Chinese superhero dominates box office

Xinhua
 "Wolf Warrior 2," a domestic action film, has kicked up a storm at China's box office, generating strong word-of-mouth buzz since its release.
Xinhua

 "Wolf Warrior 2," a domestic action film, has kicked up a storm at China's box office, generating strong word-of-mouth buzz since its release.

The film starring Wu Jing as Leng Feng, a former Chinese Special Forces operative, tells the story of Leng's adventure into Africa's war-torn regions occupied by insurgents and mercenaries to rescue his compatriots and African friends.

Hitting screens on July 27, the film surpassed the 2-billion-yuan mark as of Friday, topping China's summer box office.

The total box office revenue is estimated to reach more than 3.8 billion yuan (about 565 million U.S. dollars), a new record for the world's largest film market, according to Maoyan, a major film database in China.

Imaginechina

Wu Jing (center), director and a leading role in the movie "Wolf Warrior 2," poses with fans at a screening of the movie in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, on August 4. 

A dark horse

"Wolf Warrior 2" scored 7.5 out of 10 points on Douban, a popular movie rating platform in China.

But the phenomenal hit was not a blue chip before its premiere, with several big-budget domestic films scheduled for the summer including "The Founding of an Army" and "Wukong."

Stills and tidbits of the film soon went viral on social media after its release, including on Weibo and WeChat .

"A lot of my friends with different tastes for film recommended it to me, so I decided to give it a shot, which proved a very wise choice," said Lyu Guo, a moviegoer.

Word of mouth soon catapulted the film into the spotlight, triggering a box office explosion.

On July 30, the film took nearly 360 million yuan (about 54 million U.S. dollars), a new single-day record for any Chinese film.

"I'll give it a ten [points], because it is a superb blockbuster and has changed my views on domestic films," said Wang Yingzi, a student at Tsinghua University.

A Chinese superhero

The film's action scenes, featuring underwater kungfu, gun fights, car chases and tank battles, culminate with a hand-to-hand brawl between Leng and a supervillain, which gripped the audience like a James Bond or Jason Bourne.

"We had military training before starting shooting. Most of the action scenes were done by actors, instead of stuntmen," said Wu Gang, who portrayed a retired Chinese soldier.

"Wolf Warrior 2" is inspired by true events.

China's evacuations of nationals and foreign citizens from conflict-ridden countries such as Yemen and Libya have been applauded by the international community in recent years.

Since 2008, over 80 Chinese Navy vessels have patrolled the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, ensuring the safety of more than 6,000 domestic and foreign ships.

"A person can only feel safe abroad when his motherland is stronger. I have such respect for our People's Liberation Army after watching the film," said Cang, a Beijing moviegoer.

The film received standing ovations by Chinese nationals in some Canadian cinemas.

"After watching the film, we went out of the cinema with our heads held high," said Song Weiya, a Chinese national who lives in Toronto, Canada.

The audience resonated with Leng Feng's heroism, as well as a sense of honor as the citizens of an ever-stronger nation that is China, said Yin Hong, a film industry analyst and professor at Tsinghua University.

"The film achieved a good balance between the two sentiments. That's one of the major reasons for its success," Yin told Xinhua.

A trailblazer

Despite overwhelmingly positive feedback, not everyone is a fan.

Leng Feng's invulnerability was seen by some as a big plot hole.

"The hero seemed ridiculously invincible in the film, with no regard to physical laws and common sense," a user commented on Douban.

"Superheroes are rarely seen in Chinese films. It takes time for Chinese moviegoers to accept and get used to the logic in such stories," said Yin. "Heroes also seemed invincible in films such as 'First Blood.'"

"The patriotic fervor also needs to be mitigated if the film aims at international success," Yin added.

"These pitfalls are minor compared with the progress the film has made. After all it explored new possibilities for Chinese films," said Song. "We finally have our own Jason Bourne."


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