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September 01, 2015

Wolf Warrior

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Wu Jing - 2015
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

This may not have been entirely intended, but Wu Jing's Wolf Warrior made me think of that discarded Hollywood genre, the military adventure movie. Older cinephiles will have memories of a time, primarily from the middle of World War II through the mid-Sixties, when movies were made about men at war. These were not epics, but small or mid-range films more concerned with male camaraderie and fulfilling a mission. There was some acknowledgment of lofty ideas and ideals, but those were dispensed with in a sentence or two. Not to make Wolf Warrior seem like a much better film than it is, but in its own way, it's close to the spirit of a film from Raoul Walsh, with its hero who's known to operate independently of authority, but also knows when to pull for the group.

The film is about a group of soldiers, the elite of the elite, who in the midst of war game exercises find themselves in real battle with an army of mercenaries that work on behalf of a drug kingpin. The newest member of the Wolf Warriors, Leng, is a sniper who killed the kingpin's brother. While Leng is the target of the mercenaries, led by a former American veteran, known as Tom Cat, it's a battle between the two armies, finally ending with the inevitable encounter of the two enemies. For those looking for a display of martial arts between Wu and Scott Adkins, it comes near the end. Most of the fighting comes in the form bullets, bombs, and big explosions.

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There are a couple of moments that should have been reconsidered. Before fighting the mercenary army, a group of the Wolf Warriors encounter a pack of wolves. Aside from the wolves being mostly computer generated, the scene pulls the film into an unnecessarily supernatural direction. Also, it is revealed that the drug lord is working on some kind of bio-chemical scheme with some kind of formula that will attack only those with "Chinese genes".

I wish Yu Nan, who displayed her own martial arts ability with Wu Jing in Wind Blast, had done more than show up in uniform, as the commander of the Wolf Warriors. The film is essentially a vehicle of Wu Jing, and as such, is an improvement over Wu's directorial debut, Legendary Assassin. As the chief bad guy, Scott Adkins snarls, sneers and never bothers to disguise his British accent.

A sequel is promised at the end of the credits. Fortunately for those concerned, Wolf Warrior was a major hit in mainland China. The film was made with the cooperation of the Chinese military, and the nationalistic elements are not too different from what might have been found in a World War II era film from Hollywood.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at September 1, 2015 03:45 PM