Wolf Warrior 2 became the biggest grossing film ever at the Chinese box office after collecting a massive $571 million after 14 days.
The action movie took the crown from Stephen Chow's fantasy phenomenon The Mermaid, which earned $527 million during its theatrical run last year. Wolf Warrior 2 also relegated The Fate of the Furious, the most successful Hollywood title in China ever, down to third place.
Wolf Warrior 2 started big with a $130 million debut, but it has really turned heads with its second weekend gross of $161 million.
Wolf Warrior 2's performance is even starker as the first film in the franchise, released in 2015, made a so-so $89.1 million. Moreover, the film was released in the summer months in China, not traditionally seen as a period to make box office hay. The Chinese New Year holiday season, which usually falls in late January and early February, is still the most lucrative period in the release calendar and can turbo charge earnings as it did for The Mermaid did in 2016 and Jackie Chan's Kung Fu Yoga ($252 million) earlier this year.
Despite its summer release, Wolf Warrior 2 has been the biggest beneficiary of the summer blackout of Hollywood films in China, an attempt by the authorities to give local productions a clear run. But the lack of foreign competition alone doesn't account for the stellar success of Wolf Warrior 2, judging by social media engagement the film has struck a chord with Chinese audiences with its overt patriotism and intense and top-quality action scenes.
Written, directed, produced and starring Wu Jing, the film reportedly cost $30 million to make and co-stars Hong Konger Celina Jade and token Hollywood import Frank Grillo (an upgrade on Scott Adkins from the first film). The action takes place in Africa, where a team of Chinese special forces is tasked with freeing their compatriots being held by mercenaries.
An undoubted domestic triumph, there are Hollywood fingerprints on the film. Joe and Anthony Russo, co-directors of the Captain America franchise and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, were consultants on the film via their Chinese studio venture Anthem & Song, which has a strategic partnership with Beijing Culture Media Company, one of the local production companies behind Wolf Warrior 2. The Russos' go-to stunt team, led by veteran action coordinator Sam Hargrave, were a key element behind the highly praised action and fight sequences in Wolf Warrior 2.
Likened to Rambo, Wolf Warriors 2 unashamedly harkens back to the testosterone- and patriotism-fuelled Hollywood films of the 1980s, but this time with a Chinese hero saving the day.