Saturday, 10 February 2018

Wolf Warrior II

Cast: Jing Wu, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade

Director: Jing Wu

123 minutes (15) 2017
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Cine Asia Blu-ray region B

Rating: 6/10
Review by Ian Shutter  

Made in 2015, the first Wolf Warrior movie introduced a commando marksman, Leng Feng (Jing Wu, directing himself). Its story concerned various mercenaries, working for a drug baron, hired to kill the isolated hero, and a subplot involves the hero falling in love with a Chinese army leader Long (Nan Yu, The Expendables 2). In sequel Wolf Warrior II, a prologue establishes Long’s capture and disappearance, presumed killed by foreigners.

Meanwhile, piracy in the Indian Ocean kicks off when a trawler’s fishing nets are used to stop a cargo ship that’s under Chinese protection. There’s an underwater fight sequence that’s made to look like a single-take with kung fu choreography, and it outdoes many of the frogmen scenes in some of the James Bond movies. 

Three years after his ‘dishonourable’ discharge from the Chinese military, Leng (director and star Jing Wu), interrupts a raid on African civilians by mercenaries employed by rebel forces. He then volunteers for a rescue mission to save hostages from brutal Big Daddy (Frank Grillo, Captain America sequels, Beyond Skyline). With the key hostage turning out to be Dr Rachel Smith (Celina Jade, Legendary Assassin), this movie’s basic plotline owes much to Tears Of The Sun (2004). Made on locations in South Africa, this Chinese picture offers a hectic catalogue of breathlessly choreographed stunt work, martial arts mayhem, and a great batch of amusingly devised shoot ‘em ups.

With his stuntman’s daring, and directorial prowess, fast-rising star Jing Wu seems to be positioning himself as a natural 21st century successor to the aged Jackie Chan. Since his screen debut in Yuen Woo-ping’s Tai Chi Boxer (aka: Tai Chi 2, 1996), where his credit is Jacky Wu, he’s appeared alongside Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, and Simon Yam, in Wilson Yip’s police thriller SPL: Kill Zone (2005), and then starred in Dennis Law’s Fatal Contact (2006), about underground boxing. Only about 20 years time, and a ton more new Asian action movies, will finally decide whether Jing Wu really is a suitable replacement for the near-legendary Jackie Chan, but his star qualities and his movie work so far, following or cutting across genre lines, is exemplary.

Although its broad strokes are weakened by some typically mushy Asian sentimentalism, there’s a dramatic UN helicopter crash, plenty of explosions and, perhaps, almost enough stunts with army-sized firepower displays to impress even Michael Bay. Inevitably, a final punch-up ensues between Leng and the mercenary villain. Before that, look out for Heidi Moneymaker (Scarlett Johansson’s stunt-double as the Black Widow) in a fine supporting role. A twist-ending reveals that Leng’s lost-love Long might still be alive and sets up the likely plot for another sequel. Let’s hope this is produced, as it would certainly boost Wu’s career prospects to add a proper trilogy to his CV. 

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