China, 2015, 91 minutes
Wu Jing (Badges of Fury, Shaolin) both directs and stars in this military action film that debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD this coming Tuesday, September 1st from Well Go USA Entertainment.
His character is Leng Feng, an expert sniper in the Chinese military's Special Forces. During a joint operation between Special Forces and the regular police against drug smugglers in the south, he shoots and kills one of the gang's leaders without authorization. For this he faces a military trial, but ends up being recruited by Long Xinoyun (NanYu The Expendables 2, The Taking of Tiger Mountain), the female commander of the elite Wolfe Warrior Company.
Min Deng is a drug lord who's also involved in human trafficking, weapon smuggling and aiding terrorists. It was his brother whom Feng had killed in that joint operation. When arrested, Min Deng is rescued by a group of non-Asian mercenaries who work for him. Their leader is Tomcat, a former seal played by British martial artist Scot Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty, The Expendables 2, and The Bourne Ultimatum).
Seeking revenge for the murder of his brother, Min Deng tasks Tomcat and his men with killing Feng. Meanwhile he also has plans to obtain some stolen genetic data that could be used to produce variant viruses that would only infect Chinese people!
|Leng Feng (actor/director Wu Jing)|
Feng thus not only has to fight against Tomcat and his formidable force, but also must prevent Min Deng from getting the genetic data out of China. There's not a moment of doubt but that Feng will triumph.
Wolf Warrior is one of the most jingoistic films to come down the road in a long time. A high ranking Chinese officer proclaims that "Those who challenge China's resolve will have no safe place to hide." To really drive the point home, he the line is repeated a second time near the end of the film! Before going into battle, Feng and his fellow soldiers slap patches that read "I Fight For China" (and, yes, the words are in English!) onto their uniforms.
While the film reportedly did very well in China, it doesn't have much going for it as far as Western audiences are concerned. There's lots of weaponry going off and a bit of mano a mano fighting, but nothing very impressive. If you know anything about actual combat and fighting, you may find some things unintentionally comic.
For example, the elite Wolf Warriors don't seem to believe in having anyone walking point, that is going out in front of the main body as an advance scout. Consequently they run right into booby traps and ambushes.
|Mercenary leader Tomcat (Scott Adkins)|
Also, one combatant pulls out a knife that's been sunk deeply into one of his thighs, and continues to engage in hand-to-hand combat. You never pull out a knife that's gone in so deeply unless you immediately are going to tie off the wound. Or if you have a death wish to bleed out.
And Feng's asking Long Xinoyun if she has a boyfriend, on an open line while she's in a command center with many others, is just totally ludicrous.
There's also a really terrible scene in which a pack of wolves attack Feng and his fellow warriors at night. The CGI wolves are rendered rather poorly, and the symbolism -- if that's what it's supposed to be -- of "real" wolves attacking the Wolf Warriors is a silly digression.
All these things could be dismissed if the film were more entertaining, Unfortunately it's not. Wolf Warrior is one of the lamest films I've seen in quite a while. The fact that the People's Liberation Army provided Wu Jing with a plenitude of tanks and helicopters doesn't change it's overwhelming weaknesses in terms of story, acting and plausibility.
The only "bonus" is the trailer for the film.
AsianCineFest Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars, putting it somewhere between fair and poor. It's saved from a single star rating by the at least slightly satisfying fight scenes.
I suppose that if you're a big fan of Wu Jing or Scott Adkins, or both, or if you're in a very non-discerning mood, you might enjoy Wolf Warriors. Like most Well Go USA releases, it'll probably available on Netflix streaming before long. As far as I'm concerned, that's the best way to go if you really must see it. But there are many, many, many better ways to spend your time.
For other opinions, see John Berra's review at VCinema, Ric Meyers' take at his website (Wolf Warrior is the next to last film he reviews, right after Sifu Vs. Vampire) and Masked Avenger's piece at SoReelFlix.