Chinese Action Flick “Operation Somalia” Begins Production with Die Hard 2 Director On Board

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7:15 PM HKT, Wed April 11, 2018 2 mins read

As the groundbreaking Wolf Warrior 2 makes the festival rounds internationally, and its spiritual heir Operation Red Sea smashes box offices at home, the next flick to cash in on the burgeoning “Chinese commandos save the day in Africa” genre is starting to take form.

If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon: Wolf Warrior 2, directed by and starring breakout action star Wu Jing, was the unexpected Chinese box office success story of 2017, premiering on screens here last July and raking in a cumulative worldwide gross of $870,325,439 USD, according to IMDb. The plot revolves around Wu’s character, Leng Feng, quitting his job as #1 badass of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Special Ops division and pursuing a quiet life as a troubled ex-soldier who fights pirates in Africa (no country is ever named) for a living.

Following on from Wolf Warrior 2‘s success, this year’s Spring Festival holiday season saw the release of Operation Red Sea, which has a similar narrative and also took in an obscene amount of money at the ticket box. As RADII‘s Fan Shuhong wrote at the time:

Operation Red Sea is loosely based on the same true story as Wolf Warrior 2, last year’s major box office hit: the evacuation of over 800 Chinese citizens and foreign nationals from the Republic of Yemen during the Yemeni Civil War in 2015. The success of Wolf Warrior 2 proved the Chinese audience’s appetite for this type of war film, and for Operation Red Sea, which is set in Morocco, the production crew went even further.

Which takes us to today, when the momentum for Chinese military shoot-em-ups on the continent of Africa continues apace. WeChat account Let’s Make the Movie recently reported (link in Chinese) that a new putative blockbuster entitled Operation Somalia has just begun production, putting an estimated $30 million USD budget towards minting the next big hit.

The report includes details of the “golden troop formation” behind the film, including real estate company and cinema chain operator Wanda, the Chinese government’s Golden Shield Project, screenwriter Liu Yi, and Renny Harlin, a Finnish director best known for helming Die Hard 2.

In addition to that, Harlin has a pretty long CV as a director, including Stallone thriller Cliffhanger and an Exorcist prequel. He seems to have caught the China bug recently, and has two Chinese films — Legend of the Ancient Sword and Bodies at Rest — currently in post-production.

Let’s Make the Movie writes of this new venture:

As the largest movie company in China, Wanda Pictures is deeply involved in Operation Somalia. Following Detective Chinatown 2, which was released in 2018 and sold 3.4 billion tickets, Operation Somalia will become one of Wanda’s most important films, as the company will be involved with its pre-production, production, and distribution.

Operation Somalia is based on real events and “revolves around an epic rescue operation against Somali pirates mounted by Chinese special forces,” according to an article by The Hollywood Reporter. According to the film’s Douban page, it will be shot in China and Australia and is scheduled for a 2019 release.

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