John Woo’s “The Crossing” Builds 1:1-Scale Model of Taiping Ocean Liner

Since director John Woo’s (吳宇森) The Crossing <太平輪> began filming in Beijing in July, rumors have abounded everywhere, but the cast and crew have mostly kept a low profile. Recently, reporters were allowed on set in Shanghai for the first time, where they witnessed the 1:1-scale model of the doomed Taiping steamer, which has been likened to “the Chinese Titanic.”

The Crossing focuses on the story of four females, all of whom come from different backgrounds and have different experiences in love, but who are brought together thanks to the Taiping steamer. A luxury passenger ocean liner, the Taiping went down in history after its shipwreck in 1949. After the Chinese Civil War, many government officials and merchants fled to Taiwan in order to escape Communist rule. When leaving the Shanghai harbor one night, however, the overloaded Taiping, which was traveling without lights, struck a cargo boat and caused nearly 1000 casualties.

The Crossing Ocean linerIn order to accurately portray the immensity of the luxury steamer, the film crew built a 1:1-scale model of the Taiping’s exterior, basing their creation on historical records. They also replicated parts of the interior facilities. A scene in the movie will depict hordes of passengers and refugees crowding the Shanghai harbor, eager to board the ship, all of them tiny and ant-like in comparison to the replica model.

The crew of The Crossing also constructed a pool about half the size of a soccer field in order to film the water scenes. Director John Woo revealed that the idea was a result of his visit to the set of Ang Lee’s (李安) The Life of Pi , which handled water scenes by implementing a 6,750-ton water tank in Taiwan.

The Shanghai backdrop and the Huangpu River, however, will all be added in digitally by Digital Domain, the visual effects team that worked on blockbusters like Titanic, Transformers, and Iron Man 3. The director also shared that The Crossing may be converted to 3D during post-production, explaining that “3D is a pretty good choice when displaying catastrophic scenes.”

The all-star cast, which boasts A-listers like Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), Takeshi Kaneshiro (金城武), Huang Xiaoming (黃曉明), and Bowie Lam (林保怡), is currently filming at Shanghai Chedun Film Park, and will head to Taiwan in January. Zhang Ziyi’s character, who was previously reported to be the wife of a military officer, was recently revealed instead to be a weary young woman who catches the eye of a simple and honest soldier played by Tong Dawei (佟大為).


This article is written by Joanna for

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  1. Sounds like “Titanic part 2” with different location and production 😀

  2. This woman if she doesn’t smile her face look very fierce is better for her to smile more in person.

    1. She’s freezing and trying to survive in the water. It would be illogical to smile here.

  3. Seriously -.- titanic no.2? Can the Chinese be more original? It’s like they r doing a remake, but no money for copyright so this come about. “Find me a real sank ship in history of china, now lets throw in a love story, there we have it, titanic no.2 w.o paying copyright! We r genius!” Pfft >_>

    1. The Crossing is actually based on a Chinese novel about historic events during the WW2. The ship sinking happened in reality.

      1. Never said the ship sinking isn’t an actual event. I’m just saying to do the idea of titanic, but make it seem legit, all they need is a real ship sank in china >_> obviously, if you want other to see this movie in better light than a copycat of titanic, you need to say movie base on a novel, and here is the summary/plot line of the novel.
        And I agree with other posters about it should strive to be unique and original.

  4. It’s silly to promote this as the Chinese ‘Titanic’. Hope they have enough sense to change their marketing tactic.

    1. Actually it is quite clever. Titanic was a huge hit and maybe some may like to watch a chinese version for a bit of good old romance?

      1. Riding on a blockbuster’s coat-tails is not clever.
        Striving for originality and being unique would be more respectable.

      2. Sorry, but I have to agree with msxie. As popular as Titanic was, it would be unwise to brand this as a Chinese version.

        Titanic worked as a romance for a number of reasons. It was about the idea of an unsinkable ship in the golden age of cruise lining. The fact that it sunk on its maiden voyage added to the legend and ‘romance’ aspect and thus you could portray a tragic love story between Kate and Leo.

        Giving the Taiping happened in the context of war, it would be more appropriate to make this more historically accurate and get the characters to drive a story that is focused on the horrors and tragedies of conflict. Examine the human side rather than merely romance and love

  5. No other actresses to cast for this movie? Why ZZY again… Not to say she is not good but bored of seeing her again and again and again…

    1. there are other actresses – (angelababy)- who overshadow ZZ in publicity and exposure nowadays.

  6. After ZZY given up on Hollywood for the crappy roles, she is actually landing first rate roles in China and Hong Kong. I guess that director was right (was it Zhang Yimou?) to come back to China and be an A lister. But there isn’t that much diversity in Chinese films right now. Every trailer I’ve seen or every promotion has Huang Xiao Ming, Zhang Zi Yi, or Angelababy. I mean even Hollywood films aren’t made up of the same formula of actors despite them doing tons of remakes.

    1. Newcomers should be given more opportunities in films, but It’s the fault of moviegoers who want to see familiar A listers in films.

  7. The other leading actress is Song Hye Kyo. She will be playing an heiress opposite Huang Xiaoming. I like Zhang Ziyi and maybe the fact that she gets casted so much is because she can act unlike others who just have a pretty face. The only problem for her is that she is always typecasted into action roles. So, I’m glad she got this part where as it is not a martial arts movie. Also might be a reason why she is retiring from martial art movies.

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