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'Wolf Warrior II' howls in Hollywood

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-17 07:31

And many of his countrymen agree.

Although Wu may still be learning the narrative nuances that would enable his films to appeal to international audiences as well, Chinese audiences voted with their wallets, sending Wolf Warrior II snarling to a record-breaking first place as the highest-grossing movie in China's history.

"Wu Jing's sturm und drang is making Hollywood sit up and take notice," Grillo says.

"I've got about 15 calls from Hollywood-studio people, casting people and producers, asking, 'Can Wu Jing speak English'. Wu Jing can do anything. He's breathing very thin air right now and is in a room with very few other people."

Celina Jade, Chinese-American singer-turned-actress, who plays the beautiful doctor in the movie, echoes Grillo's words.

In an interview, she recalls: "Wu Jing called me the very last minute and said: 'I'm doing a movie and I need a lead actress. Can you fly tonight?' I really wanted to help because my acting career wouldn't exist if it weren't for this guy pushing me forward... I knew this was my opportunity to help him back.

"On top of that, my mom is Chinese, and she was worried I was losing my heritage and roots. She wanted me to do it."

She emphasizes that Hollywood has noticed this movie is far more technically sophisticated than a typical B-movie and easily outstrips Wu's franchise-founding predecessor, Wolf Warrior. That's because Wu clearly styled himself after Stallone's Rambo with more than a pinch of Jackie Chan thrown in for good measure.

"It is an amazing movie first," both Grillo and Jade say, using the same words, before the controversy.

The film uses high-level cinematography, complete with sweeping aerial and crane shots, massive underwater and high-action military set pieces. It features deadly drones, seagoing vessels and marauding tanks.

There's also no shortage of gut-pummeling, hand-to-hand combat scenes and elaborate stunt sequences designed by Marvel's top stunt master, Sam Hargrave (Captain America, Hunger Games), along with China's fight-scene choreographer, Wai Leung Wong (Operation Mekong).

Hargrave says: "It's a big movie and a big challenge. With 50 to 100 explosions, it's like the Fast and Furious-with a tank!"

Clearly, Wu's type of explosive, flag-waving, nationalistic action-adventure strikes a deep chord with Chinese audiences.

What remains to be seen is whether, like Jackie Chan before him, Wu Jing can make the leap from homegrown superstar to a global box-office draw.

Grillo has a hypothesis.

"The next iteration for Chinese and American cultures is: we go in and make movies that both cultures can connect to."

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