Monday, August 20, 2018


To watch this movie and judge the amount of action contained in 2 hours and 22 minutes the only thing a person can do is say…wow. The movie plays out like a beaker full of adrenaline pumped into your system the entire running time with a few minutes that slow down only to have more pumped in as you begin to calm down.

The Chinese Navy in the Red Sea first rescues the crew of a tanker taken over by Somali pirates by sending in their elite Special Forces team, the Jiaolong Assault Team. With the crew saved the team returns to their ship only to have enough time to get ready for their next mission.

When civil war breaks out in Yewaire in the Arabian Peninsula, orders come down to evacuate all Chinese citizens from the area. The Navy is sent in to remove everyone and begins their evacuation at the docks. But there are more citizens and diplomats still within the city. Call in the Jiaolong Assault Team to save the day.

But this time around things go from bad to worse and as the story plays out it seems that bad luck follows the group. As they pick up the diplomats it seems that every turn they take leads them to another rebel group armed to the teeth. Cars are blown up, comrades and Chinese citizens killed and new routes are calculated.

As if that wasn’t enough a Chinese journalist has discovered that the terrorist behind this insurgency have access to a large amount of yellowcake materials that they plan to use to make dirty bombs. She can’t convince the leader of the team to pursue the terrorist since he only obeys orders. Of course she doesn’t listen and due to her insistence people are injured and killed. But she remains determined to find a necklace containing the formula to make the dirty bombs and stop the terrorists.

Unable to leave the way they planned the team forms a convoy of jeeps and begins making their way across the desert to a rendezvous 75 miles away. But along the way they’re attacked by a sniper and rocket carrying terrorists. Suffering heavy losses they’re down to the remaining 4 members of the team as their leader makes the decision to go after the terrorists with the yellowcake and formula. But at what cost?

Made in China the film is said to be China's first modern naval film. It had amazing box office success when released and it’s easy to see why. As I said earlier this film has an overabundance of action that’s seen on screen and can be exhausting to watch. But that’s not what makes the film so intriguing.

As an American I’ve grown up with war films and movies about war heroes that commit the greatest sacrifice of all, giving their lives for their mission. I’ve also seen films about British soldiers usually WWII films where the same thing takes place. But while so many fear China no one ever talks about their army or navy or Special Forces units. Every country wants to claim they have the best unit in the world and in the eyes of those countries they do. But no one ever talks about each other’s units. This film provides a look at what the team from China would be like as seen through their eyes. That’s fascinating to me.

The production values on display here are wonderful. The cinematography is equal to anything shot in the states offering a clear, clean vision of the carnage of war. The make-up effects are astounding and fans of gore fueled films will leave their horror flicks behind to seek this one out. While unbelievable at times (one solider has his arm blown off and yet continues to fight for another 5-10 minutes with the other) it looks amazingly real. And if nothing else has been learned over the years by the Chinese they certainly know how to blow things up effectively. The film runs out numerous explosions from start to finish. The special-effects people are also to be congratulated using techniques found in films like THE MATRIX to show bullets ripping through buildings in slow aerated motion before hitting their targets.

When watching a foreign film the biggest difficulty lies in that term “lost in translation”. It’s difficult to digest the acting ability of those performing while trying to read what they’re saying at the same time. But this film presents actors who do so well that’s never a problem. The anguish of the soldiers as their comrades fall one by one is believable. All involved do a great job.

Perhaps the only negative thing to say about this film is the same thing that makes it worth watching, that non-stop barrage of action that takes place. Not only are the actors tossed about and running from the get go the camera movements also tend to be swinging about, rushing from side to side and handheld as people are on the move. It provides a sense of urgency to the story but as I said can be exhausting to watch. Still in the end the movie entertains and provides a look at a group much like those we champion here, the warriors of the Special Forces. 

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