07th Jun2021

‘Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Andy Lau, Ching Wan Lau, Ni Ni, Kwan-Ho Tse, Ron Ng, Tak-Bun Wong, Philip Keung, Chun Kit Chang | Written by Herman Yau, Erica Li, Eric Lee | Directed by Herman Yau

After suffering life changing injuries in the line of duty, bomb disposal officer Poon Shing Fung (Andy Lau, Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers) turns his back on the police. But when a devastating series of bombings sweep Hong Kong, the police suspect their former ally may be involved after he is found unconscious at a crime scene. Now faced with memory loss and recalling only fragments of his former life, Fung sets out to uncover the truth and find out who he really is.

Opening with the massive destruction of Hong Kong airport, complete with flesh burned off skeletons, and a blast of the nuclear variety, Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction kicks off with a literal bang. This is no sequel to the original though. Oh no. Yes, it stars Andy Lau once again and Herman Yau is, again, at the helm; however this film is more of a remake-come-reimagining of the bomb disposal expert concept of the first movie rather than a direct sequel.

Apparently… I say that as I haven’t seen the original film, going into this one cold. The fact that many haven’t seen the first film AND there’s no real connection b between the two is probably why this is being released in the UK as Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction rather than Shock Wave 2 too.

Beyond the explosions – of which there are many – Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction is a film about male pride and the alt-right. Well, as alt-right as a Far Eastern film can present. It is, at its core about the male ego in Hong Kong and how, in the case of Fung, disability makes him feel lesser. So much so that he’s the perfect choice to go undercover against a radical terror group called Vendetta (who it appears in this film have links to Al-Qaeda, as they use their “recruitment” material) – which is run by a butt-hurt man who’s upset that his family made their fortune in the opium trade AND the fact he was bullied as a kid. If this was an American action film, with that kind of alt-right, cis-male villain, this movie would be a little too close to home for US audiences methinks!

Oh and did I mention that our villain was also the best friend of Fung growing up, until he moved away and Fung stopped sending him Christmas cards? Talk about being a little b*tch!

If that’s not weird enough, there’s an odd and frankly BIZARRE sub-plot featuring Fung’s ex-girlfriend Pong Ling, who decides to “brainwash” Fung after his memory loss. You see Fung really DID blow up an event in anger, killing 18 people, but why not reprogram his memory? To make him THINK he was actually undercover and not a raving psychopath seeking vengeance for feeling betrayed by his friends and his bosses in the bomb disposal unit he worked for?! Talk about being manipulated… First by his co-workers, then by Vendetta, and then by his ex-girlfriend. No wonder Fung was angry!

He WAS angry, but after realising he was a terrorist, that he was brainwashed… well he seems to take it all in his stride, deciding to continue the undercover mission even though it’s really all – literally – in his head… and… er, Fung, driven mad by being rejected by the EODB (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau) following his injury, might have been more of an angry loon than we first thought. Talk about revealing flashbacks!

Eventually the film breaks down into gunfight followed by bomb disposal, gunfight followed by bomb disposal, until eventually Fung makes up for all his mistakes in the typical selfless hero fashion, stopping the nightmarish vision we saw at the start of Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction. But don’t worry, we still get a massive CGI-filled explosive set-piece. You didn’t think the film would end with a whimper after that opening do you?

A decent, if not outstanding, Hong Kong actioner with some of the most oddball plotting I’ve seen in some time, Shock Wave: Hong Kong Destruction is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Trinity CineAsia.

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