see her off out of superstition. Zhou's parents see her and her sister off on the Taiping, along with many of Shanghai's elite, as Yu inquires at the ticket counter about the price of a one-way fare to Taiwan and finds out that the rate is already high and climbing daily. Zhou has her cousin take a picture of her, capturing Lei in the background as he has come in secret to watch her departure before he leaves for the front.

Captain Tong is admiring his 'family portrait' when his fellow troops notice how pretty his 'wife' is. They pass the photo around and listen, rapt as Tong spins yarns about Yu. Meanwhile, Yu struggles to get employment and is seen eating discarded fruit and sleeping under a bridge.

Dr. Yen, who was on the Taiping with the Zhou sisters, disembarks with them at the Port of Keelung in Taiwan, where they are greeted with a military band and Nationalist flags lining the streets. He explains to an official that he was in Shanghai procuring medical supplies for his practice. The official, seeing that he is a native of Taiwan, asks where Yen learned the Guānhuà he is conversing in instead of the local language, Taiwanese Hokkien. After the questioning, Yen meets his brother and returns to his family home. His mother, a midwife, is burning letters sent to Yen by Masako. Zhou arrives at a Japanese-style estate, where she is welcomed by A-man, the Taiwanese maid. She starts to pen a letter to her husband.

Yu enters a boardinghouse in Shanghai. The landlady isn't looking to rent to single women, but Yu says she is married using the photo of her and Captain Tong as evidence, and Yu is granted a place to stay. She then gets a hometown acquaintance of hers to bring her to work as a dancing girl at a club. Her friend reads aloud a letter from Yu's boyfriend before a big battle some four months ago. Her friend advises Yu that her boyfriend may be dead by now, and that romance won't keep her fed. Upon arriving at the dance club, they find that the city government has shut down the club in order to conserve energy for the war effort. The dancing girls, now out of work, protest but are roughly treated by baton-wielding police. Yu escapes from the fracas and starts a career of prostitution to secure enough money to travel to Taiwan in hopes of finding her missing lover. The drunken johns are noisy and waken the rest of the boardinghouse.

Lei's 12th Army is nearing encirclement during the Huaihai Campaign, and their supply lines have been cut. He orders a breakout towards Yongcheng, but an order comes in over the radio countermanding him to hold his position. He angrily goes to his headquarters, where his commanding general tells him that two recent breakout efforts have badly failed likely due to the People's Liberation Army getting wind of the plans, and that the order to refrain from attempting another breakout came from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek himself. Lei laments how he has returned to the same battlegrounds he fought on against the Japanese, only this time his men were dying against their countrymen instead of against foreign invaders.

Back in Taiwan, Zhou goes to replace a painting in her music room with one of her wedding day. In doing so, she discovers Masako's diary along with some original sheet music, revealing that this house is the one once occupied by Masako. While mediating a dispute between A-man and her manservant, Zhou collapses, bitten on the ankle by a snake. She is rushed to a doctor, who happens to be Yen. Zhou recognizes his name from the painting Masako's diary was concealed behind. The snakebite is determined to not be poisonous.

Zhou asks Dr. Yen to meet in private, and they do so at a lighthouse. She shows him Masako's diary, expressing that she wants to use Masako's sheet music as the beginning of the song she wants to write for her husband Lei. Zhou asks Yen to tell her about Masako for inspiration, thus starting a friendship anchored by their shared longing for a distant beloved. Yen goes on a trip down memory lane, revealing he met Masako as they were both artists, and that his mother sold Masako's mother the piano now belonging to Zhou after his father's death. His mother and the other local Taiwanese never much approved of his relationship with Masako, as she was one of the colonizers.

Captain Tong is penning a letter to Yu in the trenches when General Lei comes by and asks Tong to help fix his radio. After Tong succeeds in doing so, the two bond over their family photos.

Liu, a patient in Yu's hospital beseeches her to pawn his wedding ring to feed his family members, who have not visited in several days and were last reported to be starving. She takes his ring and goes to find his family, only to find them all dead from eating rat poison. Horrified, she rushes back to the hospital just as Liu is pronounced dead of a lung infection. Yu places the ring back on his finger as he is covered with a sheet. Yu returns to the boardinghouse to find hairdressers visiting. She sits down and asks for her hair to be done the same way as one of the other boarders. The other woman, angry, accuses Yu of being a whore and storms out.

In the Communist camp, the local populace arrives with food and supplies for the soldiers, whose morale is greatly increased. At the same time, the Nationalist soldiers are starving. Unable to see his soldiers suffer, General Lei shoots his own warhorse for meat. Captain Tong, out on patrol with an enlisted soldier local to the area, shoots a rabbit but finds himself staring down the barrel of a Communist soldier's rifle. They manage to come to a truce, and the three of them giddily roast and eat the rabbit seasoned with the salt Tong pilfered from the noodle shop in Shanghai.

Yu asks a john to pay double because he ejaculated twice. He beats her, making a commotion. She apologizes to the landlady with some red bean buns, and then leaves the house.

The Nationalists are subject to propaganda blaring from the Communist trenches, which also serves to cover the sounds of Communist sappers tunneling through the trenches. Lei, angry, rouses his troops and sends Captain Tong off to figure out why the 108th Division has been incommunicado. Tong and his enlisted companion drive down the wire, stopping to connect their phone and try the 108th, which does not answer. Communist general Liu Zhiqing, an old acquaintance of Lei's, arrives at Lei's command post for a parley. He offers Lei a bottle of baijiu and advises Lei to surrender, which Lei refuses to do (although he drinks the baijiu).

Tong runs into a checkpoint guarded by the 108th Division. It becomes apparent that they have either deserted or defected to the enemy. He convinces them not to kill him or hold him hostage, quickly returning to the rest of the 12th Army. When he goes to make his report, his companion holds him at gunpoint, having already secretly defected owing to how the Communists had occupied his nearby hometown without mistreating its residents. Tong turns his back to his companion and encourages him to shoot, tears streaming down his cheeks, but his companion cannot find it in himself to kill Tong.

Lei has finally received the order to break out. He gathers his officers and announces that no one is obligated to stay and fight, but they all choose to remain with him. As the fight begins, Captain Tong reports to General Lei and asks to be court-martialed. Lei doesn't understand why until he mutters that they can win if the 108th joins the fray now, and Tong explains that the 108th has deserted. Lei pulls his Browning Hi-Power and holds it to Tong's temple, but ends up handing Tong's rifle back to him and exhorting Tong to fight on. As the Communists burst through their tunnels and start to overrun the Nationalist positions, Tong is badly burned pushing Lei out of the way of an exploding truck. Lying together injured, Lei asks Tong why he came back. Tong confesses that he lied about having a wife and kids and felt guilty about how much Lei trusted him. Lei entrusts Tong with his diary of writings addressed to his wife Zhou and orders Tong to make sure she receives the diary safely. Lei then returns to his command post to look upon his wedding photo and dream of his wife and children at a country estate. He is presumably killed when a tank shell hits the post. [6]

Part II:

During the Chinese Revolution in 1949, three couples flee from China to the island of Taiwan.



Zhao Fei is the director of photography and Taro Iwashiro provided the scores for the film.[7]

The film's original script was written by Wang Hui-ling, who had scripted films for Taiwanese director Ang Lee, such as Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Lust, Caution (2007).[8] A new script written by John Woo, and Taiwanese filmmakers Su Chao-pin and Chen Ching-hui was described as "considerably altered".[8]

The filming began on The Crossing on July 6, 2013 in Beijing.[4][9][10] Other shooting locations included Inner Mongolia, Shanghai, Taiwan and Tianjin.[11]


The film was released in stereoscopic 3D.[12] On September 9, 2014, Beijing Galloping Horse announced that the film would be released in two parts with the first part set to release in China on December 2, 2014.[13]

The first official trailer for the film was released on September 22, 2014.[14]

The Crossing opened at first-place at the China box office on December 2, 2014 which accounted for about 37.3% of all screenings in China grossing RMB24.0 million (US$3.91 million).[15] The film was shown in 3-D and IMAX 3-D.[15] The film was released in Hong Kong on December 25, 2014.[8][15]


  1. "The Crossing: Part 1". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2015-01-22.
  2. "John Woo's 'The Crossing' shooting in Taipei". Central News Agency. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  3. "Weekly box office 22/12/2014 - 28/12/2014". Archived from the original on 2014-12-30. Retrieved 2014-12-29.
  4. "John Woo's 'Chinese Titanic' Begins Shooting in Beijing". 9 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  5. 《太平轮》贺岁起航,看乱世浮生(组图). Sohu (in Chinese). 2014-09-09. Retrieved 2014-09-12.
  6. 太平轮 [The Crossing (Part I)] (Motion picture) (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Beijing Gallop. December 2, 2014.
  7. "John Woo Sets Sail on 'The Crossing'". 8 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  8. Elley, Derek (22 January 2015). "The Crossing: Part 1". Film Business Asia. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  9. "John Woo starts filming new movie The Crossing in Beijing". 9 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. "John Woo Back to Directing for Chinese Revolution Film 'The Crossing'". 8 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  11. Kevin Ma (19 May 2014). "Terence Chang on the journey of The Crossing". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  12. Frater, Patrick (15 April 2014). "John Woo's 'The Crossing' To Be Released In 3D". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  13. Frater, Patrick (September 9, 2014). "John Woo Sets 'Crossing' Release for December". Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  14. Anderton, Ethan (September 22, 2014). "Watch: First International Teaser Trailer for John Woo's 'The Crossing'". Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  15. Ma, Kevin (December 4, 2014). "The Crossing opens with RMB24m in China". Film Business Asia. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
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