'Impasse' Trailer: Zhang Yimou's Next Film is a Wintry Spy Thriller

Zhang Yimou is the go-to auteur for beautifully shot Chinese arthouse films, though the visual splendor of his style sometimes overshadows everything else in his work. As a result, Zhang’s recent films have earned a reputation for being visually striking but narratively stilted. But Zhang’s last film, the monochromatic (and hugely fun) martial arts film Shadow, proved that the Chinese filmmaker still has some oomph left in him. Enough oomph that he has not one, but two, upcoming films that are set to be released within the next two years. Just a few months after the trailer dropped for his upcoming crime drama Under the Light, the trailer for his next film Impasse has been released. See the Impasse trailer below.

Impasse Trailer

Starring Zhang Yi, Zhang Hanyu, Qin Hailu, and Zhu YawenImpasse is a wintry period drama that reportedly follows a group of spies investigating inhumane experiments by Japan. The trailer seems to suggest the same, with the Chinese spies readying for some kind of mission that threatens their safety and their lives. With its chilly, wintry setting, it appears that Impasse will be another visually stunning outing for Zhang, even if the subdued grey hues of a mid-century period drama seem to go against his usual brand of visual splendor. He managed to make a pretty awesome-looking movie out of a purely monochromatic color scheme with Shadow, so Zhang can probably make a cold period espionage movie look great.

Impasse is a dramatic change from Under the Light, a neon-lit urban crime drama starring Lei Jiayin, Zhang Guoli, Yu Hewei, and Zhou Dongyu that follows several generations of gangsters involved in corrupt schemes, and hails from another genre that Zhang hasn’t dabbled much in before, except for a few outliers in his early career. The director has mostly become known for his wuxia films, making a splash on the global stage with resplendent martial arts films like 2002’s Hero and 2004’s House of Flying Daggers. His 2018 wuxia film Shadow was a return to form and Zhang’s best film in years, so it’s interesting to see the filmmaker go in drastically different directions for his two next films.

Under the Light is set to hit Chinese theaters this year, though a U.S. release is not yet confirmed (or at all certain at this point). Zhang recently resumed shooting and is now in post-production for Impasse, which is slated for a 2021 theatrical release in China.

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