Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? - Wolf Warriors

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

One of the joys of this job is that I get to broaden my horizons. I’ve always loved action movies, from the amazing to the… well, markedly less so, and in the past year, I’ve gotten the chance to explore action cinema from all across the world.
Wolf Warriors is far from the best action movie I have ever seen, but it is remarkably competent for what it is, with a few cool visuals and laughs thrown in to complement the experience. It has got a few faces you’ll recognize, including the ever present, C-movie “star” Scott Adkins, who does a fairly good job at playing the bad guy instead of a generic, hunky hero.

It is interesting to watch a movie and see Americans as the bad guys. We live in a sort of cinematic bubble where America is always good, foreigners are always bad, and we can do no wrong. Seeing this script flipped is a little eye opening. Adkins plays the leader of a mercenary group hired by a crime lord to kill the soldier who shot his brother. The soldier, an elite sniper, shoots the man to save a hostage in direct violation of orders. To him it was a necessary action to save the life of the hostage. To his superiors it was a risk. So he is reprimanded and court martialed, where he is recruited by a special unit to come and help them test the other units of the Chinese army through fake attacks and simulations.

On the first of these simulations, their unit is attacked by the mercenaries, except instead of the paintball rounds the soldiers are using, the mercenaries are using real rounds, and they quickly make short work of the soldiers. So the unit has to hold out until they can be resupplied with real weapons and fight back against their attackers.

It is an intriguing idea, and the concepts of sacrifice and honor are worked in rather well. Our heroes want to fight the mercenaries because they humiliated them, killed their friends, and invaded China. It is a personal attack in many ways, and watching the men struggle with sacrifice was genuinely intriguing. A commanding officer is heavily wounded by a sniper and while his men try to rescue him, they are picked off and killed one by one. He begs for his comrades hiding nearby to kill him, put him out of his misery, and give him an honorable death. It is a genuinely good moment, soured only by the fact that they had to work this exact same situation into the main character’s backstory. It feels less special and unique to have this moment when the same thing happened to his father years before.

There are some good action moments too, including one where our hero sprints towards a sniper, pulls out his pistol, cocks it with his heel, and shoots the man all in one fluid motion at a dead sprint. It is damned cool, and is something that I could watch on loop for a few hours to fully appreciate just how ridiculous it is, especially given that the actor apparently actually pulled the move off.

It is far from the worst of the action movies that I have watched for this series. It has its flaws, from weak story beats to some awful CGI wolves, but they were easy enough to look past because the movie was
fun to watch. The tone is executed well and the action is surprisingly well-shot for what it is. It is a bad action movie, and it revels in it. It’s not a good movie, but it’s an enjoyable one, something I can appreciate when writing this series.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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