WOLF PACK – Review
WOLF PACK is a fast-paced, subtitled action flick from China that’s well worth having to read the dialog – partly because there isn’t too much of it in proportion to the shooting and fighting time. An elite mercenary unit of ex-soldiers (hence, the title) opens with rescuing a young humanitarian doctor (Aarif Rahman) kidnapped by terrorists. The main plot involves the bad guys’ effort to destroy an oil pipeline that’s vital to China’s needs, both foreign and domestic.
The leader (Jin Zhang) is a hard-nosed veteran of many battles. Luxia Jiang co-stars as the attractive female member of the team that’s become almost mandatory in recent action flicks from all countries who crank them out. Diego Dati plays the typically brilliant, ruthless head honcho of the terrorists. All three mentioned in this paragraph fill their roles in excellent style.
Writer/director Michael Chiang delivers a taut package of action and suspense that seems shorter than its 105 minutes. That’s always a plus in my book. The last act includes a literal and figurative ticking bomb scenario with time running short for our heroes to save the day. Action sequences are mostly gun battles, except for a few well-staged hand-to-hand fights. No expense was spared on special effects and sets, adding a layer of complexity to the crisis. No romantic subplots or nudity. The violence is large-scale and frequent but not particularly graphic.
If there’s a nit to pick, it’s the humanitarian doctor’s character arc. He’s a scrawny pacifist who initially hates the mercs that saved him and all they represent – rentable soldiers for any price, regardless of principle. But finding himself enmeshed with them in extreme peril rapidly turns him into a super trooper, joining their ranks and somehow possessing weaponry and fighting skills, with absolutely no explanation of how he could have gone full Rambo so quickly. Fortunately, the plot moves quickly enough to keep you from dwelling on that question. It also includes a couple of surprising elements that help separate it from others in the genre. Not special, but certainly worth a look to fill your adrenaline needs without overtaxing the cerebral.
WOLF PACK, in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles, is available on Blu-Ray DVD starting Tuesday, Jan. 23.
RATING: 2.5 out of 4 stars