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  Wolf Warrior II A Different Kind Of SuperpowerBuy this film here.
Year: 2017
Director: Wu Jing
Stars: Wu Jing, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade, Wu Gang, Hans Zhang, Yu Qian, Yu Nan, Chunyu Shanshan, Ding Haifeng, Oleg Prudius, Heidi Moneymaker, Aaron Ly, Ann James, Diana Sylla, Aaron Toney, Norbert DuBois, Scott Adkins
Genre: Action, Thriller, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Leng Feng (Wu Jing) has moved to Africa from China after an incident in his home country where he used to be in the State Army. He had been called on to deliver the ashes of a fallen comrade to his family, yet on arrival he was angered to see the poor family was about to have their home knocked down by an unscrupulous developer; Leng intervened but went too far and killed the businessman and thus was discharged from his post. That was three years ago, now he is off the coast of Africa helping out cargo ships under threat from pirates, which he carries out with both a neat line in underwater kung fu and an eye for the perfect shot that makes him utterly unbeatable...

Just as well, for Leng Feng is the very embodiment of China in a follow-up to the belated Chinese Top Gun, Wolf Warrior, which made no secret of the fact as a director and star Wu was keen to craft a franchise out of these ultra-patriotic efforts, much in the way the Fast and Furious series was a worldwide hit. That was not especially jingoistic, more keen on bringing together its "family" of disparate characters to battle crime, at least in its latter stages, but the Wolf Warrior items were blatantly backed by their government in a way that the United States military would help out movies that needed their hardware and manpower back in the nineteen-eighties, as long as they were benevolent.

Not benevolent towards the Soviet Union, of course, benevolent towards the United States policies at home and abroad, and this practice of endorsing action flicks as long as they had a propaganda element was both nothing new and continued into the twenty-first century. China was truly embracing the possibilities, however, to a degree of what could be to some eyes pretty obnoxious, and even if you did not object you may feel trepidation at this mixture of mass entertainment and wholehearted support of the parent country's military might. Not least because by this stage Wu was trying out an impersonation of Tom Cruise at his most resistible, grinning and pointing a speciality.

Therefore you had to put up with a lot of self-regard from the star, and if the rumours of his bad tempered reaction to anyone who believed he was being a state sycophant were true, then perhaps the Wolf Warrior movies were best ignored by everyone other than those who shared his political leanings. And yet, just as with Cruise's Mission Impossible series (another influence), he managed to cram in some genuinely impressive action sequences which tended to salve the discomfort brought about by watching a leading man with his beliefs and practices, as if this propensity for flinging himself about redeemed Wu and allowed totalitarianism to look like a wholly reasonable path to ruling a billion people. However, there were other issues, and Wolf Warrior II's setting in Africa (just Africa in general) was a problem.

According to this, the continent was populated by two types of citizen: villains and victims. The Africans (again, no specific country in itself) would either be hopelessly corrupt and violent, or helpless and childlike in the face of guerrillas and rampant disease, so everyone with brown skin we saw here was handily split up into those two categories. The meatier roles went to the Chinese or European/American stars, as Frank Grillo was the chief villain, an evil Yank who was a mercenary in case you were wondering if the movie was gunning for an international incident by depicting U.S. foreign policies as actively evil, and not only that but there was a baleful Russian in the mix as well who Grillo had joined forces with, ticking off two boxes of superpowers the Chinese were concerned about. Yes, that action was pretty great, Wu showing off impressive moves and pulling off nutty stunts like flipping a tank, but there was a pretty major caveat; fair enough, the American film industry did this too, but that did not make it palatable to see others get in on the act. Music by Joseph Trapanese.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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