Film Review: ‘Wolf Warrior II’

'Wolf Warrior II' Review: An Action

Wu Jing's record-breaking Chinese-produced action-adventure gives audiences plenty of bang for their bucks.

Earlier this week, “Wolf Warrior II” made the leap from smash hit to bona fide phenomenon, becoming the top grossing film released in its native China (more than $500 million in 12 days, and still counting). Like Sylvester Stallone before him, and John Wayne before Stallone, star Wu Jing (who also directs) has successfully exploited the crowd-pleasing potential of enhancing militaristic action-adventure heroics with a heavy dose of flag-waving patriotism. The big difference here, of course, is that the flag waved by Wu and others in this shoot-’em-up extravaganza is that of the People’s Republic of China, and Wu’s heroic Leng Feng is not a Green Beret, but rather a once and future member of his country’s elite Wolf Warriors special ops unit.

Depending on their own political leanings, some Westerners will be either amused or incensed by the full-throated nationalism that pervades “Wolf Warrior II,” and by the film’s sporadic insistence that Chinese military forces are more resilient and reliable than those of any other country (like, say, U.S. Marines) when it comes to extracting its citizens from international hot spots. On the other hand, more apolitical moviegoers are likely to simply enjoy the runaway train of action set pieces that Wu propels with his flimsy but serviceable plot, and dismiss all the jingoist chest-thumping as roughly akin to  John Rambo’s stated desire to refight the Vietnam War — and, dammit, win this time! — in “Rambo: First Blood Part II.”

At the start of “Wolf Warrior II,” which Wu co-wrote with Dong Qun and Liu Yi, Feng takes care of business as a lone wolf, single-handedly dispatching a group of pirates intent attacking a freighter in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. Flashbacks helpfully explain that he’s working at a freelance security gig after being booted from his special ops unit (and serving three years in prison) for roughing up a loutish land developer who threatened the loved ones of a comrade who perished during the 2015 “Wolf Warrior” (also directed by and starring Wu).

Even so, as Feng himself says, “Once a Wolf Warrior, always a Wolf Warrior!” Initially, he appears content to spend his time between jobs drinking and chilling in the port city of an unnamed African nation, with only occasional thoughts about Long Xiaoyun (Yu Nan), his missing and presumed-dead former lover, ever darkening his mood. But he just can’t help being the right man in the wrong place at the right time.

When revolutionaries cut a bloody swath through the city, during a thrillingly chaotic sequence that comes across as equal parts Paul Greengrass and Jackie Chan, Feng relies on his expertise with martial arts and automatic weapons to shepherd innocent bystanders through the fray and to the safety of the Chinese embassy. And when the commander of a Chinese battleship says he and his men are bound by international law not to do anything more than transport Chinese nationals (and a few locals) out of harm’s way, Feng volunteers to become a one-man army for a rescue mission that takes him to a “Chinese-invested” hospital and a Chinese-financed factory complex that have been targeted by vicious mercenaries.

“Wolf Warrior II” allows Wu the opportunity to evince greater charismatic wattage as an action-movie star than he did in the first “Wolf Warrior.” (One could argue that he was far more sympathetic in Soi Cheang’s 2015 “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences” — aka “Kill Zone 2” — but, to be fair, that movie cast him as a bone-marrow donor to a leukemia-stricken little girl.) Better still, he develops three nicely differentiated styles of give-and-take with co-stars playing Wu’s major allies: Celina Jade as a doctor seeking a cure for an infectious disease ravaging the African nation; Wu Gang as a seasoned Chinese army vet now in charge of security at the factory; and Hans Zhang as a second-generation army officer determined to prove his mettle under fire.

But the performances ultimately serve as so much window dressing during the virtually nonstop cavalcade of rough stuff, ranging from hand-to-hand combat to an assault by armed drones to cleverly choreographed tank battles, that Wu Jing has conceived in concert with action directors Wai Leung Wong (“Operation Mekong”) and Sam Hargrave (“Atomic Blonde”). It would appear Wu heeded the comments of disappointed fans (and movie critics) who complained that Feng’s climatic grudgep-match with the chief villain (Scott Adkins) in the first “Wolf Warrior” was disappointingly brief. Here, he gives us a satisfyingly extended one-on-one battle between Feng and Big Daddy (snarling and scenery-chewing Frank Grillo), the sadistic leader of the mercenary band.

Wu skillfully amps the suspense during the final confrontation by effectively underscoring it with, of all things, a supporting character’s impassioned rendition of “Amazing Grace.” It’s probably wise not to read any religious subtext into the director’s choice of the hymn — in this context, it’s used pretty much the same way Ennio Morricone’s nondenominational score was employed in Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns.

The epilogue of “Wolf Warrior II” promises a forthcoming “Wolf Warrior III.” Judging from the box office returns for this chapter in what promises to be an ongoing franchise, let’s just say Wu and his producers were not merely confident — they were downright prescient.

Film Review: 'Wolf Warrior II'

Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, Aug. 9, 2017. Running time: 124 MIN. (Original title: “Zhàn láng 2.”)

Production

A Well Go USA Entertainment release (in the U.S.) in association with The H Collective of a Beijing Century Media Culture production. Producers: Jiang Ping, Zhao Haicheng, Li Yang, Zhao Jianjun, Xu Zhiyong, Jing Defu, Liu Kailuo, Deng Hao, Wu Yan.

Crew

Director: Wu Jing. Screenplay: Wu Jing, Dong Qun, Liu Yi. Camera (color): Peter Ngor. Editor: Kai Fa Cheung. Music: Joseph Trapanese.

With

Wu Jing, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade, Wu Gang, Hans Zhang, Ding Haifeng,  Chunyu Shanshan, Yu Nan. (Mandarin, English dialogue.)

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  1. Arthur Dayne says:

    This film did very well with Asians because it features a strong Asian male lead who gets the girl at the end which is NOT found in hollywood.

  2. athenastill says:

    Ok the character played by Han Zheng is not a second-generation army officer, he is the son of a businessman and a fanboy of hot weapons. Shouldn’t have made a mistake like this in a movie review.

  3. cp4ab0lishm3nt says:

    Saw the movie Wolf Warrior 2. This movie definitely is jingoistic peppered with Chinese nationalism. Its fantastic that this movie and the previous Wolf Warrior (also being hugely popular, in China) made the strides that the Chinese can engage more in world affairs and not let America and Russia be the only soundbites. Despite as an overseas Chinese living in Malaysia, it just goes to show that Chinese people are not imperialistic minded and still do have the heart of the world in its minds. This movie underlines the fact that China’s foreign policy need not be either too passive or be seen largely as an imperial power with nuclear abilities. The Chinese warrior is seen as a purveyor of influence not just for his friends in Africa but also the Chinese military bureaucracy. This is good and the young in China can learn a lot from this sort of ‘heroism.’

    • YRF says:

      Of course the young in China will learn from this. It’s not like they’re really allowed to think anything else of their thought-controlling government. And now they’ve finally got the big sparkly CCP-approved blockbuster to further obfuscate the truth. China’s foreign policy will always be tethered to its largely horrible domestic policies, and the party’s disastrous history that kept billions down (and sent down) for the better part of the 20th century. Praise of a film like this needs to be tempered by reality, especially the fact that it’s box-office success in China was entirely engineered by the CCP’s annual August “blackout period”, during which ALL non-Chinese movies are actually BANNED from Chinese screens so homegrown propaganda can be spoon-fed to the riled-up nationalist masses more easily.

      • cp4ab0lishm3nt says:

        YRF, you are so naive and ignorant. Just remember that when you reply these questions, half your components come from China. The clothes you are wearing is perhaps from China. Most of the calories you put in your tummy do come from China. Sure you can boycott but who’s with you.

      • No nonsense says:

        I feel sorry for your ignorance. Your brain is so numbed by western propaganda that you lost your curiosity and ability to check out news around the world. I mean news published around the world from different angles.

  4. Will Al Khites says:

    Watched the movie 3 times. Loved it. Finally I get to see an Asian man kiss a white girl – something so taboo in Hollywood that you get banned from acting for even mentioning it. Only white men are allowed to have sexual relations with women of color according to the racist producers in america. But times are changing – Whites are no longer at the top. And this will trigger many many more whites in the future.

    • YRF says:

      As mentioned, Celina Jade is half Chinese. Thankfully HONG KONG Chinese, but still Chinese in part. The only way this movie would impress in terms of cultural mixing would be if Wu Jing’s character kissed a BLACK GIRL since the film is set in China’s new colonialist outpost, Africa (though where specifically is never mentioned). But we know that will never happen as Mainland Chinese view blacks almost as poorly the white bigot contingent in the U.S.

      • cp4ab0lishm3nt says:

        YRF, did you even watch the movie? It’s the girl who kissed the man, not the other way round. She was impressed with his commitment to a person who had so much influence in him. Watch Wolf Warrior 1.

      • Hero with Chinese Characteristics says:

        Wu Jing is a hero with Chinese characteristics just like China is a democracy with Chinese characteristics. Chinese heros respect women. He is a protector of his country and his family (i.e. wife/girlfriend, kids, parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts etc) . He would carefully choose one woman and stick with her for the rest of his life. No messing with white women or black women. Just one Chinese woman will suffice. Chinese people might enjoy James Bond as far as fighting goes but when it comes to moral values……………no sorry.

    • cp4ab0lishm3nt says:

      Celina Jade is not a “white” girl. She’s Chinese. Father is American and mom is Hong Kongnese. Celina grew up in Hong Kong, speaks impeccable English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. She’s living in Hong Kong.

  5. Haggler says:

    They must have collaborated with the bs Xinhua chinese propaganda newspaper their tagline is “whoever offends China will be hunted down”. Haven’t seen the film but the trailer looks obnoxious and the cast so unlikeable

    • jianada520 says:

      Well, let me correct one point that “whoever offends China will be hunted down” is distorted by BBC. It should have been translated “whoever attacks China will be hunted down”. It originally comes from a book of the Great Han dynasty. BTW, Do not leave any parochialism political comments on a movie site without watching it. Pride and Prejudice (Libtard)will ruin your life and get you controlled by political ideology. Open your heart and mind people.

    • Fortnight says:

      So, I saw the movie, and I don’t know who the hell added that tagline “whoever offends China will be hunted down” but it was nowhere to be found in the movie. It was a 90s action movie complete with F-bombs, one-liners, and mixed martial arts. If you want to be entertained for 2 straight hours, give this a shot.

  6. Jingso says:

    Good action sequences, passable plot and acting.

    We all know this movie is fictional because the real Chinese (from mainland China) will never do anything “humanitarian” without the underlying self-serving motivation for gaining more power and money.

    • Cind says:

      WW2 is inspired by evacuations of Chinese civilians in Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. Some of the scenes in the film were based on true stories in 2015 when China’s navy evacuated almost 600 Chinese citizens and 225 foreign nationals from port of Aden in southern Yemen. You should make yourself more knowledgeable of world events mate.

      • Dave C says:

        This is such a load of crap. Man of Steel is inspired by the September 11 2001 attacks. Plenty of movies are inspired by real events, but they’re still fictional, including an over-the-top action movie with an ass-kicking action hero flipping tanks upside down. A movie like 13 Hours is a dramatization of actual events, Wolf Warrior 2 is not a dramatization.

  7. Make Movies Great Again says:

    CCP propanda crap. Stop screening this crap in cinemas and show us movies people actually want to see

    • True Heros Respect Women says:

      Make Movies Great Again, all you want to see is white “heros” conquering women of all colours. Sorry we don’t want to see those Hollywood crap. Some people even suggest Wu Jing should bed the white girl in WW3. I’m sure he won’t because a womanizer is not someone we Chinese audience look up to as hero. In China, a true hero is not only physically strong but also morally strong. He takes relationships seriously and will have only one woman in his life. China and the West have opposing values. What westerners consider pride (the more women the better) is shame for us. We value a man’s loyalty to his wife and his ability to take responsibilities for his family including parents but westerners seem to think that loyalty is a weakness or a lack of masculinity. Leaving parental home ASAP and being promiscuous are signs of “maturity” for you.

    • DON'T MESS WITH CHINA says:

      The same could be said about your crappy movies like “Captain America” those propaganda shit!

      • bill morin says:

        hey now..to be fair here, Captain America was Cheesy garbage..Wolf Warrior ! was good, Wolf Warrior 2 was pretty awesome..and i’m from America. Wu Jing kicked serious butt in this Movie. If he teamed up with Rambo? the World would be a heck of alot more fun. I appreciate the Portraying this as a Humanitarian situation and too bad China and America were not on better terms like that.

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