BEIJING (AP) — A patriotic film reportedly inspired by evacuations of Chinese civilians in Libya and Yemen has become China's biggest-ever grossing domestic movie.
By Wednesday, action movie "Wolf Warrior 2" had raked in more than 3.4 billion yuan ($507 million) since its release on July 27, overtaking Hong Kong director Stephen Chow's 2016 fantasy comedy "The Mermaid" in the record books.
"Wolf Warrior 2" depicts a former special forces soldier battling against insurgents and mercenaries in Africa to save trapped Chinese workers. Chinese media have reported that it is based on the evacuations of Chinese civilians from Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015 that were assisted by the military.
State media reported that cinema showings are sold out and audiences have been giving the movie standing ovations. The official Xinhua News Agency said the film had "grabbed the heart of the nation."
The film has been helped by hitting cinemas during the summer blackout period when major foreign films are not released in an effort to give a lift to Chinese films. But it has also been stirring up patriotism among appreciating audiences taking pride in its message of a confident China with the means and will to protect its citizens abroad.
Cinema-goers have especially praised the pride-stirring combat scenes and the performance of lead actor Wu Jing, a martial artist who also directed the film.
"The patriotism theme is good and it stirred up our patriotic feelings," said media company employee Zhao Yunkun, 26. "I feel very proud of a powerful China and of being Chinese."
The movie was also playing last week amid celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing military. Those included a widely publicized military parade during which President Xi Jinping declared China would never allow the loss of any part of its territory to the resounding applause of the assembled troops.
The first "Wolf Warrior" in 2015 was about the adventures of the same soldier featured in the sequel, and reportedly pulled in around 500 million ($75 million).