Beijing Galloping Horse has set the China release date for the first part of John Woo’s upcoming epic drama The Crossing for December 2.

Starring Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Korean actress Song Hye-kyo, the film revolves around three couples on a liner that sinks during its crossing between mainland China and Taiwan.

Woo also confirmed that the movie was delayed in 2012 by his diagnosis of cancer. He first heard the story of the ill-fated Taiping liner from scriptwriter Wang Huiling in 2008 and was moved to make an historical romantic drama that would portray events during a tumultuous time in China’s history.

“While I was receiving treatment in the States, I saw a bad film and I thought to myself, I could not just die like that. I can’t just go away without making a film which I think is perfect,” said Woo.

The Crossing is produced by Beijing Galloping Horse, Le Vision Pictures, China Film and Huayi Brothers. The second part of the two-part movie will be released in 2015.

The early December release date for the first part comes a few weeks before the release of another highly-anticipated Chinese production, Jiang Wen’s Gone With The Bullets, on December 18.