Actress Li Bingbing is seen in a scene of the new spy thriller "The Message".
Perhaps the only thing that's not mysterious about spies is that they are becoming increasingly popular with China's film and TV viewers.
And the reason for that is, well, that spies are mysterious.
This autumn, "The Message" ("Feng Sheng") will join the growing list of flicks about the shadowy lives of secret agents.
Set during China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), it stars seven A-listers, including Zhou Xun and Li Bingbing. The movie will also feature Li's first nude scene.
Oscar-winning designer of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Tim Yip handmade the entire wardrobe. The set - two villas perched on a seaside cliff - features vintage furniture and ornaments collected from all over the country. The antique sofas, lights, tableware and LPs cost more than 4 million yuan (US$580,000).
The storyline is loosely adapted from a novel by Mai Jia. Following the assassination of an official of the Japanese-controlled puppet government, the Japanese chief imprisons five suspects to flush out the planted agent.
One reason for spy thrillers' growing popularity is the strict set of restrictions the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT) placed on the broadcasting time and content of crime TV series in 2004.