After the enormous success of part one, director/star Wu Jing decided to follow-up his jingoistic, military-heavy action film with yet another round of bigger, bolder and louder action in this sequel. Employing many of the same themes as the original, yet enhancing the spectacular action attributes from it’s lead star, ‘Wolf Warrior 2,’ or under its original name ‘Zhan lang II,’ emerges as one of the most purely enjoyable old-school action movie throwbacks in the genre.
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Hoping to retire to a quiet life, Leng Feng (director Wu Jing, also from part 1) finds himself thrust into action when Chinese and African forces collide in the middle of a Civil War. During the course of battle, he finds himself tasked with rescuing several civilians behind enemy lines including Rachel Prescott Smith (Celina Jade, from the TV series “Arrow”) who is trapped behind enemy lines on a medical relief mission. Finding that the efforts are led by Big Daddy (Frank Grillo, from “The Purge: Anarchy”) he sets out to put his skills to use one last time to save her and the rebels from the oncoming rebel forces.
Frankly, as an action film, there’s very few flaws with this one. The simplistic screenplay, courtesy of the team of Dong Qun, Gao Yan, Liu Yi and Wu Jing, essentially allows for a nonstop series of action scenes which become wholly enjoyable. From the opening underwater brawl to the exhilarating shootout in the supermarket and the brutal guerrilla warfare out on the streets full of civilians, the film packs a punch with it’s high-concept action scenes. Lovably choreographed by Sam Hargrave, these scenes allow Jing to display plenty of prowess and capabilities in his scenes running, jumping, leaping from explosions, handling firearms or hand-to-hand martial arts skills. Given the variety on display here, this over-the-top display becomes even more impressive in the final half when all the forces are brought to bear here and this becomes much more fun. Trapped in the bunker and basically amounting to full-on war between the different sides, the over-the-top gunplay and explosions provide plenty of firepower to end this on a high-note.
The cast is nothing special, but performs admirably enough. As the lead Leng Feng, director Wu Jing allows himself to look good in the action scenes as well as the humanistic ideals. Every good idea comes from him and he has to save the day, a ploy which is expected, but means he stays even-keeled throughout and doesn’t strain himself. His companion Rachel Prescott Smith, played by Celina Jade, is the typical damsel-in-distress for most of the movie. Thankfully, she is not the shrieking violet type who gets captured, but she spends a good part of the film needing rescue. She doesn’t add much to ‘Wolf Warrior II,’ but at least she doesn’t disappoint. The only other noteworthy character is the main villain Big Daddy played by American star Frank Grillo. He carries a more intellectual than physical presence as the mastermind behind the rebels as he rarely gets involved fighting others. He is a bit of a disappointment in the final brawl due to his lack of skills that Jing carries but it’s a cathartic fight more than anything and ends this nicely. Everyone else doesn’t really stand-out or embarrass themselves, serving as either bullet-fodder or compassion means for the most part.
The film does play like more of the same only bigger, louder and grander which can make this feel like a retread more than anything. Once more, the Wolf Warrior forced to grandiose combat sequences can make this sequel seem like part 1, especially in regards to its jingoistic message. Since Feng is the only one allowed to save the day, he can be overbearingly heroic during many of the scenes where he alone is the only major force to get things down. This is aided by the final half where it’s overlong and way too false endings simply to make Feng the hero of the day which drags this out way too much for its own good. This really could’ve used a shorter run-time to help provide a clearer resolution and ease down these touches considerably. Beyond these issues, there’s not much wrong here.
Granted, this does feel more of the same of what came before it, but the film’s sense of fun overall makes it a more than worthy effort overall. On the whole, this emerges as recommended viewing for any fan of the original or those who enjoy these over-the-top action set pieces, although fans who find fault here would be wise to heed caution with this one.