Wolf Warrior 2 (2017)
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The film's biggest draw, of course, is Chinese action-superstar Wu Jing. As a leading man, Wu Jing is kind of a perfect package. He has the pretty-boy looks to draw the female crowd but also a natural, convincing tough-guy persona. As a trained martial artist he has the physicality of Donnie Yen and the on screen charisma of Jet Li. Most importantly, Jing plays the kind of action hero that's just all too rare these days, the one that takes just as much punishment as he dishes it. Yet he sells it with the kind of world-class commitment that is simply awe-inspiring, like Jackie Chan or Tom Cruise who repeatedly endanger themselves simply to entertain their audience. It's all rather impressive until you realize he also directed the movie.
Still, there are minor flaws. Like every other Chinese films of late, flashbacks and dramatic scenes are rendered like bad 90's soap dramas – cut to slow-motion with colored filter, bad sound FX and obvious sad music cues so laughably bad its beyond parody. Noticeable green screen work occur here and there, as well as some obvious bad CGI during explosions. However these are minor occurrences that shouldn't detract from the overall experience.
Modern action films have become too sophisticated for its own good. Plots are overly convoluted with unnecessarily complicated character backstories, bloated runtimes, headache-inducing shaky cam action chopped up into indecipherable bits, lead actresses have to be badass fighters to be a strong female and villains having overly complex motivations to be evil. Wolf Warrior 2 is a reminder of simpler times, where it's perfectly OK to have a straightforward story backed-up by identifiable character archetypes, damsel-in-distresses who gets saved by the male hero without being considered weak and inferior to them and cartoonish, two-dimensional villains who just enjoy being evil. Like, its OK if the male protagonist becomes a lone, one-man killing machine who takes out an entire army. It's not realistic but who cares? As long as it's fun. In a summer where we've had a loud, incomprehensible Dunkirk, a War of the Planet of the Apes without enough war and an insufferable Spiderman: Homecoming filled with obnoxious Marvel fanboy worship, consider Wolf Warrior 2 a fresh alternative - a perfectly satisfying old-school action film that won't tax on brainpower but won't disrespect your intelligence either.
1. almost unrelated opener fight scene just to grab attention.
2. illogical decision makings such as breaking into where the hostages are held in a car, which could just kill as many innocent people, including the key rescue target
3. left any other hostages to die, without proper explanations, leaving me in awe... And they did die horribly.
4. The biggest mid-cliffhanger might be how the protagonist restores his health. Alahhh, exactly The Last of US, only that the little girl was given no character.
5. Boss fight scene needs some extended featuring, thus the boss is such a good kung fu fighter. And yes exactly when he gained the upper hand and said something disrespectful, he was killed by our hero.
To be honest I'm good with the 2-hour length of action with some nice sparks of affection and light-hearted humor. However, I'm lightly fed-up by the strong nationalism in this film. As a Chinese, I would love to learn that China is improving in all aspects, but this fantasy film shovels the concept into your face.
Dont watch this
Having been in anticipation of Wolf Warrior 2 since February, Wu Jing's work doesn't disappoint. Generous with the servings of choreographed close combat action, big guns (tanks) and firepower, Wolf Warrior 2 does impress!
However, that's when it got me thinking. Does it always have to be that loud to be eye-catching? The larger than life action while appreciated, deserves questioning for its hyper-realism.
Propagandist tinges, like the first, were clearly evident. There were scenes which were clear to me that was dedicated at stirring nationalistic sentiments, invoking pride, dignity and a sense of empowerment among Chinese nationals. Amidst the wide Chinese diaspora and prominence as a superpower, Wu Jing is not ashamed to chide America as a power of the past through this film.
Overall, Wu Jing certainly make this sequel louder and larger than the first. "Once a wolf warrior, always a wolf warrior." Nationalism, the centrality of China and her military/economic/political prowess were featured prominently. Firmly announcing "Watch out for China," Wolf Warrior does pinches at time, in propagandist tones.
Think less, enjoy the action :)
Pro-tip: Stay till after the end of the film. Bonus footage and trailer await.
The UN prevents China from acting in the African conflict so Leng Feng is forced to act on his own. He sets out first to save Dr. Chen, a scientist who has been studying a deadly disease known as Lamanlan. The physicians are held hostage by a ruthless gang of mercenaries led by Big Daddy (Frank Grillo). The evil Russian mercenary Bear (Oleg Prudius) interrogates the doctors and Dr. Rachael Smith (Celina Jade) tries to cover for Dr. Chen, but the Bear executes some of the prisoners. Athena (Heidi Moneymaker) is another mercenary who assist Bear when Leng Feng crashes in to save the doctors. Dr. Chen dies but he asks Leng Feng to protect his daughter Pasha (Diana Sylla).
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However, the story and the acting were abysmal! So corny and fake, I felt I was watching a propaganda film from 30 years ago. The story felt very unnatural and concocted, and the audio was terrible. The actors were trying way too hard, clearly with no direction at all.
In the end, the action scenes alone were not enough. My entire family was left with a horrible feeling, and we were left scrambling to find another good movie to get the bad taste out of our mouths.
What a mess; between the poor writing and the poor acting, it seemed like the longest 2 hours of my life. There appears to be no plot; other than people are continuously getting killed in vivid technicolor. The good guy's kill the bad guys; then, the bad guys kill the good guys; and then, the bad guys kill the bad guys.
The propaganda angle in this movie is pretty blatant; with statements like "they're at the Chinese funded hospital" instead of "they're at the hospital". The original script for this movie must have been "enhanced" by CCP hardliners within the Chinese government before they decided to shoot the movie.
As for the abundant 10/10's I'm seeing on this site ... I'll assume that they're employees of the production company, CCP hardliners or friends of the actors.
It's something like this:
Some of the reviewers: The story of this movies is so phoney! Wu: Why don't you criticize the Hollywood movies that are as phoney as mine? My movie promotes patriotism. You who don't like my movie are bastards, traitors and go suck the cocks of your western masters!
Yes, Hollywood produces quite some garages every year. But even if EVERY Hollywood movie were garbage, won't prove that YOUR movie is NOT garbage. Even if the whole story is about to promote patriotism, there are plenty of good movies, but, unfortunately, not this one.
First off, China doing humanitarian aid out of generosity, without an agenda, is fiction. The whole China culture, historically, and persisting until today, is always about what actions benefit themselves. The naive may think China is generous with so-called investments to developing nations like African countries, but the underlying motive is to create jobs for Chinese workers who would revolt against the government as the domestic economy is slowing down over time.
Now that we understand the agenda of this movie, let's talk about entertainment value. The action scenes are quite well choreographed, with generally coordinated martial arts fights which are nothing new if you have watched many other Chinese-language movies. So are the explosions and dramatics which we have seen so often in Hollywood movies. With regards to the story, acting and script, these are the movie's weakest points. When you have one egotistical person with money to spend, writing, directing and acting without much high caliber professional supervision, you get a movie like Wolf Warrior 2. This is a movie that is a B- at best, and the box office success in terms of gross is misleading given the size of China's population to whom these types of propaganda movies are targeted. The rest of us, we see it as what it is. A mediocre attempt at showing China's rising influence through monetary means, but very little through sincere generosity. That is why Wolf Warrior 2 lacks foundation because the basis of China helping others is only fiction.
It is good in action scenes, but the nationalism elements are too strong which makes it embarrassed.
I don't know why people necessarily brand this as propaganda and as a Chinese nationalistic movie. When did Hollywood ever not using nationalism in their action movies? It's full of it! When Hollywood does it, it's considered cool, but when China does it, it's called brainwashing propaganda? Thats a wee little bit hypocrite.....
Parts of the movie are based on live events as some African nations are indeed scorned with internal tribal wars and viral epidemics. As for China has numerous investments in Africa for the past decades, the impact of internal African turmoils on Chinese businesses is evident and real. Recently China even established a military base in the African continent, and Chinese navy patrols African seas regularly to protect commercial shipments from robbery.
So even though this movie is a popcorn over the top action flick, it is actually inspired by current day events and the impact it has on Chinese merchants in Africa.
But looking past the political backdrop, it is just a darn well made action movie that deserves its recognition and should run in mainstream theaters worldwide!
I mean, it features a Chinese man staring down a Chinese tank and a rebel army identified by their red scarves! Combined with jokes about the USA military leaving its citizens to die in Africa, it is clear that actor-director Wu Jing is out to "troll" western(-ized) film-makers and audiences who have lost their sense of humor and self-awareness to a climate of hate speech laws and political correctness.
Especially for those film-makers desperately trying to "insert" a flag or product wherever possible... It must be absolutely "triggering" to see Wu Jing unapologetically expanding upon a real-life premise where having a Chinese flag/ passport is completely natural and pivotal to the plot; as well as brandishing all manner of Chinese products (e.g. last generation armaments supplied to Africa).
So despite ostensibly being inspired by the numerous emergency repatriations successfully executed by the Chinese military in Africa (Libya 2011, Yemen 2015, etc.), this is a fictional and romanticized story (a la "Romance of Three Kingdoms") created to feature a series of larger-than-life characters, sly social commentary, and most importantly, action-movies set-pieces!
The 1st Act is almost a marvel of economical and visual story-telling in that it recaps the ending of Wolf Warrior 1, introduces the background to Wolf Warriors and summarizes what Chinese repatriates went through in Africa with minimal dialogue and maximum editing... It's clumsy but it works, if only because you can't look away from the relentlessly climbing body count.
The 2nd Act is where the fun starts as it nonchalantly (i.e. "blink-and-you'll-miss-it") ticks off every action movie trope it can squeeze in-- keep up with me if you can: car through wall-check, self-sacrificing adult-check, girl to save-check, bodybuilder throws people-check, hanging on car-check, bike on rooftop-check, booby trap wire-check, armed surveillance UAVs-check, wargaming with models-check, etc.; and whenever the action does stop to get on with the story for a few minutes, you should still hang on to see if you catch the jokes or commentaries Wu Jing has slipped in there.
The 3rd Act is basically one long, multi-stage, escalating action sequence (involving a crossbow, rifles, tanks, missiles and fists; in that order) where "story-telling by montage (or music-video)" takes over... And it's a marvel of action movie writing(story-boarding?) and pacing-- provided you can get over not knowing exactly how the rescue chopper was co-ordinated or the missile strike was executed, etc.. Much like the better kung-fu action movies, it arguably gets "one-up" over most action-movies by simultaneously being grittier (more practical effects, actors doing stunts, etc.) AND more stylish ("full-contact" close-ups, hand-held cameras chasing actors).
Data for online ticket-purchases in China seems to show that the audience for "Wolf Warrior 2" (2017) comprised almost 70% graduates (& above) with only 15% being in the teenager/ student demographic, i.e. the opposite of what would be expected of a pop-corn or blockbuster movie-- which I see as indicating that Chinese audiences have been waiting for a cheeky/clever (Chinese) subversion of the "American action movie"... so "laughing along with Wu Jing" is probably the best mindset to have for enjoying this movie!