I thoroughly enjoyed the first Wolf Warrior film and gave it a glowing review back in 2015. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but its over the top spectacle appealed to the action junkie in me. So, when a sequel was announced, following the huge success of the first film in its native China, I was eager to see it.
Wolf Warrior 2 sees our hero Leng Feng (Wu Jing) stripped of his military title and jailed for a short while (I think – it never dwells on this) after he kills a gangster who was terrorising the family of a soldier comrade who died in the line of duty. Once out, he moves to Africa to get away from his troubles, as well as to get to the bottom of who killed his fiancé (the only lead he’s got is an unusual bullet). There however, an evil group called the Red Scarf Gang are trying to overthrow the government and kill everyone in their way whilst they try to achieve this. They attack Leng’s town and although he takes a few rebels out, he tries not to get too involved, instead helping his friends (and Godson) get to safety at the Chinese embassy. They’re safe there as the rebels want to keep global superpowers happy if they are to maintain a stranglehold on the country. Before Leng and the rest of the Chinese inhabitants are shipped back to their home country though, the ex-Wolf Warrior hears that an important doctor is still in danger as well as workers at a Chinese-run factory. The Chinese military aren’t allowed to intervene due to UN restrictions, but Leng says he’ll go in alone and bring everyone back. Once he starts picking off rebels though, Leng becomes the prime target for the Red Scarf’s strike force leader, Frank Grillo, who doesn’t agree with his boss’ insistence on leaving the Chinese alone.
As with most action blockbuster sequels, Wolf Warrior 2 is pretty much more of the same, just amped up to 11, and is all the better for it. From the blistering and bonkers opening sequence, you know you’re in for a good time that eschews logic and physics for thrills. In this taste for things to come, we see two boats of pirates attempt to hijack a cargo vessel, before Leng dives into the water and takes them all out singlehandedly – many being beaten up underwater! This is all done in one long take (with hidden cuts of course) where the camera swoops around the boats, dives underwater and ends up following a rocket heading to blow up the second boat of pirates. It’s a thrilling opening and the film rarely lets up after this. There’s plenty of action spread from start to finish, but not too much to get dull or repetitive. There’s a nice mix of hand to hand, knife, gun, tank and other forms of combat to keep things interesting as well as an exciting car chase.
With all this explosive, ludicrously over the top action, the film has the feel of some of the big action classics of the 80s. Like in those, the story, dialogue and performances are nothing to shout home about, but there’s an awful lot to enjoy if you’ve got a taste for silly, overly explosive military violence.
Like the first film, my main criticism with Wolf Warrior 2 is its overtly propagandist tendencies. The patriotism on display gets a bit much, with a finale seeing Leng use his own arm as a flag pole for the Chinese colours as his Jeep powers between a war zone, ushering a cease-fire on its trip. The whole film is a display of China’s military strength as all the heroes are Chinese, despite being set in Africa. There are many sympathetic African characters, but none actively save the day like Leng and his small band of Chinese and Chinese-American friends.
This overly zealous patriotism is commonplace in mainstream Chinese cinema though, so it doesn’t bother me too much. I just find it amusing most of the time to be honest as it’s so blatant. Propaganda it may be, but weren’t most of our beloved 80s action movies flag waving affairs too? If you enjoyed the Rambo films, Commando and other similar fare back then, you’re sure to love this. Packed to the gills with ludicrously over the top action, it’s an adrenaline-fuelled treat.
Wolf Warrior 2 is out now on Limited Edition Blu-ray, DVD, DVD boxset (with Wolf Warrior co-starring Scott Adkins) and Digital Download, released by Cine Asia. I watched the Blu-Ray version and the picture quality is decent, although there seemed to be some frame rate issues at times and some stock footage shots showed up, looking a bit blocky. Audio was solid though. There are a few featurettes included on the Blu-Ray too (but not on the DVD I believe).