Once you work your way through some implausibilities and a story that’s initially kind of confusing, Wolf Pack is a fun, exciting Chinese action thriller.
Troubled doctor Ke Tong (Aariff Lee) is kidnapped by an elite group of mercenaries led by Diao (Max Zhang), who coerces him into joining them. Their latest mission is to prevent a terrorist organization from sabotaging a Chinese natural gas pipeline. In almost no time, Ke Tong goes from hapless emergency surgeon to skilled soldier and part of the team.
That’s probably the biggest narrative implausibility, but not a big deal. Between gunfights and chases, watching him get chummy with this eclectic group - sporting nicknames like Bombshell and Monstrosity - is highly enjoyable.
Some of the action is kind of implausible, too, starting with the initial kidnapping, an outrageous sequence where Ke Tong is tethered to a hot air balloon and snatched away by a helicopter. That’s no big deal, either, because one doesn’t necessarily have to believe it to enjoy it, especially since the ample action sequences are extremely well executed.
|Diao decides to turn right.
Wolf Pack won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s never dull. Even during the downtime, the ensemble cast injects enough personality into their characters for us to really like them. The story also includes an interesting subplot revealing Diao’s reason for recruiting Ke Tong in the first place. He knew the guy’s father, as well as how he died (something that’s been tormenting Ke Tong for years). Do we ultimately need such a sidebar? Maybe not, but it does reveal a bit of humanity behind Diao’s steely exterior.
Fans of Chinese action may notice stylistic similarities to such other recent military-based films as Wolf Warrior and Operation Red Sea, to which this one compares quite favorably. One also gets the impression that we haven’t seen the last of this team. Here’s hoping that’s the case, because it could be a fun franchise.