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Wolf Warrior - Rambo With Chinese Characteristics

China is abandoning its principle of "hiding its ability and biding its time" which it stuck to since 1990. Chinese diplomats were once known for their conservative, low profile. But the world and Chinese diplomats have changed. In some Westerners' eyes, Chinese diplomats are using "Wolf Warrior" style diplomacy, named after the 2015 patriotic action film and its 2017 sequel. This seemingly has made the West feel challenged. Those Western people said the tone of Chinese diplomats has become increasingly more strident and combative. As China rises and walks close to center stage of the world, facilitated by the relative decline of the West, many Western countries are feeling uncomfortable. What is behind China's perceived "Wolf Warrior" style diplomacy is the changing strengths of China and the West. China seems more confident in consolidating its global position, and believes that the general hostility of the United States is blocking its way.

In the origianl "Wolf Warrior" [Zhan lang], Leng Feng - Chinese Rambo special force soldier with extraordinary marksmanship skills - confronts a group of deadly foreign mercenaries who are hired to assassinate him by a vicious drug lord. In 2015, "Wolf Warriors" turned out to be the biggest dark horse in the movie market at that time.

It was not the typical Chinese movie, with a plot that doesn't make sense and only exists so that there's a purpose for fighting - absolutely beautiful but with no plot whatsoever though. Wolf Warrior was not a typical chinese movie. As one of the oldest, and most influential Chinese film genres, wuxia films are mostly based on novels written by famous martial arts authors such as Jin Yong and Gu Long. The earliest films on such a theme could be traced back to 1920s. Wuxia which literally means martial hero or martial chivalry in Chinese, tell stories of those who wander around the realm and combat evil. Most of the heroes in wuxia fiction and films do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. In many ways, this makes them comparable to the cowboys of the western genre or the samurai and ronin of Japan's chanbara movies. Heroes in wuxia films tend to use swords or other weapons in fighting the enemies and they often have supernatural powers. However, characters in kung fu movies usually fight with their bare hands and possess no supernatural powers.

Martial arts heroes stick to benevolence, fight for the righteousness and eliminate oppression, which are concepts that originate in Confucianism. As a reflection of Daoism, martial arts heroes value loyalty over wealth and power, and when they achieve what they want, they intend to retire from the world and live a peaceful life in the woods. Traces of Buddhism can also be seen in this genre, as the heroes always have a kind heart and don't hurt innocent people.

In the sequel "Wolf Warrior II", China's deadliest special forces operative was wandering for his life in Africa, serving as a mercenary providing security to passengers. One night in a pub, Feng and his local friends were attacked by European mercenaries aiming to overthrow the African government. Chinese nationals were in great danger, and the Chinese fleet arrived to evacuate them. But some Chinese workers were still stuck in a factory and a doctor who knew the deadly Ebola-like virus Lamanla was stuck in a hospital. Leng Feng must return to his duties as a soldier and protector. As the struggle continued, the wolfishness in his body gradually recovered, and eventually broke into the war zone alone to fight for the compatriots. "Once a wolf warrior, always a wolf warrior" !" The fight scenes, chases, and suspense are well done and the movie never seemed to stop the action. Acting was not Oscar winning but sufficient.

In addition to the scene where the protagonist Leng Feng led the Chinese factory workers to drive through the war zone with the five-star red flag, the Chinese passport displayed on the big screen at the end. "Citizens of the People's Republic of China: When you encounter danger overseas, don't give up! Please remember that behind you, there is a strong motherland!" The scene of Wu Jing finally holding the five-star red flag through the war zone was based on a true story that has happened in reality. In 2011, the evacuees from Libya confirmed that they passed the militants and government forces safely with the national flag as a Chinese passport.

The movie is interspersed China feel-good themes - national pride, respect of China from others, participant in international law - and not ashamed to chide America as a power of the past through this film. Stunning audiovisual effects contributed to Wolf Warrior II's popularity. To create the maximum impact, the film used Hollywood technical expertise the underwater camera crew who had shot the Walt Disney hit Pirates of the Caribbean, action directors who had guided Captain America III, and soundtracks by Hollywood composer Joseph Trapanese and New Zealand director Peter Jackson's audio effects team.

The release timing was impeccable. The film hit the stalls ahead of the 90th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the perfect time for a patriotic military film. Wolf Warrior 2 created a new box office record, raking in 5 billion yuan. By Aug. 18, 140 million people in China watched the film, surpassing the Titanic to become the most viewed film in a single market. A review published by BBC called Wolf Warriors 2 "the Chinese box office hit that is equal parts testosterone-fuelled machismo - think blazing guns, explosions, and tanks - and chest-thumping Chinese patriotism."

"Like Sylvester Stallone before him, and John Wayne before Stallone, star Wu Jing has successfully exploited the crowd-pleasing potential of enhancing militaristic action-adventure heroics with a heavy dose of flag-waving patriotism," Hollywood trade paper Variety said in a report about the film. "The big difference here, of course, is that the flag waved by Wu and others in this shoot-'em-up extravaganza is that of the People's Republic of China, and Wu's heroic Leng Feng is not a Green Beret, but rather a once and future member of his country's elite Wolf Warriors special ops unit."

The poster of this film uses the slogan "Those who violate China will be punishable even if they are far away." In the film, it shows a large number of China's advanced weapons and the ability of the Chinese military to perform long-distance missions overseas to protect citizens and deter the enemy. An audience member said after watching: "The Chinese should be like this! We must let foreigners know how good we are!" Many netizens also commented that the Chinese army has made Chinese citizens more confident.

Xinhua News Agency, "People's Daily", and CCTV all praised the film, saying that the film is "a heroic chapter with passion and loyalty". "The commendable thing is that it has been recognized by the audience for its organic unity of ideology, artistry and appreciation. Won high box office, and won the respect of the market." There are reports that in some theaters, the entire audience at the end of the film stood up and sang the national anthem.

Zhu Dake, a professor in the Department of Cultural Criticism at Tongji University, believes that the film "Wolf Warrior" series clearly highlights patriotism and is completely consistent with the main theme of the current state. He said, "The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television is very pleased to have such a theme movie and it has achieved commercial success. This has never been done before. In the past, the theme movie was usually organized to watch. But Wolf Warriors 2 did not need to organize watching With so much box office revenue, the SARFT suddenly discovered a new breakthrough."

Contrary to the high box office in China and the one-sided praise of the mainstream media, the box office of "Wolf Warriors 2" was dismal after its release in the North American market, and English reports and comments on "Wolf Warriors 2" were almost all centered on " The keywords of "nationalism" and "patriotism". In addition to the challenges of different cultural contexts and tastes, a Chinese-style superhero prototype, relying on the narrative of "The Rise of China", focuses more on political and ideological differences.

The New York Times review suggested that "Its success is seen as a sign of the rise of nationalism nearly five years after President Xi Jinping took office. Xi Jinping advocated hawkish patriotism and warned that Western forces wanted to bully China and make it yield. "Those who offend China will be punishable even if they are far away," so far this old saying has been used as propaganda in two movies featuring Leng Feng."

Another controversial detail in the film is the text on the back of the Chinese passport in the play: "Citizens of the People's Republic of China, when you are in danger overseas, don't give up! Remember, behind you. There is a strong motherland!" Said that many viewers were excited and weeped when they saw it. The literary critic Zhu Dake commented: "That paragraph is completely forged. But it is chicken blood in chicken blood, the theme of the whole movie, that is, wherever you are, the motherland is taking care of you. This is right. The forgery of the passport is too straightforward. If you type a line of subtitles, its okay. I think its much better than the lie that is printed directly on the passport to become the passport itself. In fact, Chinese passports are not seen in many places."

Zhu Dake concluded: "Flagging the banner of patriotism is actually a nationalist mentality. The rise of nationalism is because we have been trapped in a kind of National inferiority complex. If it is a very confident nation, it does not need to use this method to emphasize that I am awesome. The more I emphasize that I am awesome, the inferiority is very deep and cannot be shaken off."

Zhu Dake believes that both technically and culturally, China has long experienced the status of a backward country. However, after economic improvement in recent years, China has bought many things through money. "But the real strength is really not economic strength." Zhu Dake pointed out. "The real strength is not military strength but cultural strength. I think this movie amplifies military strength, thinking that a military force can settle all the contradictions in this world. This is actually a misunderstanding."

"This is a turnaround for the Chinese after years of being crushed by Hollywood-made heroes on the screen," Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the popular tabloid Global Times, wrote in a column. The People's Daily, the main official newspaper of the Communist Party, praised the film as a "box office miracle."

Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming in an interview on CGTN's "Agenda" on 31 May 2020 stated "I don't think it's correct to characterize China diplomacy as "wolf warrior diplomacy". I think China's foreign policy remains the same. China is a peace loving country since ancient time. Our philosophy believes that harmony is a top priority. That's still our philosophy guiding our foreign policy, especially in modern time. President Xi proposed that we should build a community of shared future for mankind. That is our policy. You talk about the wolf warrior. The reason why there's a warrior fighting wolf is because there are wolves in this world. There're so many rumors, disinformation and fake news about China. Chinese diplomats need to stand up and speak out, to set the record straight, to tell people the true stories of China. So I do not regard myself as a wolf warrior. I regard myself as Chinese Ambassador in the UK building a stronger relationship between our two countries. But when there are rumors, some disinformation and fake news about China, I myself will and I also encourage my diplomats at the Embassy to speak out, to set the record straight."








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Page last modified: 13-09-2020 17:13:22 ZULU