After months of delay, Zhang Yimou‘s spy thriller Impasse is finally set to debut in China on April 30, joining the blockbuster competition over the Labor Day holiday on May 1.
Starring Zhang Yi, Yu Hewei, Zhang Hanyu, Qin Hailu, and Zhu Yawen, Impasse is set in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province Heilongjiang, in the 1930s. The film tells the tale of four Chinese agents who sneaked into the puppet state of Manchukuo to investigate rumored inhumane experiments carried out by Japanese forces.
Here’s a new trailer for a taste:
Impasse was initially due to be shown in cinemas last year, but its release was ultimately postponed. Although Zhang’s films have had a few issues with censors in recent years, leading to a number of his works being pulled from festivals or not making it to theaters when expected, in this case it’s thought that the film’s release was pushed back due to the pandemic.
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This is Zhang’s first time trying his hand at the spy thriller genre, as the director broadens his project list away from the wuxia epics that have dominated his work in the past decade or so, such as the monochromatic martial arts film Shadow.
Zhang is also reported to be working on his first-ever TV series, despite famously warning Zhang Ziyi away from such work earlier in her career. The man responsible for Raise the Red Lantern and Hero is set to helm a small screen adaptation of The Star, a novel by Chen Yan based on the life of Shaanxi Opera performer Yi Qin’e.
Where Impasse will sit within his oeuvre remains to be seen, but it ought to make for some interesting competition at the Labor Day box office. Other projects set for release on or around May Day include Li Yu’s Tiger Robbers (her first film in almost 15 years without Fan Bingbing) and Hero, a film focusing on female figures during the pandemic headed up by Joan Chen, Sylvia Chang and Li Shaohong.
Cover photo: A still of Impasse
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