For his second film as director, action star Wu Jing brings a military action film that combines the pride of China with perhaps a nod to 80’s military action films, notably the Missing in Action films.
Leng Feng is an Army sniper who on a dangerous assignment to stop a dangerous drug dealer, Wu Ji, disobeys orders. Instead of standing down and waiting, he proceeds to get the job done and assassinate the hot-headed dealer. This incident causes Leng to be court martialed and sent to solitary confinement. However, he is given a second chance when he is offered a position to join an elite squadron of the China Special Forces known as the Wolf Warriors.
Under the leadership of Long Xiaoyun, Leng Feng may seem like a hero to some, but to some of his newfound comrades, they see a cocky arrogant soldier without getting to know his true nature. A field test involving both the Wolf Warriors and Leng’s old group causes a bit of resentment towards the new Wolf. However, that all will change. Wu Ji’s older brother, criminal villain Min Deng, has hired a band of foreign mercenaries led by Tomcat to find Leng Feng and kill him. The two rival troops now must unite to take on the mercenaries in an all-out war that goes beyond simple revenge.
Wushu champion turned action actor Wu Jing is quite the person to watch. Once hailed as the successor to Jet Li, he has taken a different approach in the films he makes. Five years after he made his directorial debut with Legendary Assassin, Wu returns to the director’s chair in a film that is a military action thriller that has the feel of an 80’s Hollywood military film and we’re talking more akin to Missing in Action rather than the greats like Full Metal Jacket and Platoon.
Wu brings the character of Leng Feng as someone who is more or less solely military-minded due to the fact his father was once a soldier. Even while in solitary confinement and at risk of being out of the army, he still has that mentality of being a soldier, but instead of a hard-head, he’s more relaxed. Yu Nan, of The Expendables 2, plays the commander who gives Wu his second chance and it is clear throughout the film she has some sort of attraction towards him. While this proves to be quite unnecessary, it does make a good breakaway from all the seriousness of the film.
If you don’t know the name Scott Adkins by now, seriously, it’s time you did. He always makes the most of his screen time and here, he pulls it off once again as the lead villain of Tomcat, the leader of a band of foreign mercenaries. While Adkins doesn’t get to pull off his trademark moves that he’s known for, he adapts extremely well with the use of firepower and even some close quarter combat, something we will get to see him pull off again in the soon to be released Close Range for his usual collaborator, director Isaac Florentine.
Former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li, who co-directed Legendary Assassin with Wu, served as action director and does a decent job of serving up the action. With help from the Chinese military themselves, the war scenes are quite entertaining. However, one has to ask a question. How is the Wu-Adkins fight scene? Well, there may be a bit of a complaint that Wu does resort to using some wire assistance for some kicks and there is a good reason. Wu has had a very nagging leg injury and the wires are used only for his safety. Adkins does show some kicks, but don’t expect anything resembling Undisputed III or Ninja II. As mentioned, their fight is more of a close quarter style but still done to good effect for its production value.
Wolf Warrior is definitely a good time-waster with two of the finest on-screen fighters today. While there may not be a major kickfest with a military backdrop, the overall action is not as bad as one would think. Definitely worth checking out if you like military action films in the vein of Chuck Norris’ Missing in Action trilogy.
WFG RATING: B
A Chunqiu Time Co. production in association with Beijing Dengfeng International Culture and Nanjing Military Area Command of the TV Art Centre. Director: Wu Jing. Producers: Lv Jianmin, Wu Jing, and Ji Daoqing. Writers: Wu Jing, Liu Yi, Feng Wu, and Yao Ji. Cinematography: Peter Ngor. Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai.
Cast: Wu Jing, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan, Ni Dahong, Zhao Xiaoou, Liu Tengyun, Zhang Yongda, Kevin Lee, Chris Collins, Joseph Eninganeyambe, Kyle Shapiro, Samuel Thivierge.