'Wolf Warrior 2' producer talks about foreign media's change in attitude toward the film

By Li Sikun and Chen Xi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/3 17:13:40

Lü Jianmin Photo: Li Hao/GT

Promotional material for Wolf Warrior 2 Photo: Courtesy of Maoyan

No matter if it is a screenplay praising Chinese heroism or dealing with being called "China's Wolf Warrior Diplomat" by foreign media, "we need to and have the right to speak," said Lü Jianmin, the producer of the Chinese blockbuster film Wolf Warrior 2, in response to critiques from overseas media.

Lü told the Global Times that he didn't expect for Wolf Warrior 2 to make Chinese box-office history. 

Starring Chinese martial arts star Wu Jing, Wolf Warrior 2 tells the story of a Chinese special operations soldier who saves medical aid workers from local rebels and vicious arms dealers in an African country.

The 2017 Chinese action film went on to become the highest-grossing Chinese film ever released with a total domestic gross of 5.68 billion yuan ($854 million).

Hostile attitude 

Lü said that the film's high quality was a major factor behind its success, but an even bigger factor was China's prosperity and strong power as well as the Chinese people's national confidence. 

"That national background is like a pile of firewood, and Wolf Warrior 2 was just the fire that helped ignite Chinese people's patriotism," said Lü, noting that he was very proud that the film also attracted the attention of foreign media who came to ask him about the film's production. 

However, over the years, he gradually began to feel uncomfortable when some foreign media began to ask some "unfriendly" questions to him and began to focus less on the film itself than on ideology and even politics. 

"As a filmmaker, I felt sad that they started to politicize Chinese artworks. Just like Zhang Yimou's One Second, they did not talk about the director's love for film stock, but rather focused on the released version being cut one minute shorter."

He pointed out that many foreign media outlets have qualitatively determined an answer before asking the question, which is also asked with obvious hostility and malice.

He gave the example that one French media outlet that recently asked him why the bad guys in Wolf Warrior 2 were all white people, which made Lü think that the outlet was trying to get him to say something about "racial discrimination."

"But the truth is that we could only find some white actors at the time. Their question left me speechless," Lü sighed, adding that he was also once being asked some "ridiculous questions" such as whether the Chinese government invested in Wolf Warrior 2 and if it was the government that asked them to shoot the film. 

Time for a change

Some media overseas have also criticized the film for being "too nationalistic," which Lü thought is not a big deal compared with some Western films from countries such as the US that has made movies, in which the US president leads the American people to fight against evil aliens and save the Earth. 

"It seems that the world's rules are always made by the Western powers, but it is time for us to raise our own voice and our mainstream values. They can praise their heroes and we can use our own way to commemorate our heroes."

Chinese patriotic films have been gaining ground on the international stage recently. 

Wolf Warrior 2 competed for Best International Feature Film at the 90th Academy Awards, while 2020 blockbuster sports film Leap is set to compete at the upcoming Oscars in 2021 according to the film's official Sina Weibo account, which can be seen as a means to show Chinese mainstream values to the world. 

For Lü, however, he says his current goal is not to win international awards but to just tell good Chinese stories.

According to report, China's annual per capita audience of watching film is 1.23, which is far behind North America's 3.59 and South Korea's 4.24, and he believed that China still has a huge potential to develop its film industry.

Talking about Western media's use of the expression "China's 'Wolf Warrior' diplomats," Lü said he never expected that the title of the film would be co-opted in such a way and that he disagrees with the media's usage of it. 

"China has a humiliating history of being invaded by others, but we still keep a modest and tolerant attitude toward others [foreign powers]. However, sometimes showing humility is seen as weakness, so we need to be tough and fight back against reactionary voices in the world," Lü said.
Newspaper headline: Right to speak

blog comments powered by Disqus