LOS ANGELES, April 30 (Xinhua) — “Cliff Walkers,” the first foray of renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou into the spy genre, opened Friday in a limited theatrical release in North America.
The spy thriller film in Mandarin is being released by CMC Pictures with English subtitles in selected theaters in over forty cities across the United States and Canada, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Houston, Phoenix, Honolulu and Montreal.
Featuring a star-studded cast of China’s leading talent, including Zhang Yi, Yu Hewei and Qin Hailu, the action heavyweight, set in the 1930s in China’s northeast during the Japanese invasion, follows four Chinese special agents who return to China to embark on a secret mission after receiving training in the Soviet Union. However, the moment they parachute in, they find they have been sold out by a traitor, and are now in deep water.
“We are very delighted to work with director Zhang Yimou again after his film ‘Shadow,’ and we can’t wait to show global audience this beautiful masterpiece,” said Julia Zhu, director of CMC Pictures International Distribution.
“I believe that the combination of intense rhythm and delicate camera language of this film will draw audience into a multi-dimensional feast,” she told Xinhua.
“Cliff Walkers” opened simultaneously Friday in China, joining a packed lineup for screening during the five-day May Day holiday starting on May 1, usually a busy moviegoing period in the country.
The film took in more than 82 million yuan (around 12.66 million U.S. dollars) in its opening day, according to the box office data compiled by Maoyan, a Chinese movie-ticketing and film data platform.
It’s also scheduled to be released in Australia and New Zealand this weekend, according to CMC Pictures.
The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics and audiences. It currently boasts a rating of 9.1 out of 10 based from over 23,000 viewers on Maoyan platform.
“With Hollywood blockbusters still missing-in-action – it’ll be weeks before A Quiet Place Part II makes your local cinema a less quiet place – it’s nice to report that other countries are happy to fill American screens,” wrote U.S. film critic Bob Mondello for the National Public Radio, adding that Scotland’s refugee dramedy “Limbo” and “Cliff Walkers” “both boast visual palettes eminently worthy of the big screen.”
“Zhang, celebrated for both masterworks (Raise the Red Lantern), and pop hits (House of Flying Daggers), can’t seem to make a film that isn’t visually exquisite,” he added.
Another film critic Deborah Young commented that Zhang Yimou’s new work is “a visually entrancing parade of attractive actors in a pleasingly fluid spy-counterspy dance.”
Young pointed out in her review for The Hollywood Reporter that “the director of Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern continues his exploration of genres in an essentially visual mode that is probably intended to pose no cultural obstacles to international audiences.”
“Cliff Walkers is most memorable for its unusual setting and time frame,” wrote film critic Anna Smith for Deadline Hollywood.
“Cliff Walkers may be only moderately successful as a spy movie, but it’s an evocative depiction of a specific place and time,” she added.
“Cliff Walkers is an impressive movie, one of those that should be watched in a theater in order to be fully appreciated and a true eye-candy that will satisfy all fans of Hollywood style, action thrillers,” wrote Panos Kotzathanasis for the Asian Movie Pulse website.