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Shock Wave - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Caak Daan Zyun Gaa

Hong Kong 2017

Action, Crime

Herman Yau

Andy Lau
Jiang Wu
Song Jia
Philip Keung
Ron Ng
Felix Wong
Leo Wang
Shek Sau
Liu Kai-chi

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Shock Wave

Shock Wave - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Cheung (Andy Lau) is a bomb disposal expert and seven years ago he infiltrated a gangster organisation under the criminal Hung (Jiang Wu). During a bank robbery, along the escape route several C4 explosives are triggered, Cheung overpowers half of the gangsters, among them Hung's brother. Hung himself manages to escape in a second escape car. He swears to take revenge, but only years later he will have the chance to. In the meantime, Cheung has been promoted and also is very happy with his girlfriend Carmen (Song Jia). But suddenly a series of detonations shakes up Hong Kong. Eventually, Hung, who now calls himself Blast, takes the Cross-Harbour Tunnel under his control. At both ends of the tunnel he parks a truck with 500kg of C4. Blast has several hundred hostages under his thumb and only accepts Cheung as a mediator. He demands his brother to be released from prison and threatens to kill one hostage every ten minutes past the ultimatum. However, during the brother's transport a car accident happens. Furthermore, Cheung has also quite a different agenda he pursues with his hostage-taking.

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Shock Wave - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Looking at "Shock Wave" objectively there is no real reason to recommend the movie right away. But if you just want to be entertained by an action flick from Hong Kong for a change Herman Yau's big budget blockbuster is simply the right choice. Those looking for explosions won't be disappointed. Moreover, there are a few shootouts and the brutality also clearly shows that despite being streamlined according to Mainland China's demands this is still a Hong Kong movie. Yet, there are obvious deficiences the movie unintentionally reveals concerning its screenplay and particularly the characters. You get the feeling as if Yau wanted to deliver a homage to several classics from 80s and 90s action cinema. This is fun, but it's not contemporary and stands in stark contrast to the picture's modern look.

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It's difficult to imagine that a movie like "Shock Wave" bombs at the box office. And so this 23 million dollar spectacle could easily rake in its budget. Still, you certainly can see the money in the lavish set pieces. The explosions are fantastic and for most part aren't generated at a computer. As is often the case with CGI-effects they don't look convincing at all times, as is the case with the helicopters, here. But for this the director did come up with quite a few nice ideas concerning the action and the camera moving through the tunnel during the finale, giving off a wonderful high-octane vibe. The movie has without a doubt been quite a costly affair and so the action scenes are particularly exciting. During the shootous even hostages die, which gives the movie, along with a few surprisingly violent scenes - a seperated arm, another guy is blown up - the already mentioned Hong Kong flair.

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The level of inventiveness shown regarding the action and directing is something you unfortunately won't find regarding the screenplay. It seems as if several pieces of certain action classics have been rehashed. And it's not really that there aren't any new ideas. After all, the side story around the owner of a tunnel for whom the hostage-taking means his company's worth and stocks skyrocket is well achieved. That's where Yau should have gone into more depth. Instead, he even introduces a love story which is probably the most boring one of the last few years. Song Jia ("The Final Master") oozes out so little charisma that you constantly ask yourself what Cheung actually finds so appealing in her. And even though he is the one who clearly has an interest in her first and she gives off the warmth of a freezer she eagerly awaits nothing more but to hear him say those three well-known words - which he is reluctant to get off his chest?

Shock Wave - Film Screenshot 7

Unconvincing in equal measure are the dialoges. Seeing Cheung and the antagonist shoot at each other screaming while Blast is also saying the same words over and over again doesn't really speak for a masterpiece of creativity. It also doesn't help that Blast is coming across too emotional as the villain. For someone who has devised such a sophisticated plan this seems rather odd. And he also isn't really that detestable, even though he is killing hostages every now and then. Thus, Jiang Wu ("A Touch of Sin") delivers quite a disappointing portrayal. The rest of the cast is one-dimensional as well and consists of clichés at best. Andy Lau ("Saving Mr. Wu") on the other hand succeeds in giving his role the much needed charisma. As is the case with the other individuals his role also lacks any true character traits, though. Accordingly, his inauthentic obsession with duty is sticking out like a sore thumb.

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It's also problematic that Herman Yau tries his hand at a few dramatic moments, which give a rather ridiculous impression. Consequently, there is a lack of emotional attachement from the audience to the characters and events. Herman Yau has already done better with drama in his work "Sara". Making up for all the problems with the characters and dialogues is Yau's action, though. The finale is fantastic and a high-octane action fest. Furthermore, there is even a little surprise which you maybe wouldn't have expected in a Hong Kong flick these days anymore. Despite all that you can't simply recommend "Shock Wave". "Firestorm", also with Andy Lau (and Philip Keung), had a lot less issues for example and stands as a good alternative. This aside "Shock Wave" is definitely entertaining, though.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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