Asia Life

Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi Cast in New John Woo Film

Director John Woo is back, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Ziyi to star in his next film.

Jonathan DeHart

John Woo, Hong Kong film director and producer, has tapped heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro (Chinese name: Gum Sing Mo) to star in his next film, The Crossing, slated to begin production in July.

Starring alongside Kaneshiro will be lead actor Huang Xiaoming, opposite lead actresses Zhang Ziyi and Korean starlet Song Hye-Kyo. Initially, Woo (aka Ng Yu Sum) hoped to cast Taiwanese actor Chang Chen opposite Song Hye-Kyo – but Chen was unable to accept due to scheduling.

When Woo came to Huang with the offer of the role, despite being “second choice”, Huang didn’t hesitate. Though Huang’s manager declined to comment, the Chinese actor, singer and model said that working with Woo would likely boost his skills as a performer.

The Crossing, to be set in the 1940s, is Woo’s first project since Red Cliff 2, which he completed in 2009, and will explore the interlocking stories of six main characters whose lives and romances intersect. The film will allegedly be based on the Taiping ferry that capsized on January 27, 1949 in the Baijie Strait southeast of Shanghai.

The prospect of a love story by Woo is an intriguing one, as the director is traditionally associated with high octane “gun fu” films like The Killer, a 1989 Hong Kong flick starring a young Chow Yun-Fat as an assassin; Hard Boiled, a classic 1992 Hong Kong police/triads film again starring Chow; Broken Arrow, a 1996 Hollywood film starring John Travolta and Christian Slater involving the theft of an American nuclear weapon; and Face/Off, a 1997 movie in which John Travolta (again) and Nicolas Cage play a game of cat and mouse as FBI agent and terrorist who swap faces.

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Woo, who is highly influential as a director in the action genre, is known for his trademark chaotic action sequences laden with slow motion shots of bullets gently floating by and people spinning through the air. Most recently this style of direction came through in his films Red Cliff and Red Cliff 2, a Chinese war epic about the Battle of Red Cliffs (208-209 AD), the ending of the Han Dynasty and the early beginnings of the Three Kingdoms period.

Kaneshiro also worked with Woo in the Red Cliffs series. Zhang, who has starred in similar wuxia martial arts epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, has recently announced her retirement from martial arts films.

The Crossing should offer a very different end result from what audiences have come to expect from the project’s diverse match-up.