Wu Jing again stakes his claim as the natural heir to Jackie Chan with the sequel to his 2015 action movie that was a hit in his native China. Starring, directed and co-written by Jing, Wolf Warrior 2 is even bigger and bolder than its predecessor, which doesn’t always work in its favor. But genre fans will definitely relish the near-constant barrage of elaborate set pieces that are choreographed and filmed for maximum impact.
Jing again plays Leng Feng, now living a quiet life in Africa after having left the titular Chinese Special Forces unit under unfortunate circumstances depicted in the previous installment. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t ready to spring into action when necessary, as illustrated by an elaborate pre-credits sequence in which he battles a group of pirates in an underwater fight that could easily fit into a James Bond movie.
Apparently beloved by all of the Africans with whom he comes into contact, even when he beats them at drinking games, Feng doesn’t hesitate to get involved when the country is wracked by a civil war and invaded by a group of bloodthirsty American mercenaries led by Big Daddy (Frank Grillo). He also strives to protect the local Chinese community, since the Chinese government is apparently helpless to intervene due to internecine rules of international engagement.
Although the convoluted plot also involves an epidemic of a deadly disease for which a Chinese doctor (Celina Jade) is attempting to find a cure, it’s basically an excuse for a relentless series of action sequences featuring martial arts combat, gun battles, car chases, a tank battle and pretty much anything else you can think of. The star’s charisma is enhanced by his athletic prowess, which makes the hand-to-hand combat particularly arresting, especially a brutal brawl between him and Grillo (no slouch himself) that provides a fitting climax.
Hard to believe that the director/star needed two collaborators on the screenplay, judging by such lines as Leng’s declaration, “Once a Wolf Warrior, always a Wolf Warrior!” Grillo, too, doesn’t have much to work with, as he’s often reduced to looking sinister while smoking a cigar and issuing such commands as “I want that son of a bitch!” American audiences, at least, may also be put off by the relentless Chinese jingoism on display, although, to be fair, it seems a fair price to pay for such American movie characters as Rambo.
The breathless pacing thankfully doesn’t allow much time for viewers to ponder the plot holes or worry about character development, although the two-hour running time (more than 30 minutes longer than the original pic) results in overkill fatigue. As with Jackie Chan’s efforts, the outtakes during the end credits indicate that the film must have been a lot of fun to make, at least when the performers weren’t getting hurt. And in case fans were worried, a post-credits sequence sets up the inevitable sequel, which, they won’t be surprised to learn, will be entitled Wolf Warrior 3.
Production company: Beijing Century Media Culture
Distributor: The H Collective, Well Go USA Entertainment
Cast: Wu Jing, Frank Grillo, Celina Jade, Wu Gang, Hans Zhang, Ding Haifeng, Chunyu Shanshan
Director: Wu Jing
Screenwriters: Wu Jing, Dong Qun, Liu Yi
Producers: Jiang Ping, Zhao Haicheng, Li Yang, Zhao Jianjun, Xu Zhiyong, Jing Defu, Liu Kailuo, Deng Hao, Wu Yan
Director of photography: Peter Ngor
Production designers: King Man Lee, Wang Ligang
Editor: Kai Fa Cheung
Composer: Joe Trapanese