A scene in

Cliff Walkers

feature actress Liu Haocun and actor Zhang Yi. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The renowned director Zhang Yimou’s first espionage story,

Cliff Walkers

, has opened across domestic theaters, including all the over 700 IMAX cinemas in the mainland, since April 30.

Set in the Japan-occupied puppet state “Manchukuo” in early 1930s, the story follows four Soviet Union-trained Communist Party agents sneaking into Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, to rescue a survivor escaping from a covert camp where the brutal Japanese take prisoners for lethal human experiments.

Continuing Zhang’s iconic usage of colors to create atmosphere or develop characters, the new film — with a lot of snowy scenes against the dark nights — showcases an epic sense to indicate the conflicts between the good and the evil.

So far, the film has grossed over 25 million yuan ($3.86 million) on the opening day, making it the second highest-grossing title of China’s box office charts in the fiercely contented May Day vacation, which has drawn more than 10 new movies to strive for the lucrative market.