Shock Wave, written and directed by Herman Yau, stars Andy Lau, who also acts as producer. The film has a ridiculous plot centred on Cheung Choi-san (Lau), a policeman and explosives expert who inexplicably goes undercover with criminals and subsequently allows them to blow up half of Hong Kong before arresting only one of them. Years later, he’s disarming bombs left, right and centre in the city without wearing protective gear. Hot shot men don’t need to follow the rules, they are made of reinforced steel!
Cue the arrested criminal’s older brother, Blast (Wu Jiang), who is back in town with the worst plan in history to bust baby bro out of jail: holding the Cross-Harbour Tunnel hostage (Hong Kong’s busiest tunnel) for billions of filthy lucre and his brother’s release. Blast looks like he’s having the best time ever, while Cheung is impossibly handsome and yet overly morose because being a “good guy” is apparently super boring.
Cheung gets a girlfriend early in the film, Carmen Li (Song Jia), in a convoluted scene where she’s gloriously drunk. We learn Cheung only likes “academic women.” What luck, Carmen is a teacher, so we know she’s worth saving when she is inevitably kidnapped, a plot point telegraphed so loudly it can be seen from outer space. During an stiffly serious exchange between the lovers, Carmen wisely says good guy’s girlfriends get kidnapped in the movies. Meta!
There are 20,000 explosions, silly dialogue, and women’s entire existence is to act as pretty background props so we always remember that heterosexual men deserve heterosexual prizes after saving the city.
We are told in the first 10 minutes that if you should find yourself holding a live grenade (!), you should hold it gently but firmly, like holding a woman’s hand. Cheung demonstrates before a class, by grabbing a woman policeman’s hand. Everyone laughs, but I wanted to report him for sexual harassment in the workplace. Will our hero need a hold a live grenade in the manner acted out so pointedly? Yes, because nothing is subtle when your movie is about Men Blowing Up Stuff.
Still the movie is fun escapism with plenty of dubious science discussed throughout. Engineering, mathematics and the physics of blowing up All The Things features heavily. Is the science correct? Highly unlikely, but this film doesn’t care because it’s all about earth-shattering-kaboom, as promised in the title.
Go watch it for amazing action sequences (non-stop throughout) and for the line: “Even if I die and became a ghost I would still haunt you so I could arrest you.” Cheung is not chilled at all.
Score: 7/10 symbolic blasts of heteronormativity.
[Image: Event Cinemas foyer pictured from the escalator. People can be seen walking downstairs.]