While Chinese films are given a chance to shine in July - a month in which foreign films are traditionally kept from Chinese mainland cinemas - not many could have predicted that Wolf Warrior 2, a film with few well-known stars, would steal the spotlight after its debut last Thursday.
The third directorial work of Chinese action star Wu Jing, the film earned 306.7 million yuan ($45.5 million) on Saturday, the second highest single-day take ever for a domestic film and the sixth-highest single-day take for any film at the mainland box office.
Even more surprising, Wolf Warrior 2 released on the same day as The Founding of an Army, a State-backed historical war feature directed by famous Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau that stars more than 50 Chinese pop idols. Founding also comes in time for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China on August 1.
A sequel to 2015’s Wolf Warrior, which was also directed by and starred Wu, Wolf Warrior 2 shifts the story from China to Africa as Wu’s special commando character heads to rescue Chinese nationals on foreign soil.
So far reviews have been fairly positive.
Wu Jing is a person who knows how to make a standard genre film well. All the money was spent where it should have been for an action film. Wolf Warrior 2 is exciting, has a fluent story and feels like a blockbuster, Chinese film blogger Dianying Yingshi Pinglunyuan wrote on Sina Weibo.
Wolf Warrior 2 continues the style of Wolf Warrior, which was a hot-blooded action film. This film has even bigger scenes. The fight scenes are great and Wu Jing is the perfect fit for soldier roles, Diudiu, a Chinese netizen posted on Chinese media review site Douban.
While the first Wolf Warrior film made a total of 545 million yuan in 2015, the sequel has already collected an estimated 850 million yuan over the four days since its Thursday premier. The grades for the first film versus the second are 6.8 vs 7.5 on Douban and 7.0 vs 7.4 on Chinese movie site Mtime.
Besides being an exciting action film, Wolf Warrior 2 is heavily patriotic, which may be another reason why is has caught the attention of so many Chinese moviegoers.
’Those who offend our Chinese nation will be punished no matter how far away they are,’ - This line from the film continues to linger in my mind, netizen Tianxin posted on Douban.
The same line appeared in the first film as well.
The end of the film shows the cover of a Chinese passport accompanied by a short message: "Citizens of the People’s Republic of China. When you encounter danger in a foreign land, do not give up! Please remember, at your back stands a strong motherland."
According to a report on ent.sina.com, moviegoers who saw the film last Thursday in Shanghai were moved by this message. This message has also resonated among Chinese citizens living abroad.
According to the report, at the US premiere, a Chinese woman said the message was very moving for her. Although she grew up in Singapore, she does not regret keeping her Chinese citizenship, "Because in my heart I know where my roots are and where I belong."