Director: Herman Yau
Cast: Andy Lau, Sean Lau, Ni Ni, Philip Keung, Ron Ng, Kenny Wong, Timmy Hung
Runtime: 2 hrs
Rating: NC16 (Violence)
Released By: Clover Films, mm2 Entertainment and Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 24 December 2020
Synopsis: A series of bomb explosions have been occurring in Hong Kong, causing fear amongst the public. Former bomb disposal officer Poon Sing-fung (Andy Lau) fell into a coma at a crime scene injured in an explosion and becomes top wanted criminal after the police suspects of his ties with the criminal organisation, the Resurrection Group. After waking up from his coma, Poon was interrogated and imprisoned. Poon escapes from prison in order to investigate the truth and prove his innocence. On his lonely and helpless road, Poon enlists the help of his comrade in arms, bomb disposal officer Tung Cheuk-man (Sean Lau). However, the two fall into a conflict of black and white as Tung must choose between justice and friendship. Tung decides to choose the latter and assists his friend. At the same time, Poon's ex-girlfriend, Pong Ling (Ni Ni), who is now the chief inspector of the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, desperate to discover the culprit behind the series of explosions, persuades Poon to come in contact with the Resurrection Group to find out this mysterious organisation's next terrorist move and prove his innocence. Poon realises that exposing the truth is just as challenging as disposing explosives, risking his life as he races against time.
It’s safe to say that Hong Kong’s film industry has been on a decline in the last decade, eclipsed by giants like China and South Korea as they aggressively come to the fore. The once-shiny Hollywood of the East is facing a bit of a crisis trying to score a hit.
For Herman Yau, his effort comes in the form of Shock Wave 2, a sequel to the successful Shock Wave he directed, with Andy Lau once again as the lead. But this successor is only one in spirit. The theme built upon the bomb disposal unit stays, along with the Heavenly King as protagonist, but names have changed and the set-up suggests this is another story altogether.
The dutiful bomb disposal officer Poon Sing-fung (Andy Lau) gets injured at an assignment. Eager to return to the field, he puts all of his energy into his recovery, but his superiors have other ideas and relegates him to a desk job. Angered by the injustice and eaten by his bitterness, he deteriorates mentally and in a fit, loses his job after protesting in front of the media.
Years later, an anti-establishment terrorist group unleashes a series of bomb attacks in the city. Led by the notorious anarchist Ma who directs his members to perform strategic explosions to decry the corruption of authority, we see Sing-Fung making an appearance - shockingly as one of the members. But during an attempt, he gets caught at the scene of the blast and is interrogated at the hospital after coming conscious. Thing is - he claims to not know who he is.
Is the bout of amnesia real? And what does his ex-girlfriend Pong Ling (Ni Ni), who is now the chief inspector of the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, mean when she asks him if he is “still able to complete the mission”?
Once famous for their cop and triad epics, complete with double agent twists upon twists, Shock Wave 2 attempts at weaving an intricate plot to up the ante from the original, but might have tried a little too hard.
Layering multiple manipulations within the story means certain segments loses meat. There is an odd pacing here in the film where some events, like Sing-Fung’s recuperation, is drawn out unncessarily, when that time can be better spent on his struggle after his amnesia. His alternating loyalties can do with some better motivation than portrayed.
The script writing can do with a bit of an update as well. A more sophisticated audience who now have ready access to great writing from international channels means the bravado and dramatic pronouncements here don’t quite have the same impact anymore. If anything, it feels a little cheesy at times. And speaking of cheese, the art department might want to know that there are other ways to make a villain look like a mastermind without bleaching his hair and making him like he’s high on caffeine.
Shock Wave 2 would benefit from adhering more to its original, with a more straightforward story and tense bomb encounters, as opposed to dressing up the franchise with bad CGI sequences and action for the sake of it.
(A formulaic action sequel)
Review by Morgan Awyong