Cliff Walkers also known as Impasse is a 2021 Chinese historical thriller film written by Quan Yongxian and directed by Zhang Yimou It is set in the Imperial Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in the 1930s before World War II erupts.
In both China and the United States, the film was released on April 30, 2021. In China, it is shown in IMAX, CINITY, Dolby Cinema, and other formats. China Media Capital distributes it in the United States.
The film follows four Chinese Communist Party agents who parachute back to Harbin in Northeastern China in the early 1930s, set in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Together, they engage in a covert operation code-named “Utrennya” (Russian: “утрeнн”), with the goal of extracting a former prisoner who may expose the Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731’s immoral human experimentation and other crimes against humanity in front of the international audience.
Upon landing, the crew separated into two groups in order to avoid being apprehended and tortured for selling over their loved ones to the opposing party. They’re also willing to die by drinking cyanide-equivalent pills hidden inside a matchbox. Group 1 discovers their local contacts have been disguised by opponents soon after their separation. They are able to escape the trap, but they soon discover that they have been sold out by a traitor who has caved in after being tortured and seeing the execution of his colleagues. Will group 1 be able to communicate with group 2 and complete the mission? On the frigid grounds of Manchukuo, that is the question.
- Zhang Yi as Zhang Xianchen, a former journalist-turned CCP agent
- Yu Hewei as Zhou Yi, a CCP agent embedded within the enemy
- Qin Hailu as Wang Yu, Zhang’s wife, and comrade
- Zhu Yawen as Chu Liang, Zhang’s comrade
- Liu Haocun as Xiao Lan, Zhang’s comrade, and Chu’s girlfriend
- Ni Dahong as Gao Bin, the enemy in charge
- Li Naiwen as Gao’s henchman
- Yu Ailei as Jin Zhide, Gao’s henchman
- Lei Jiayin as Xie Zirong, a CCP agent-turned traitor
During the Pingyao International Film Festival in October 2019, a concept poster was unveiled. The cameras began filming in Xuexiang National Forest Park on December 13, 2019. On May 19, 2020, the filming was completed.
Jo Yeong-wook composed the original score, while the eponymous theme song was written by the band RadioMars and performed by Zhou Shen.