Leng Feng is back. And this time… it’s personal… and predictable? In all honesty, I’ve spent much of childhood on films like Wolf Warrior 2. Needless action. Deus Ex Machina romance. And heavy, over the top explosions. There’s a tremendous amount to be said about Wu Jing’s action sequences and special effects, and it’s difficult to turn away from his patriotic altruism. But after leaving the theater, it was hard to call Wolf Warrior 2 something unique from anything I had seen before. But, upon further reflection, I realized that Wolf Warrior 2 doesn’t quite obey the tropes I was used to seeing. I was never used to seeing the asian male hero, who ends up getting the asian girl and displaying badassery all throughout. The films I watched growing up displayed the asian male villain with sinister motives with the asian girl at his side, who serves as his pawn only to end up joining the white male hero in the end (or something like that).
It’s very difficult to recommend Wolf Warrior 2 for any classroom due to the level of violence, but it certainly might have its place for folks reflecting on their positionality and stereotypes. The film was advertised to me as China’s Rambo and I believe that that is the best way to describe the film. But, calling it China’s Rambo goes a lot further than the guns and the explosions. The film displays asian men in powerful physique and courageous prowess. We see this from Leng Feng, the former chinese special forces officer on a mission to protect the weak in Africa, to Zhuo Yifan, the son of a military factory owner armed with an arsenal of sharp and deadly weapons.
It feels cool to be the asian guy now. But, despite the fact that the film provides an asian male with powerful physique, it definitely leave something to be desired with the depiction of other minorities including women and blacks. The film ends up succumbing to a lot of stereotypes that allow the asian men stand out. The supporting asian woman is depicted as thin and exotic looking; and the supporting black men wear basketball jerseys and exhibit needless anger over things like basketball games or drinking competitions. The characters in these roles feel seemingly trapped in their stereotypes and act accordingly in order for Leng Feng to shine, which leaves a lot to be desired for a critical audience. Wolf Warrior 2 is China’s Rambo (1980) and a major milestone in Chinese cinema. Our only hope is that further films inspired by this one will help evolve the Chinese action industry quicker to making characters from all backgrounds more than just stereotypical and even harmful depictions.
I give Wolf Warrior 2, a 4/10