International Festival Premiere
Shock Wave 2
拆彈專家2 (Chaak Daahn Jyun Ga 2)
Hong Kong, 2020, 120’, Cantonese
Directed by: Herman Yau
Script: Herman Yau, Erica Li, Eric Lee
Photography (color): Joe Chan
Editing: Azrael Chung
Art Direction: Eric Lam
Music: Brother Hung
Producers: Andy Lau, Alvin Lam, Esther Koo
Cast: Andy Lau (Poon Shing-fung), Lau Ching-wan (Tung Cheuk-man), Ni Ni (Pong Ning), Philip Keung (Lee Yiu-sing), Tse Kwan-ho (Ma Sai-kwan), Ron Ng (Lun Ting-pong), Kenny Wong (Chan King-to), BabyJohn Choi (Cheung Chi-man), Ben Yuen (Money), Wilfred Lau (Slave)
Date of First Release in Territory: December 24th, 2020
Images of massive destruction open Shock Wave 2, director Herman Yau’s latest blockbuster to follow Hong Kong bomb-disposal experts. Within just the first couple of minutes, footage shows the city’s airport descend into panic, get hit by a runaway train and be promptly nuked – an outrageous sequence staged to illustrate the level of terrorist threat posed in the film.
The story picks up years ago as hotshot bomb-squad officer Poon Shing-fung (Andy Lau) gets maimed on the job and is subsequently blocked from active duty, even after hard-core rehab. Five years later, a suicide bombing draws police attention to Vendetta, a terrorist group communicating through the dark web and thought to be bringing armed personnel into Hong Kong ahead of something big. When a hotel is attacked soon afterwards, Poon turns up as a suspect after the blast leaves him in hospital with amnesia. Poon insists he was framed, but soon Vendetta’s gun-toting thugs help him escape and the police have to figure out just what gang boss Maverick (Tse Kwan-ho) and his small army are planning.
Shock Wave 2 is a name-only sequel to Herman Yau’s 2017 bomb-squad spectacle, but new viewers can enter the series with either film. While the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau figures in prominently again and some of the actors return, the plot is self-contained and the characters are new. And even though the opening footage of an airport attack could be hard to top, Shock Wave 2 lets loose with plenty more chaos across its city. An early bomb plot that needs tackling by Poon and his partner Tung Cheuk-man (Lau Ching-wan) is a nasty affair with multiple detonators and a cramped downtown location, while a later job sees Tung defuse a device as a sniper guns down targets around him.
The hotel attack and the hospital breakout, as well as a subsequent downtown chase, all feature thrilling stunt work, and the final 20 minutes of the picture hold a wild closer as cops race to stop a string of attacks in multiple districts. The effects work is extraordinary throughout – a stunning display that far outdoes the pyrotechnics of the original Shock Wave.
Alongside the action, Shock Wave 2’s script explores how a person driven by anger could act dramatically out of character, and also poses ethical questions on how one counterterrorist officer chooses to investigate the Vendetta case. Oblique social comment appears too. Why, for instance, would a student mourning his girlfriend’s suicide target education authorities? Heavy drama crops up along the way, especially for star Andy Lau as Poon shifts from flamboyant high flyer to bedridden amnesiac and more. Lau Ching-wan takes on a more steady character beside Lau and gets his fair share of heroics, while mainland actress Ni Ni delivers an emotionally heavy performance as both Poon’s ex-girlfriend and a key investigator on the Vendetta case.
Some viewers of Shock Wave 2 may wonder if deploying nukes is a fitting response to grievances in the film. But with his Shock Wave franchise, Herman Yau and his collaborators simply aren’t afraid to go huge with the action. The first movie already provided an intense blast of Hong Kong cinema, and with part two it’s clear the filmmakers are pushing hard for ever more explosive blockbuster thrills.
Born in Hong Kong in 1961, Herman Yau majored in film at Hong Kong Baptist College, graduating in 1984. Yau directed his first feature, No Regret, in 1987 and since then has had a prolific and diverse career in film, TV, music videos and publishing. In addition to co-founding several cultural newspapers and magazines, Yau has also been a regular columnist and has self-published books. Best known internationally as a director of exploitation and genre features in addition to socially conscious works, Yau is also active as a director of photography and producer.
1987 – No Regret
1993 – The Untold Story
1998 – Troublesome Night 3
2001 – From the Queen to the Chief Executive
2006 – On the Edge
2013 – Ip Man – The Final Fight
2017 – Shock Wave
2019 – A Home with a View
2019 – The White Storm 2: Drug Lords
2020 – Shock Wave 2