Kind of Cross with “The Crossing”

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I went to watch “The Crossing” with Ming today despite not knowing much about the storyline/plot because of the following reasons:
1.  It’s a John Woo film
2.  Takeshi Kaneshiro

I found it also mildly interesting that the cast is so diverse, with Song Hye Kyo in it together with other big weights such as Zhang Ziyi, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Nagasawa Masami. I also knew that John Woo was going to take advantage of Kaneshiro’s multilingual abilities to the max in this movie.

“The Crossing” is a 2-part epic that starts at the end of the Sino-Japanese war in 1945 where General Lei (Huang) is a war hero and returns to Shanghai to marry a rich man’s daughter (Song). In that last battle, a Taiwanese doctor who was drafted into the Japanese Army (Kaneshiro) is sent to war prison and when he finally is released and returns to Taiwan, he is caught in a lonely world where his Japanese love (Nagasawa) is repatriated and he is seen by some as a traitor due to his time with the Japanese army. The army signaller (Tong), meets Miss Yi (Zhang) one day as part of his ploy to get more rations from the army by pretending that she is his wife. On that day, he ends up falling in love with her but she is on a desperate mission in finding her love, who is in the army but has not written to her for 4 months. There is never any sense of peace because all of this takes place during the Civil War in China.

The movie has an NC-16 rating probably due to all the gore from the war scenes where you see flying bodies and body parts and John Woo does not shy away from the pyrotechnics with all the bombs going off.

I really wonder what’s going on in John Woo’s mind when he made this film. He’s clearly anti-war, judging how the war scenes aren’t glorified. He can’t help but portray some sympathy to the Nationalist Army who were fighting a losing battle but he tried to balance it out by giving a voice to why the farmers and the poor sided with the Communists during the Civil War. But his ambivalence makes me then think that he’s trying to focus on the sob stories that each character tells. However, (this is where I get mad) the script has cheesy lines that no normal human being will say to each other. Especially in those days. I get the romance and play on the weather/plants/gorgeous scenery BUT normal people don’t spout out cheesy one-liners about how “you are like this orchid, it’s been with me for 3 years and no matter where it grows, it’s still beautiful” before staring into each other’s eyes deeply and then kissing semi-passionately. The cheese gets cheesier in the scene where Tong suddenly falls in love with Miss Yi. Was it done for comic relief? Hmm…

Another thing that is sadly lacking is the chemistry between the cast. I feel sad/happy on an intellectual level when scenes such as the couples falling in love is supposed to be happy and when someone dies, you go “oh…that’s sad.” Sadly (pun intended), you do not connect with the characters and you can’t empathise nor sympathise with their situation.

To add, the movie had tons of picturesque scenes which were really gorgeous but the treatment of some of them were a bit lacking. It seemed as if those scenes were used simply for the sake of having really gorgeous scenes that can be cut as postcards.

I didn’t like how Part 1 ended either. There was a really confusing trailer meant to pique your interest for Part 2 but it was a little out of place from the previous scene where they gave you the sad facts about how many soldiers died etc. Gah. I’m so irritated by the whole thing that I don’t know whether the second part is worth watching. Honestly, if I do, it’ll just for Kaneshiro-san.

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