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China has selected mega-blockbuster Wolf Warrior II as its submission for the best foreign-language film category at the 2018 Oscars.
The film is easily the most financially successful movie ever to be submitted in the Academy Awards category. Written, directed by and starring Chinese martial artist and multi-hyphenate Wu Jing, Wolf Warrior II has earned an astonishing $851.6 million in the Middle Kingdom since its release on July 27. Only one film has ever earned more from a single market — J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens (2015) with $936.6 million in North America.
A crowd-pleasing patriotic action flick, Wolf Warrior II follows a former Chinese special-forces operative (Wu) as he battles bloodthirsty Western mercenaries to save Chinese civilians who have gotten caught up in an African civil war. American actor Frank Grillo (Captain America: Civil War, Warrior) plays the film’s villain, while American-Hong Kong actress Celina Jade is the female heroine.
News of the film’s selection was first carried locally by China’s state-backed newspaper Global Times.
Wolf Warrior II was co-produced by emerging powerhouse studio Beijing Culture, China Film Group, Bona Films and others. While a distinctly Chinese success story, traces of Hollywood’s influence can be detected on the final product.
Marvel mainstays Joe and Anthony Russo, co-directors of the Captain America franchise, consulted on the film via their Chinese studio venture Anthem & Song, which has strategic partnership with Beijing Culture. The Russos are understood to have introduced Grillo and some of their usual stunt team, led by veteran action coordinator Sam Hargrave (Captain America: Civil War, Atomic Blonde), to boost the production values of the film’s fight scenes. Many attribute the film’s local success to this seamless combination of Hollywood production polish and rousing, authentically Chinese storytelling.
China has been nominated in the best foreign-language film category twice — for Ju Dou (1990) and Hero (2002), both directed by Zhang Yimou — but the world’s most populous country has yet to bag an Oscar.
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