cliff walkers review

Zhang Yimou‘s name instantly calls to mind the bright, opulent colors of the renowned Chinese filmmaker’s wuxia films and historical epics — Hero and House of Flying Daggers are two of the most sumptuous films to grace our screens. So it’s no wonder that Cliff Walkers (formerly titled Impasse), Zhang’s first foray into the spy thriller, is a handsome and stylish thriller whose wintry setting establishes a chilly mood befitting the genre.

But it’s with a cold hand that Zhang approaches Cliff Walkers. It’s more of a chance for the visual master to flex his muscles in staging taut suspense sequences that flirt with the balletic action he’s known for (this time with more Bourne-style shaky cam!) and less of anything else. But it’s hard to complain too much about the stilted, somewhat confusing, story when Cliff Walkers looks this good.

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impasse trailer

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.

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The Great Wall

Everyone’s familiar with the Great Wall of China, but far fewer people know why it was built in the first place. Fortunately, the new The Great Wall trailer is here to tell us. Forget everything you’ve read in your history books about trade and invasions and whatnot — In Zhang Yimou‘s upcoming fantasy epic, Matt Damon discovers the real reason it exists is to keep out the monsters. Not “monsters” as in bad people; actual, literal monsters like you might see in Godzilla or Pacific Rim. Watch The Great Wall trailer below.  Read More »

The Great Wall Trailer

Legendary Pictures seems to be in the business of bringing monsters back to theaters in a big way. They revived Godzilla back in 2014 (with a sequel in the works as well), they had kaiju fight Jaegers in Pacific Rim, they’re bringing back King Kong next year in Kong: Skull Island (watch the new trailer), and then they’re going to have Godzilla and King Kong fight in 2020. Now they’re bringing monsters into the deep past of China.

The Great Wall takes place 1,000 years ago, revealing the real reason the the iconic structure known as The Great Wall of China was built. Believe it or not, it appears the reason that the wall was built was to keep China safe from some extremely dangerous monsters, and Matt Damon is one of the noble warriors fighting against them. Watch The Great Wall trailer after the jump. Read More »

Coming Home trailer

Sony Pictures Classics has unveiled the new trailer for Coming Home, the historical romance from director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero). Based on the novel by Geling Yan, Coming Home centers on a married couple, Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) and Feng Wanyu (Gong Li), who are separated when the former is sent to a labor camp.

He returns years later to discover that she, having suffered a head injury, no longer recognizes him. Determined to get his life back, he sets out to resurrect his relationship with his wife. Newcomer Zhang Huiwen plays their daughter. Watch the Coming Home trailer after the jump. Read More »


Legendary Pictures has been trying to mount The Great Wall for sometime and now they might just have the two men to do it. Matt Damon and Bryan Cranston are in talks to star in the Zhang Yimou directed period epic which will “reveal the legend behind a great mystery of our age: why this magnificent structure came to be.”

Edward Zwick was originally going to direct the film with Henry Cavill, but it never quite came together. A new script by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) seems to have put thing back in motion though. Read more about The Great Wall movie below. Read More »

Coming Home trailer

You can always count on the Cannes Film Festival to showcase the most intriguing releases from around the world. This year, that includes Coming Home, the latest from director Zhang Yimou.

Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern) and Chen Daoming (Hero) lead the sweeping romantic drama, which has already been scooped up by Sony Pictures Classics for U.S. distribution. Watch the gorgeous first Coming Home trailer after the jump.

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Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou almost worked together several years ago, when the two were teamed to create the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olymipcs. Spielberg pulled out of that project, but there’s a chance the two could still do something together in the future.

While Spielberg is pursuing new projects (having put off Robopocalpypse and abandoned American Sniper), Zhang Yimou is attached to make Quasimodo, and has at least one project prepping in China. But Spielberg still fancies a gig with the director, and recently mentioned the idea of them doing a film together that would be set in China. Read More »


Briefly: Warner Bros. has been developing Quasimodo for a while, with Josh Brolin attached to star and produce. The idea, as the title implies, is to present a new vision of the title character drawn from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. We don’t know who Brolin would play, or what direction the story is taking. But there’s a script (one draft is by Kieran and Nichele Mulroney) and now there’s a director. We told you about this back in 2011, when Tim Burton was rumored to be in the picture to direct. That never quite came together, but the film hasn’t died.

Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers) is now in talks to make the movie. While Yimou’s last film, The Flowers of War, recreated WWII China, this could be an opportunity for the director to exercise some of his visual flair as seen in his crowd-pleasing wuxia films. [Variety]



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Not too long ago the small outfit Wreckin Hill Entertainment picked up US rights to Zhang Yimou‘s new film The Flowers of War. That’s the film in which Christian Bale plays a roguish American who ends up taking responsibility for a group of girls and women who take refuge in a church during Japan’s siege of Nanking during World War II.

The film is China’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language film (it is also the most expensive film produced in China) and has an Oscar-qualifying run set to begin December 21 in New York, with openings on Dec 23 in LA and San Francisco.

To promote that Oscar run there is now a US trailer for the film, and it is far more coherent and story-oriented than the sales trailer we saw some time ago. It still shows off the film’s wartime scope, but it also foregrounds the narrative so that we can really get an idea of how the film plays. Check it out below. Read More »