As mainland China has risen in the last two decades, it has remained firmly behind the United States in one key area: action movies. No matter how hard they seem to try, if the action movie isn't set during the Qing dynasty, it ends up being a steaming pile of Mǎ shǐ.
The Wolf Warrior series is the latest Chinese attempt to unseat the dying Hollywood tradition of a big budget explosion fest, and it fails harder than the Belt and Road initiative.
The plot of Wolf Warrior is simple: A high-speed Chinese sniper, Leng Feng, disobeys orders and kills a bad guy, thus saving lives. After this massive misstep of disobeying authority to win, he is sent to the brig, where he gets recruited to play OpFor with the PLA's red team, the 'wolf warriors'. During his first field exercise, a group of American mercenaries decide to attack the bulk of the PLA army to kill Feng as revenge for his heroic deeds at the start to the film. Yes, that is as stupid as it sounds.
The poster of the first Wolf Warrior filmWolf Warrior
The sequel, Wolf Warrior 2, is set in a unnamed African country. After Feng's actions in the first film, he heads to his dead comrades house. There he runs into one of the censor-approved domestic bogeymen — corruption. After kicking a corrupt landlord into a windshield he is drummed out of the PLA for his vigilante actions, and moves to Africa to forget his past. After there's a revolution against the unnamed African Government and their Chinese partners (there to spur economic growth), Feng finds himself fighting for his life to save innocents in a war torn country.
The portrayal of the American mercenaries is really the fun part of both these movies. These operators are straight-up killers. These kitted out mercs are introduced in the first film by massacring a platoon of elite PLA counter terrorism troops, without taking so much as a hit. In the second film, it's basically the same group, just with *gasp* a blonde female sniper.
The poster of the slightly better sequel Wolf Warrior 2
There aren't any subtle messages in these films. They are pure in their intentions, and that intention is to show that China is good, morally right, and the PLA is unstoppable and decked out in the latest and greatest weapons. The closest American analogy really isn't Rambo. It's Chuck Norris.
Rah rah American films like Invasion U.S.A and The Delta Force gave American audiences a similar cheese-fest of patriotism and explosions. And Wolf Warrior 2's record Chinese box office of 874 million proves that Chinese teenagers also have an appetite for black and white stories of national heroism.
Maybe someday China will find itself embroiled in a low-intensity land war in the middle east, and we can all make fun of the Sino-equivalent of TheHurt Locker.
These films are easy to make fun of, but they are cultural signals of the great power competition that is taking center stage between the US and China. If you want some insight into the PLA mindset, take a gander at these two films, both of which are streaming on Amazon.
But if you are looking for actual entertainment, you should probably look elsewhere.
The Pentagon's chief spokesman is refusing to say whether the last ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen a day after President Donald Trump announced the caliphate's demise for the fourth time in as many months.
"Wherever ISIS exists, we will continue to pursue them with our partners and allies in the region," Charles Summers told reporters on Thursday at a Pentagon media event.
When asked if the fight to clear ISIS from Syria's Middle Euphrates River Valley has ended, Summers replied, "We continue to fight against ISIS wherever they may be."
Never bring a knife to a gunfight. Unless you're John Wick, in which case you can bring whatever the fuck you want — a pencil, a katana, a stolen horse, a set of antique knives, a crotch rocket, or a pair of flak-jacketed war dogs.
Either way, the result's going to be the same: John Wick is the only one walking away from that fight.
Should your friend and humble Pentagon correspondent live for another 50 years, you can expect to read a Pentagon Run-Down in 2069 about how many U.S. troops President George P. Bush III plans to leave in Syria. (Assuming, of course, that Joe Biden doesn't run in 2068.)
Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that up to 1,000 U.S. troops could make up the residual force in Syria. The Pentagon pushed back on that story unusually hard, presumably because defense officials are terrified that Trump will think the military is trying to force him to commit more troops to Syria.
A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber from the US Air Force Andersen Air Force Base in Guam performs a fly-over at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore February 14, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Chong)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Thursday complained that flights by U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers across the Baltic Sea near Russia's borders were creating tensions in the region, but Washington said they were needed to deter potential adversaries.