Wolf Warrior2: Beyond Superhero
Dominating the domestic box office, Wolf Warrior 2 has been a record breaker since its release: It grossed over 100 million yuan in four hours, over 1 billion yuan in 85 hours, 3.4 billion yuan in 11 days and 5.4 billion yuan in 35 days. It beat every other Chineselanguage movie in the world in box office receipts and garnered critical acclaim around the world.
The film is based on a true story of Chinese nationals in Africa being evacuated by Leng Feng, a veteran who risked his life to save his compatriots as well as refugees, and lacks big stars or heavy marketing.
In 2016 when its box office growth slowed, China’s film industry reached a bottleneck and began struggling to transform. Many are working to analyze how Wolf Warrior 2 performed so well.
As an action film featuring a moving plot, Wolf Warrior 2 has reached top global production levels. The 123-minute movie blessed big screens with hundreds of explosions, pieces of state-of-the-art weaponry and heart-stopping chases. According to Sam Hargrave, the movie’s fight and stunt coordinator, they destroyed more than 100 vehicles in addition to two 20-ton fullsized tank models and an airplane replica.
The production process was unimaginably difficult. “Half of the crew was bitten by poisonous spiders,” declared Wu Jing, director and the lead actor of Wolf Warrior 2. “The animal trainer was bitten by a lion, and the drivers were robbed.” Their adventurous, painstaking efforts ultimately paid off with a blockbuster that blew away box-office records. The filmmakers captured moviegoers’ hearts by feeding their eyes with a quality film crafted under the strict discipline of a director overseeing a devoted crew that performed meticulous design and addressed every detail.
From Rut to Roaring
Alongside the strong words on paper, the spiritual core of the script is another secret to the film’s success.
In recent years, Chinese audiences have been less interested in traditional patriotic films even if they feature big stars. Most studios are stuck in a rut.
“The industry must adapt to the young generation who don’t think the same as their elders who grew up in the era of rapid growth shortly after introduction of the country’s economic reform and opening up,” comments Xue Jing, a senior movie critic. “The Wolf Warrior series opted to spearhead a path for collective imagination to shift the language environment from ‘weak’ to ‘strong.’ We are strong today, not the weak we used to be, so there is a gap in the tastes of ‘weak’ and ‘strong.’”
Traditional voices, modern demand and Chinese images have been sewn between the lines, twisting the identity of “weak” and “strong,” and allowing space for all viewers of every age and from every background to relate emotionally.
New Order in China
In recent years, the world has seen rising anti-globalization and protectionism trends due to slow economic progress, evidencing, to a certain extent, the nonsustainability of capitalist ideology and economic order, which has posed the need for new breakthroughs.
What this film aims to promote behind its “nationalism” is free trade to align with ongoing globalization rather than isolation, which goes against the current. Global communication as such can be seen not only in big picture realms such as the scientific and technological assistance represented by Dr. Chen, but also in the economic trade detailed in small markets and big factories. The circulation of commodities has enriched the lives of African people materially; the flow of information supported Leng Feng, the hero who sought spiritual revenge. The fair and legitimate aspects of free trade are acknowledged properly.
The greatest success of Wolf Warrior 2 isn’t necessarily its domination at the box office. It has set a new standard for all of its successors. It’s not trying to imitate Hollywood by creating a superhero in tights who happens to look Chinese. It creates a whole new image for the country.
Xue Jing believes that against the back- drop of the era, Wolf Warrior 2 has depicted a fresh image for China, both domestically and internationally, which is a profound development. “From a nationalistic plot, the movie created space for imagination far beyond Western scope by underscoring the importance of global free trade order and the establishment of moral rules featuring Chinese characteristics,” Xue added. “Domestically, it integrated different groups; internationally, it sculptured a complete Chinese image. It speaks responsibly as its country becomes a great global power. These are factors that make the film so superb and inspiring.”
A still from Wolf Warrior 2. By September 1, 2017, a little more than a month after its release, the movie had grossed over 5.5 billion yuan. VCG
The production process was unimaginably difficult: Half of the crew was bitten by poisonous spiders; the local driver they hired was robbed; and they endured a tsunami... “It’s finally done!” exclaimed Wu Jing, director and the lead actor of Wolf Warrior 2. “At least I’m still alive.” IC