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Patriotic blockbuster breaks China box office record

SHANGHAI, Aug 8, 2017 (BSS/AFP) - A Chinese action film that depicts the country's soldiers saving war-ravaged Africans from Western baddies soared to become China's all-time top box-office earner Tuesday, headlining a summer of patriotic cinematic fare.

The wildly popular "Wolf Warriors 2" boasts the ominous tagline "whoever offends China will be hunted down no matter how far away they are", and millions of Chinese cinema-goers have lapped it up since the movie's release less than two weeks ago.

The blockbuster has raked in more than 3.4 billion yuan ($500 million) since debuting on July 27, according to unofficial China box-office trackers Maoyan, a leading ticket merchant, and other industry tallies.

The movie's phenomenal success launched it past "The Mermaid", a China-Hong Kong fantasy comedy released last year that grossed 3.39 billion and had held the record, according to Maoyan.

Replete with special effects, stunts and explosions to rival Hollywood, "Wolf Warriors 2" tells the story of a former Chinese Special Forces operative's foray into an unnamed African war zone to rescue compatriots and downtrodden locals.

Experts say the movie is riding a wave of patriotic fervour drummed up by the ruling Communist Party.

It comes soon after China opened a naval base in Djibouti, a major step in the country's expanding military presence abroad. The facility in the Horn of Africa nation is China's first overseas naval base.

However, not all patriotic Chinese films this season have enjoyed such rave reviews.

"The Founding of an Army" boasts better-known actors but has been panned by critics, movie-goers and even families of a number of Chinese revolutionary heroes.

That film was timed to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, which was accompanied by celebrations and wall-to-wall media coverage.