|Starring||Andy Lau, Sean Lau, Philip Keung, Ni-ni|
A nuclear bomb detonates in the Airport Express station at Hong Kong International Airport.
The explosion ripples through the terminals, killing everyone on site.
Chep Lap Kok, the island location of the airport, is left in ruins. The fallout from the bomb means the immediate area is now no longer habitable for decades.
That’s how Shock Wave 2 begins. With one of the most massive explosions you’ve ever seen in Hong Kong cinema. Does it keep it up for the remaining 2 hours?
What's this Movie About?
Poon Shing-Fung is an elite member of the EOD, the explosive ordinance disposal bureau of the Hong Kong police department. His specialty is disarming bombs, and within the first twenty minutes we get to see a repeat of the grenade disarmament from Part 1, as well as a rather complex bomb set up in an apartment that ties two lovers together.
It’s at this scene where tragedy occurs for Poon. As he leaves the apartment, he hears the cries of a cat trapped in a microwave. Being a good guy, he releases the cat, but doesn’t check that the microwave was booby trapped. The resulting explosion knocking him several floors below, with the loss of his left leg.
Through intense therapy and learning to walk again using his new prosthetic, Poon recovers and is ready to return to his role in the EOD. But he is rejected and this causes a downward spiral for his life. His resentment towards his superiors results in him leaving the force.
But Poon gets caught up with Vendetta, a dark-web group of radicals who purpose is to recruit disenfranchised individuals. And these guys have a massive plan that involves a mini nuke called Davy Crockett, and the Hong Kong International Airport.
Is it Worth Watching?
It feels like director Herman Yau has rewatched the original Shock Wave movie, and about a dozen or so classic Hong Kong action movies, and decided he knew exactly what he needed to do to fix the mistakes of the first movie.
The first movie was good, but not great. Definitely not worthy of sequel. And this is a sequel in name only, as appears to be the norm for Hong Kong cinema. Andy Lau and Philip Keung return but playing different roles.
But Part 2 ramps everything up. If you thought there wasn’t enough explosions in the first movie, well there is no less than 5 in the first thirty minutes of this one, with four of them being massive.
At times the first hour feels like a Jackie Chan movie. We go from one explosion, to the next, to a fist fight in an elevator, to an escape off a hotel balcony all without taking a breath. It feels very Police Story like.
But thankfully the movie remembers at around the 45 minute mark that it needs to give the audience a story, and it does this by introducing the first of two twists into the movie, which I won’t spoil but one of them is explicitly mentioned in the trailers.
But essentially, if you like Hong Kong action movies, if you like explosions, if you like watching old guys like Andy Lau running around like he is twenty-something and you love to be entertained with a thrilling movie, then you’re going to need to watch this.
What are Some of the Memorable Moments?
Some average CGI aside, the opening explosion at Hong Kong Airport is fantastic because its unexpected so early on. You’re left wondering: how could the filmmaker blow up the airport so early? What could he possibly have left in the tank for the rest of the film?
Well the truth is, quite a lot.
Watching Andy Lau hop around on one leg at the hospital, in the middle of a shoot out with police and the Vendetta crew, while engaging in some hand-to-hand combat is a scene that you need to watch to believe. Well-choreographed, even if it’s completely far-fetched, there are times you just don’t know who side you should be supporting. It’s great.
Speaking of the one leg, there’s a lot of nice touches in the film where the director has clearly tried to ensure the audience remembers Poon only has one leg. Scenes where Poon will be running, only to see him stumble and try and gain balance on his leg, are a nice touch for an element that most directors would have mostly overlooked unless it was vital to the scene.
But it’s that last thirty minutes that’ll keep you gripped to your seat. From several bomb disarmings, to a shoot out at Tsing Yi terminal including the MTR control room, to the exciting if ridiculous explosion of the Tsing Ma bridge, which geographically doesn’t make sense due to the time constraints, that last thirty minutes is some of the most exciting action you’ve seen from Hong Kong cinema for a while. And all delivered with that usual Andy Lau face. I don’t think he has too many different expressions, so it’s good that he sticks with what he’s good at.
And for those wondering, yes this has the same ending as Part 1.
What's Not So Hot?
Being an action movie where stuff explodes all the time means that the filmmaker has had to rely on CGI for almost everything.
And while the explosions look cool, and they really do, some of the other things don’t.
From the opening shot of the airplane flying through the skies as it’s about to land, to the underground tunnel scenes of the MTR trains, these bits scream CGI. Especially all that train bumping at the end, and even more so when the trains flies out of the tunnel into Ma Wan Channel.
It really doesn’t look good at all.
Not all the CGI is bad though, there are some awesome scenes where Hong Kong is re-created in a flat shaded map during the train sequence at the end that looks pretty good.
Another thing I wasn’t a fan of was the twists in the story line. In the end it made sense, but at times it felt like the director was trying to betray the audience with what they were seeing and learning about the characters.
Also, this one is to Andy Lau, you need a few more expressions. I know you’ve been doing this movie thing for decades, but you only have two expressions in this movie: normal and angry. Not enough.
And a final big thumbs down unfortunately goes to the film distributor, who for some reason thought that sending the Mandarin version of the movie out to an international audience was a good idea. In the end we are left with a tonne of un-lip synced dialogue thanks to the over-dubbing, with NiNi’s character being the only one who doesn’t suffer from this issue, being the token mainland actor in the movie, just like Song Jia from the first film. It’s even more grating if you’re a fan of the actors in this film such as Sean Lau and Philip Keung, and you know that this is not what they sound like, especially Philip Keung.
So, wrong version sent internationally aside, this is a great and exciting film.
And even more exciting, Sammo Hung’s son Timmy plays as one of the EOD officers!
If you want to see buildings blow up, if you want an intense opening and closing third of a movie, and if you want see what Herman Lau meant to make back in 2017 when he started his Shock Wave journey, then add this to your watch list.
My recommendation: is a solid thumbs up.
If you’ve seen it, what did you think?