A packed action thriller, Shock Wave 2 is relentless as it moves forward, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A film that has you dispel some sense of reality and has you heavily invested right from the absurdly brilliant opening sequence. Any faults are so readily forgiven – a joy of an action film made for the big screen.
When a bomb went off unexpectedly during a police operation to disarm it, Poon Shing-Fung (Andy Lau), a bomb disposal officer, got caught in the blast and lost one of his legs. Poon decided to leave the police service. Three years later, the police suspect Poon, who was found in a coma at the spot of a terrorist bombing attack, was involved in several bombing attacks in the past two years.
Poon can hardly remember his past and even his own identity due to Post Traumatic Amnesia. He plans to escape to find out the truth. Meanwhile, knowing the terrorist organisation’s schemes of destroying Hong Kong landmarks, Poon, as the key person between the police and the terrorist organisation, would possibly save or destroy the lives of the innocent civilians in the city.
Word of warning, those expecting Shock Wave 2 to be a direct sequel will be a little disappointed; this is very much a sequel in name only. Why? Well, Andy Lau is back but as a different, far more complex character. This time out, director Herman Yau has made sure to go as big as he can, be it with the larger scoped script or, the bigger set pieces, everything has been amplified, yet none of the entertainment value has been lost.
To make us aware of this as quickly as possible, we get quite the opening scene at the airport. This is as memorable a start to a film that you can imagine as not only is the devastation from the explosive destruction on such a large scale, but we even get to see the utter evisceration of random members of the public in a very gruesome yet wonderful way. But, the next moment after this destruction will either have you throw your arms up in the air or settle in for an intriguing tale, as a narration takes us forward.
Interestingly, there is a lot familiar in Shock Wave 2 with the first film, but by having the twist, the former EOD Poon helped devise everything that would happen along with an accomplice. Turn about-face due to amnesia to help his friends and his city by going undercover is intriguing and an inventive enough twist to carry the film onwards. From here, the film makes some standard action-thriller choices. However, Shock Wave 2 manages to keep its audiences compelled. By the final act, we are leaning a bit more forward as we become heavily invested in the characters, even if, unfortunately, we already know the basic fate of everyone.
Sadly and quite similarly to the first Shock Wave, the villains of the piece are quite paper-thin and not as fleshed out as one would hope for. Here Tse Kwan-Ho does a decent job with his terrorist, but it almost feels like a thankless role as other than seeming menacing and trying to hatch his dastardly plan, he mostly struts about. This reoccurring issue is caused by Yau again focussing on the arcs of our protagonists and while Poon’s arc is perfect and emotional. As he tries to make amends with his ex-girlfriend and his former colleagues (as you would expect with a film like this), it comes at a cost to the antagonists.
As Shock Wave 2 goes more immense, the action scenes level up appropriately, with Poon’s attempted escape from custody from the hospital being one of the non-explosive highlights. As the action scenes mount up, the tension and pace also never let go as we fly through the film at a breakneck pace. As with Shock Wave, you never get bored and the relentless nature of the movie due to how inventive it is with its set pieces.
A sequel that fulfils the promise of going bigger, this non-stop action film has you wrapped around your finger. It causes it to do what so many mass destruction actions fail to do, bring characters that invest you enough to follow through the film without ever lingering on the minor faults. This is a must-watch and one that, while it doesn’t need to be watched after the original, Shock Wave 2 can stand out on its own.
Shock Wave is available via Chinese Cinema Season’s “Hong Kong, Reimagined” curated section.
Festival Website: www.chinesefilm.uk
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