Eschewing overwrought nationalistic propaganda in favor of non-stop, balls-to-the-wall action, Wolf Warrior 2 is a superior sequel that hits the ground running from the start and never lets up. From the opening Captain Phillips-inspired pirate underwater takedown, a convenience store fight, a jeep-chase through a shanty town to a factory gunfight at night and another at daytime, there's enough action here to fuel three Michael Bay films. The Russo Brothers (directors of Captain America sequels) apparently consulted on the action, hence its high production values. Other positives include Celina Jade as the female lead and Frank Grillo as the villain, a racially diverse cast respectful of its premise set in Africa as well as moments of levity and broad comedy that should appeal to a wide audience.
The film's biggest draw, of course, is Chinese action-superstar Wu Jing. As a leading man, Wu Jing is kind of a perfect package. He has the pretty-boy looks to draw the female crowd but also a natural, convincing tough-guy persona. As a trained martial artist he has the physicality of Donnie Yen and the on screen charisma of Jet Li. Most importantly, Jing plays the kind of action hero that's just all too rare these days, the one that takes just as much punishment as he dishes it. Yet he sells it with the kind of world-class commitment that is simply awe-inspiring, like Jackie Chan or Tom Cruise who repeatedly endanger themselves simply to entertain their audience. It's all rather impressive until you realize he also directed the movie.
Still, there are minor flaws. Like every other Chinese films of late, flashbacks and dramatic scenes are rendered like bad 90's soap dramas Â– cut to slow-motion with colored filter, bad sound FX and obvious sad music cues so laughably bad its beyond parody. Noticeable green screen work occur here and there, as well as some obvious bad CGI during explosions. However these are minor occurrences that shouldn't detract from the overall experience.
Modern action films have become too sophisticated for its own good. Plots are overly convoluted with unnecessarily complicated character backstories, bloated runtimes, headache-inducing shaky cam action chopped up into indecipherable bits, lead actresses have to be badass fighters to be a strong female and villains having overly complex motivations to be evil. Wolf Warrior 2 is a reminder of simpler times, where it's perfectly OK to have a straightforward story backed-up by identifiable character archetypes, damsel-in-distresses who gets saved by the male hero without being considered weak and inferior to them and cartoonish, two-dimensional villains who just enjoy being evil. Like, its OK if the male protagonist becomes a lone, one-man killing machine who takes out an entire army. It's not realistic but who cares? As long as it's fun. In a summer where we've had a loud, incomprehensible Dunkirk, a War of the Planet of the Apes without enough war and an insufferable Spiderman: Homecoming filled with obnoxious Marvel fanboy worship, consider Wolf Warrior 2 a fresh alternative - a perfectly satisfying old-school action film that won't tax on brainpower but won't disrespect your intelligence either.