Timetraveller Wife
by Timetraveller Wife

Hollywood has Titanic and Asia has The Crossing

Besides the war and the final moments of an ill-fated luxury steamer, The Crossing is about three passengers whose lives are intrinsically linked through the Chinese steamer, "Taiping", that sunk on 27 January 1949. About 1,000 passengers were on board and only 34 survived the disaster. 

The three passengers are Yu Zhen, Yunfen and Zekun. 

Yu Zhen (Ziyi Zhang) is looking for a man who has gone to war as a soldier. Instead of finding him, she finds a sense of family in Daqing (Dawei Tong), who is also a soldier and who is smitten by her. Having first met when Daqing needed someone to pose for a photo shoot as his family so that his family would be entitled to food rations, she turns out to be his mental support, helping him to pull through the war. 


Yunfen (Hye-kyo Song) is a spirited young lady who refuses to follow the notions of what a woman should be in the great Shanghai era. Following her heart, she marries Yifang (Xiaoming Huang), a commander who leads an army. Their love story is romantic and dreamy. When Yifang relocates Yunfen to Taiwan because of the instability in Shanghai, she resettles in a house where Zekun's lover used to stay. When she loses Yifang in the war, Daqing, who served under Yifang, gives her his memories of him. 


Zekun (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a kind-hearted Taiwanese doctor who is drafted to war. Because of this, he loses his lover (Masami Nagasawa) who is repatriated back to Japan. He can only reminisce about her through her diary, which has been found by Yunfen. As fate has it, Yunfen meets Zekun when a snake accidentally bites her. Through a painting in the house, she learns that Zekun is the person who should hold onto the diary. Bound by family responsibilities, Zekun's dream of reuniting with his lover drifts further and further away. 

If the three characters’ paths had not crossed, their lives would have turned out differently: Each would not have been given the closure that was needed for them to move on with their lives. 

The Crossing gathered together some of the most famous Asian actors: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ziyi Zhang, Hye-kyo Song, Xiaoming Huang, Bowie Lam, Dawei Tong, Masami Nagasawa and many more. John Woo directed both The Crossing and The Crossing 2.

To portray the luxury steamer realistically, a 1:1 scale model of the ship's exterior was built. A pool about half the size of a soccer field was also constructed so as to film the water scenes where the steamer sinks. 

The Chinese steamer model, "Taiping" displayed at the global premiere of the film

Not only do the grand war scenes steal the heart but there are also little moments that are poignant and stay in one’s mind long after the movie ends:

The troop that Yifang is leading are facing starvation when they meet a standoff in the war. With his soldiers slowly dying from hunger, he walks his black stallion to the front of his men. He shares a moment with his horse before shooting it with his gun. As the stallion falls, he tells the troop that the horse should feed them well for a couple of days. Other men do as he did and sacrifice their horses for the troop. 

Zekun's sister-in-law rescues a stack of burnt letters and passes them to him. These are letters from his Japanese girlfriend that his mother has been secretly burning to prevent their reunion. As he puts the burnt bits and pieces together, the realisation of his love's fate breaks his heart. 

The movie begins with a sea of dead soldiers and a little white flower that stands alone in the wind. The contrast of life and death is so stark that it makes us wonder why we bring such self-made disasters upon ourselves. 

The Crossing is not just a movie about the sinking of a great ship, it is also about crossing over from one life to another, one state of mind to the next. 

The Crossing

The Crossing 2