Shock Wave 2 拆彈專家2 (2020) Review

The first Shock Wave, which was released in 2017, offered a rare look at the Hong Kong’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau (EOD) in the form of a big-budget blockbuster. The movie became one of the top-grossing Hong Kong movies during that year and even earned 7 Hong Kong Film Awards nominations including Best Film, Best Director (Herman Yau) and Best Actor (Andy Lau), with Philip Keung winning the award for Best Supporting Actor.

Despite its popularity, I personally found Shock Wave more of a missed opportunity. Which is why I kept my expectation low upon learning about Herman Yau and Andy Lau decided to team up again for Shock Wave 2 back in 2018. A sequel that doesn’t seem right at first, with Andy Lau returning as the lead actor (if you have seen the first movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

But Shock Wave 2 actually has no connection with the first movie whatsoever as the sequel happens to be a standalone effort, with Andy Lau playing a different character altogether.

Andy Lau and Lau Ching-Wan in Herman Yau's "Shock Wave 2" (2020)

Here, he plays Poon Sing-Fung, a dedicated bomb disposal officer working alongside his partner Tung Cheuk-Man (Lau Ching-Wan, credited as Sean Lau in the movie). He loses one of his legs during one of the defusing operations that goes awry. However, he refuses to give up hopes even he has to put on a prosthetic leg for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, for all his successful effort of getting back into shape, he is only allowed to work in a desk job due to his disability. Unhappy with his superiors’ decision, he subsequently quit the police force.

Five years later, Poon has since become a different person and somehow involved with the radical terrorist group, Vendetta led by Ma (Tse Kwan-Ho). Long story short, he finds himself a prime suspect after waking up from his coma following his injury from one of the terrorist-related bomb explosions. Suffering from amnesia, he is unable to remember anything and soon escapes from custody. Determined to find out the truth as well as his own identity, he relies on his former partner Tung and ex-girlfriend Pong Ling (Ni Ni), with the latter working as the leader of Counter Terrorism Response Unit (CTRU), to help clear his name.

Unlike the first movie’s more straightforward approach, Shock Wave 2 gets complicated with all the intricate storytelling — credited to Herman Yau, Erica Li and Eric Lee — that requires your full attention. The story is convoluted and even preposterous in certain parts, which requires your suspension of disbelief. Not to mention some illogical moments like seeing Andy’s character with a prosthetic leg, who is capable of running and jumping while manage to evade the police on several occasions.

Andy Lau and Ni Ni in Herman Yau's "Shock Wave 2" (2020)

Herman Yau also relies heavily on CGI during some of the major set-pieces, which in turn, looks spotty even with a bigger budget at his disposal (no pun intended) this time around.

And yet, this standalone sequel is surprisingly entertaining enough, thanks to Yau’s fast-paced direction and Li Chung-Chi’s energetic action choreography that at least able to distract me from overthinking the movie’s shortcomings. It also helps that Andy Lau and Lau Ching-Wan deliver engaging performances while Ni Ni thankfully fares better in the role of a CTRU officer than merely appearing as an obligatory female love interest. Tse Kwan-Ho, on the other hand, is sadly underused in his antagonist role.

Shock Wave 2 does feel close to home, with the story’s indirect references to the current Hong Kong’s political turmoil and pro-democracy stance. This can be evidently seen during one of the scenes involving Andy’s Poon Sing-Fung’s lone protest against the system’s injustice.

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