Shockwave: Hong Kong Destruction opens big, with the first moments of the film showing Hong Kong International Airport being quickly evacuated as an out of control train crashes through the building. If that wasn’t enough the train is packed with nuclear missiles and a slow motion explosion rocks through the building, destroying everything and everyone in its path.
After opening with a literal bang the film slows down a bit as we go back in time and join a pair of bomb disposal experts, Poon Sing-fung (Andy Lau) and Tung Cheuk-man (Sean Lau), working for the Hong Kong police. After seeing the two of them working together for a bit, Poon ends up injured in an explosion and loses a leg. After recovering in hospital and learning to walk with a prosthetic he makes getting back to work his mission, but the police department don’t think a disabled man should be on the front lines, even if he’s fitter than everyone else on the force.
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Three years later when a terrorist attack blows up a function at a Hong Kong hotel Poon is found unconscious at the scene, leading him to be one of the chief suspects in the attack. However, when he wakes up with no memory of who he is or what happened, Poon will have to find a way of finding the truth, of discovering if he was working with terrorists, and if so, how he can stop them from striking again.
A standalone sequel to Shockwave, this film doesn’t require audiences to have seen Andy Lau’s previous entry in the series. Not only does the film stand by itself as a complete story, none of the actors are even playing the same characters they did in the first movie, making this one of those rare films where you can completely discount the original and jump straight in for some great action and thrills.
The central story, of a bomb disposal expert injured in the line of duty and left abandoned by the people he dedicated his life to, becoming so disillusioned that he turns into a bomber himself isn’t a new one. But having what appears to be the villain of the piece losing his memory and working to stop his own plot is a genius idea, and one that is done so well throughout Shockwave: Hong Kong Destruction. There are times where the audience doesn’t know if Poon is a bad guy or if he’s being set up, whether he’s a terrorist or if he was undercover, and just how he’s going to fall now that he’s essentially a new person is one of the more interesting parts of the movie.
However, it’s not all deep discussions on what makes someone who they are and if having a clean slate can make you a new person, as the film is also packed with brilliantly choreographed action sequences. There are tense scenes of bomb disposals as the man trying to disarm the device is being shot at by a sniper; police and terrorists clash in busy public places; there’s a huge hospital shoot out; and even a chase scene across rooftops and over traffic. I’ve seen Andy Lau referred to as the Asian Tom Cruise, and it’s easy to see why, as some of the sequences in this film would be well at home in a Mission Impossible feature.
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The film also shines a light on how disabled people can often be treated by society, how even if they’re able to function no differently from able-bodied people they get treated as less. It’s one part of the film that I particularly liked. Whilst Lau plays Poon well and displays a great deal of sensitivity towards his injury, with small things like him having to adjust the way he runs mid-chase because of his ill-fitting prosthetic, there will be some people who say the role should have gone to an amputee actor, and they do have a point. That being said, Lau did a great job in the role, and it never once felt like they were poking fun at the disabled community.
With some terrific action sequences, some great performances, and some truly over the top storytelling, Shockwave: Hong Kong Destruction is one of those action movies that I’d be happy to go back to time and time again.
Shockwave: Hong Kong Destruction is out on Blu-ray & DVD on 7th June and Digital on 14th June from Trinity CineAsia.