May 28th 2020LATE ONE night this week, Chaguan brewed strong green tea and rewatched the highest-grossing film in Chinese history, “Wolf Warrior 2”.
LATE ONE night this week, Chaguan brewed strong green tea and rewatched the highest-grossing film in Chinese history, “Wolf Warrior 2”. This action flick is both preposterous and oddly compelling, offering clues about the sort of China that modern-day patriots yearn to see on screen. That China is formidable. At one point the film’s hero, Leng Feng, a retired Chinese commando, uses a home-made crossbow to take on African mercenaries armed with tanks. Then he kills their American boss, a murderous racist who—moments before Leng punches him to death—sneers: “People like you will always be inferior to people like me.” The China of the film is self-confident. A crowd-pleasing scene shows warships of the People’s Liberation Army steaming towards a war-torn, pandemic-stricken corner of Africa to evacuate Chinese citizens, past American warships fleeing in the opposite direction.
The China of the movie is respected. A climactic scene sees the hero halt a battle by sticking a Chinese flag on his arm and holding it aloft. He then leads a convoy of Chinese and African refugees to safety between two rival armies, as awestruck commanders bellow: “Hold your fire! It’s the Chinese!”
Three years after its release, this noisy fantasy is back in the news. In an era of crises, from a global pandemic to an ever sharper contest between China and America, Chinese envoys…