Shock Wave 2 (2020) Review
First things first, despite the title and presence of star Andy Lau and director Herman Yau, Shock Wave 2 is a sequel to the original Shock Wave in name only. There are no returning characters and the only connection between them plot-wise is that they involve Hong Kong’s bomb disposal squad, so you can easily watch this even if you haven’t seen the original.
Shock Wave 2 opens with an absolutely jaw-dropping bit of destruction that had me wondering where the story could go from there or how they would top it, the nuking of Hong Kong’s airport. And then they immediately roll it back. That didn’t exactly get it off on the right foot with me.
Poon Shing Fung (Andy Lau, Firestorm, The Great Wall) is one of Hong Kong’s best bomb disposal experts. That is until he loses a leg in an explosion. Despite pushing himself to the point where he’s as capable with an artificial leg as he was before, his superiors refuse to let him return to the streets. In frustration, he quits the force and drops out of sight.
Five years later he’s seen again, found unconscious at the site of a terrorist bombing. But he’s suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember who he is, let alone what happened.
On the run from his former fellow officers, he has to regain his memory in order to prevent more carnage. And for that, he’ll need help from not only his former partner Tung Cheuk Man (Ching Wan Lau, Black Mask, The White Storm) but his ex-girlfriend Pong Ling (Ni Ni, Immortal Demon Slayer, Enter the Warriors Gate) who now works in the Counter Terrorism Response Unit.
Director Herman Yau (Ebola Syndrome, Ip Man: The Final Fight) and co-writers Erica Li (Fatal Obsession, The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake) and Eric Lee (The Sleep Curse) have come up with a story for Shock Wave 2 that goes for a lot more depth than the first film while still being full of action scenes. The result is two hours crammed with incredible action set pieces and a constantly twisting plot.
Shock Wave 2 is exceptionally good at misdirecting the viewer and then delivering a twist or two. It does a good job of using these twists to uncover the layers of plotting and deception at work across the board. And that includes everybody from Ma Sai Kwan (Kwan-Ho Tse, Tomb Mystery, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!) head of the terrorist group Vendetta to Pong Ling who is in charge of bringing him down.
I wish Shock Wave 2 had dealt more with Pong and the methods she uses, but with the authoritarian regime on the mainland cracking down on Hong Kong the fact they dared to question police methods at all is surprising. And that kind of interference will only get worse now that Chinese filmmakers have been told that their foremost task is to develop “moral cultivation”, which is to say parroting CCP propaganda and kissing Xi’s ass with lots of tongue.
But the real draw for a film like this are the action scenes and Shock Wave 2 delivers plenty of them. Andy Lau deserves a lot of credit for doing many of his scenes with a prosthetic leg and his real one strapped up out of sight. The old adage about a one legged man at an ass kicking contest kept coming to mind as I was watching him. The highlight is his escape from the hospital. He’s caught between the cops and the terrorists and has to fight both on one leg until he can find an artificial one. It’s not quite the hospital scene from Hard Boiled but it’s still impressive.
The scenes of explosions and mass destruction are done with CGI and the quality is very uneven. That’s disappointing in a film with a budget like this, especially one centered around explosions. However enough of Shock Wave 2 works and works well enough to make it one fans of large scale Asian action films like The Raid 2 and Kill Zone 2 happy.
Echelon Studios will release Shock Wave 2 On Demand in North America on November 2, 2021.