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This film managed to break all the Chinese box office records to become the highest grossing film ever in the Chinese market. When you watch it without knowing that, you might be tempted to guess that it is just another run of the mill martial arts films that are a dime a dozen in China, with plenty of military fetishism and patriotism. Compare it to previous holders of the China revenue top spot, “Fast and Furious 7” or some “Transformers” or the other, or even some Chinese titles that took the box office by storm over the last years, it is very very stunning that this film has done the same. It is, without judging, a very simple action film, along the lines of some “Expendable” aesthetics, but without that franchise’s star power, stripped-to-the-bone scripts, or production values.

The script of “Wolf Warrior 2” is utter pants, as is the whole setting, the editing and most of the cgi. You only recognize a mature narrative structure when it’s not there, and here it so much not there that you stumble across plot point after plot point, not because it would be terribly contrived (ok, there’s that, as in Dr Chen’s ability to cure whatever virus they cure), but because it is clumsily implemented (same virus: our hero got it, and then he suddenly ungot it, but the script forgot to be excited about it). There is stuff… the odd setting within a Chinese community in “Africa” (wherever that may be), for instance, which feels like an alien spaceship landed in an exotic country. Maybe this is just the way it is? There is a tank battle that looks as if kids filmed it on an abandoned junk yard with some hi-def video camera they nicked off their uncle. There are some very decent hand-on-hand combat scenes, though, and much was made of the Russo brothers input as advisers on the stunt and action work of this film. Most notably, the very opening sequence is clearly where they spent most effort to get a grip on the audiences, an underwater fight between our lead hero and some anonymous pirates off the coast of Africa. From there onward, drama and quality is deteriorating. The film has quite a few remarkable elements, but most of them are remarkable in all the wrong ways: there is Frank Grillo, for example, who seems to be so well known even though it seems I have hardly ever seen him in anything… he hopefully has a chance to have this entry expunged from his IMDB record, or he did at least earn enough money to send his kids through college. I checked Wikipedia, he has three sons, he needs the money.

On the brighter side, there is Celina Jade who plays Doctor Rachel, kind of the female lead, and always dressed in tattered half-transparent tops in a completely ridiculous but visually appealing way. Given she is a rather competent and attractive bilingual actress, I am surprised I have not seen more of her before. Perfect co-production co-star. And of course Wu Jun. He has the star power of a Matt Damon or Tom Cruise, with the ability to convey having the right moral compass, but still the ability to act as a ruthless killing machine if need be. He is a very competent as a fighter, and given the right choreography, he performs some impressive set pieces. They are not held together in any coherent manner, but given the box office results  that should not give him a headache. The preview for Wolf Warrior 3 was already included in the credits of this part 2, so whatever criticism the film endured ricocheted off its armor like a bullet off Wu Jing’s vest…

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