Written, directed by and starring action prodigy Wu Jing, 2015’s Wolf Warrior was a surprise hit and boasted slick, epic and cinematic action. Now, the sequel brings a fresh flavour with world class stunts and choreography from 87Eleven Action Design, the veteran Hollywood stunt team behind John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Captain America: Civil War. This huge success has cemented Wu Jing’s reputation as a force, and filmmaker, to be reckoned with.
To coincide with the UK release of Wolf Warrior 2, we look back at some of Wu Jing's best action roles which helped define his star power...
This modern genre classic is helmed by Hong Kong action legend, Yuen Woo-ping (Once Upon a Time in China, The Matrix), who first spotted our young star. The story follows a martial artist (Wu Jing) inspired by his heroic father to combat the violence of an opium-smuggling ring and win the girl of his dreams, if only it were that easy! Calling on his years of training and time spent as a member of the Beijing Wushu Team, Wu Jing dominates the screen and shares a now-famous showdown with late, great British martial arts actor Darren Shahlavi (Ip Man 2), which reportedly took 16 days to film
A critically acclaimed, action-packed thriller from director Wilson Yip (Ip Man trilogy). Boasting an all-star cast, a straight-arrow detective (Donnie Yen) reluctantly teams with a group of rogue cops to bring down a notorious Triad boss (Sammo Hung). Wu Jing plays Sammo's ruthless assassin and shares a tense, brutal fight in an alley with Donnie, which many consider a real highlight from both stars' careers.
Giving the fight tournament formula an Eastern twist, naive and penniless Olympic champion (Wu Jing) agrees to try his hand on the illegal fight circuit to support his girlfriend. Thinking he can earn a fast buck and leave, he is drawn deeper underground until he can summon the courage to fight back. With tough action choreographed by Nicky Li from the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, Wu Jing trained hard to prepare for his role, received injuries and even said, at the time, it was his toughest work to date.
From popular director Benny Chan (New Police Story), Invisible Target is an exhilarating, fast-paced action thriller showcasing a younger generation of action stars. A group of cops from different backgrounds (Nicolas Tse, Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue) unite to bring down a gang of mercenaries led by a ruthless boss (Wu Jing). The cast, well known for their physical skills, were requested to perform all of their own action and stunts throughout filming, adding to the authenticity.
In a powerful criminal empire, a Triad boss (Sammo Hung), his troubled brother (Simon Yam) and lethal hit man (Wu Jing) work to systematically unravel their enemies, both inside and outside the organisation. Cue plenty of hard-hitting violence and gutsy action. The film presented a wealth of veteran genre stars across its cast, arguably one of the best ensembles from a Hong Kong movie. According to Wu Jing, during fight rehearsals, Sammo would throw him friendly surprise moves to see how he would react. Despite these antics, they enjoy working together and have great mutual respect.
As Wu Jing's first foray into filmmaking, he co-directed this movie with the Jackie Chan Stunt Team's Nicky Li. Combining martial arts, action and romance, as assassin (Wu Jing) inadvertently befriends a woman after his latest kill, not knowing she is a cop. Meanwhile, criminals descend on the quiet island community looking for revenge against the mysterious assassin. This also marked the screen debut of singer, songwriter and model Celina Jade (TV's Arrow, Skin Trade) who would later reunite with Wu Jing for Wolf Warrior 2.
A big box office hit in China, the first Wolf Warrior made an impact with Western fans too, a fun throwback to larger-than-life 1980's action cinema. A loose cannon special forces soldier (Wu Jing) is confronted by a group of deadly foreign mercenaries hired to assassinate him by a vicious drug lord. In the martial arts and ballistic carnage, Wu Jing goes toe-to-toe with the mercenary leader, played by Brit action star Scott Adkins (Undisputed 2-4, The Expendables 2). Writing, directing and starring in the film, it proved to be Wu Jing's most ambitious work yet.
A name-only sequel to Wilson Yip's gritty original, SPL II takes an entirely new story with returning cast members Wu Jing and Simon Yam (Election) playing different characters, plus new cast additions Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) and Max Zhang (Ip Man 3). Combining a tight script with great action, and the cops and criminal themes of classic Hong Kong cinema, the film was well received by fans and critics alike.
Following the success of the original, this proved to be an even bigger hit, breaking global box office records. Reviving the character with a fresh new story, the heroic 'Wolf Warrior' hopes to settle into a quiet life by the sea. But after he crosses paths with a new band of mercenaries, overseen by a volatile and sadistic leader (Frank Grillo, Warrior, Captain America: Civil War), he must reaffirm his duty as a soldier and put an end to the terrorizing of innocent civilians. As the action movie event of the year, Wolf Warrior 2 is a must-see for genre fans and hopefully marks more to come from this exciting franchise.
For tickets and showtimes head to:
ODEON website here