The patriotic actioner, which was directed by and stars martial artist Wu Jing, has taken advantage of China’s ban on imported foreign films during the summer to rack up a third colossal week at the top of the Chinese moviegoing charts.
The militaristic movie’s domestic weekend grosses since its July 28 opening have climbed to $683 million. According to Variety, Wu’s 2015 Wolf Warrior made only $89 million on release in China.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that Wolf Warriors II “is now the third highest-grossing title of all time in a single territory, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million) and Avatar’s ($750 million) historic runs in North America.”
Inspired by the freeing of Chinese people by the nations’ military in Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015, Wolf Warriors II depicts a China dedicated to protecting its nationals whenever they might be stranded in the world’s hotspots.
Wu’s character Lu Feng is a disgraced member of the Wolf Warriors, an elite special forces unit. Having served time for attacking a land developer who had menaced the family of a dead colleague, Wu is holed up in an African port—shades of James Bond in Skyfall—where he broods over his missing lover Long Xiaoyun (Yu Nun), presumed dead.
When a band of vicious mercenaries working for a revolution surge into the African city, Lu starts to rescue his countrymen. He soon transforms himself into a two-footed army of resistance. The nationalistic narrative is an excuse for back-to-back battle scenes involving hand-to-hand combat, drones, and tanks.
American Frank Grillo hams it up as Big Daddy, the mercenaries’ vicious leader, while Lu’s allies are played by Chinese-American actress Celina Jade (as a Doctors Without Borders type), Wu Gang, and Hans Zhang.
Variety’s Joe Leydon has likened Lu to such jingoistic national heroes as those played by John Wayne (as in The Alamo) and Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo. The character obviously testifies to China’s current ebullience on the geopolitical stage. Doubtless, the rumblings from North Korea have strengthened the demand for a resilient Chinese superhero who can take on all-comers.
As of August 11, Wolf Warriors II had made $1,198,837 in the U.S. and stands 111th among 2017’s money-earners in America. The film’s producers at Beijing Dengfeng International Media won’t be too fazed by that statistic.