Head heavy and worried about running late, I rushed to the seat behind the driver’s when I boarded the available Cubao via EDSA bus this morning. It was a strategic place to sit because my bag was big (and an inconvenience for travelling in crowded places), and I didn’t need to punish myself by having to carry it from the other end of the bus to the door.
Even when I was finally settled in my seat, I was barely ready for anything. I was still part-zombie because it was early. I was also part-anxious because I knew heavy traffic would welcome my new year and I might not earn extra hours I needed so that I could go home early. And, I was a total wreck because I fell sick the night before and I’ve had little rest to recover.
But, apparently, I don’t even have the luxury to decide if I want to be ready for Manila or if I could still go to sleep.
When I looked up at the glaring screen before me, I saw Chinese movie characters shooting each other, blood flying everywhere, during a police raid. (At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was a raid because only the sound and red registered. I only confirmed my guess during the main antagonist’s flashback sequence.)
I’m not a particularly squeamish person but people firing guns at each other was more than I bargained for. The booming alone was enough to kick start my day. But, I was getting a free movie (though I didn’t like the action genre very much) and like a good resilient person, I just kept watching.
So the film’s about this Chinese police man who disobeyed orders during the raid who ultimately saved the life of a hostage by doing so. Because of that, the police council had to decide if they should fire him or promote him.
Enter commanding captain that initially seemed like an irrelevant part of the council. She interrogates him a bit in his temporary holding cell and you know it’s gotten hot because the protagonist just finished exercising and is still sweating so much. In the end, she invited him to join some secret Wolf**** army for China which, according to the movie, is the army that can do whatever is needed and is the one that receives the best of the best weapons available.
Protagonist (let’s call him Leng) agrees.
Leng meets the Wolf people and they undergo an exercise. This exercise is like paint ball wars except the terrain is pretty war-like legit and there are tanks and fake-ish explosions and a commanding general for the blue and red teams.
While that’s going on, Mr. Head of the place they raided is shown to have escaped and arrest by the police with the help of the American mercenaries he hired.
Segway re: movie plot – I am so sorry to whoever created this film but I don’t know the title so I can’t just link a synopsis here. And I have to reveal plot points because it’s vital to my later reflection. So sorry.
So Mr. HPTR then has the flashback of his little (not-so little anymore) brother calling him about their drug factory of some sort saying that he finally has use for him now and in that video call, Mr. HPTR sees the raid happen. Apparently, brother is the hostage taker that Leng shot. (Leng is a sniper, BTW).
It becomes a revenge story. Mr. HPTR tasked the mercenaries to go after Leng, even if it means crashing in on the most high tech Chinese army exercise.
Okay, so this is where the feels come in.
I wasn’t particularly engrossed in the movie at first because 1) I’m not a big fan of action films and 2) I haven’t watched a lot of Chinese movies to know if I really like their film style or not. But, there’s this one minor character that I found absolutely adorable.
Call me out of my mind but one of the Wolf army guy to me seemed like the perfect teddy bear. He wasn’t a softie and he wasn’t, any way, looking huggable (except for his cheeks). He was a pretty tough dude. He’s Leng’s commanding officer in fact. But I don’t know! He looked like one professor I met and that doesn’t make sense. I guess, through the actor’s portrayal, I saw that this guy has a good heart.
Dear Movie, I was just starting to like you and you kill off the one guy character I found adorbs right after you show us the picture of his kid hidden in his helmet. I mean, come on! No one was supposed to die during an exercise! It was a drill! How could you?
So yes, the adorbs dude died because the mercenaries came for Leng and during an attempt to kill Leng, he died instead.
I wasn’t done grieving yet when the bad guys decided to go on an all out attack just to kill Leng. There are just six of them but they are confident enough that the top secret highly-weaponized army of China is no match for them. (Yes, the film portrays racism).
Side note re: racism – This movie is subtly kicking racism. The guys with the upper hand on attacking and stuff are the mercenaries a.k.a. the Americans. And, all throughout the film, some character is degrading the capabilities of the Chinese and their weapons.
Anyway, I didn’t want to have to continue watching. But I was right up front and it was right there. I just didn’t want to like more characters and watch them die. (I know I’m sounding whiny but fangirls out there know my struggles.)
I kept watching. I was slowly getting over the death because so many people kept dying. Leng triumphed in the end though and by the time that was happening, my mind was caught up on something else.
See, there’s this scene that Leng battles the head American guy and he wins. Just when he feels victorious and sees other Chinese army nurses sending rescue stuff, one of the medical man pretends to nurse him but then actually tries to kill him. And cue all the racist callouts in the movie. Wow, Leng just fought for his country and so many others died for that cause, but it’s their own countrymen betraying them.
Things got deep pretty fast.
In the end, it’s not just a matter of racism or patriotism. It’s about the great evil that money ushers in – greed and power. And I’m in no position to preach here and I have no intention of doing so, but that morning, I just felt so many things and in my head I was going all “This is also happening here.”
Movie-wise, the plot was very generic and usual but it punches at clichés in a way that get’s the audience without being irritating. The racism and feminist attempts here weren’t too loud either (which allowed it to be a symbolic subtext kind of thing). I’m guessing the director wanted to get an audience (thus the clichés) but also wanted to pitch a cause to the general masses.
Did it work?
Well, I was awake the whole two-hour trip and I still kept thinking of Leng and adorbs dude and other possible subtexts hidden in the movie halfway through the second movie that aired.