Shock Wave
R1 - America - Crimson Forest / Cinedigm
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (12th February 2018).
The Film

After foiling a heist as an undercover agent that leads to the capture of young gangster Biao Hong (Leo Zi-yi Wang), Officer Cheung (The Adventurers' Andy Lau) quickly rises through the ranks of the police department's Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit. When a series of bomb threats start plaguing the city, Cheung and his team get a lot of real world experience, but the remote detonation of a car with his former handler has Cheung wondering if the recent threats signal the return of Biao brother explosives expert Peng Hong (1911's Wu Jiang) who swore to get revenge on him. Two accidents featuring large delivery vehicles at either end of the Cross-Harbor Tunnel have trapped hundreds of commuters, but the police soon learn that the tunnel has been taken over by a criminal named "Blast" who considers himself a modern-day Robin Hood and his armed guards who have rigged all access points to the tunnel with explosives. When Blast requests to speak to Cheung, he realizes that Blast is indeed Peng Hung and that he claims to have over a thousand kilos of plastic explosives that are enough to destroy the tunnel and killing everyone inside unless the police department buys back the tunnel from him. While officials are calculating the damage to the economy and the waterways by such a blast, Cheung's superiors are trying to deal with the tunnel's owner Yim Kwok Wing (Infernal Affairs 2's Kai Chi Liu) who is protecting the interests of his shareholders (and possibly driving up the price). Peng Hong offers to release a hundred hostages if Cheung brings him his brother from prison, but a collision with a drunk truck driver and the prison van severely injures Biao. When Peng Hong straps a bomb to a young cop (IP Man 3's Babyjohn Choi) to show how serious he is about killing hostages if his need are not met, Cheung and his team cook up a plot to infiltrate the tunnel and disarm the bombs (or at least half of them since the tunnel should be able to absorb a five-hundred kilo explosion even if it kills everyone inside).

Cheung's relationship with his much younger schoolteacher love interest (Red Cliff's Jia Song) is so incidental as to be obligatory. The okay CGI effects mean little if the characters are so lifeless, and Lau's stoic hero is easily overshadowed by Jiang's scenery chewing. The film generates the most excitement during the climactic raid which seems to have been necessitated by Cheung taking it upon himself to strap a bomb and play chicken with his adversary. While the film did well in its theatrical run in China and Hong Kong, Shock Wave is yet another Asian action flick that is playing up its associations with other better-known action films like IP Man to stand out.


Shot in 4K on Red Epic cameras, Shock Wave looks as good as it can with a high bitrate encode in standard definition - a Blu-ray/DVD combo is also available - with good detail in close-ups while some of the wide shots of CGI pyrotechnics may probably look a tad more convincing than in HD. The color scheme is deliberately skewed towards greens and oranges, and some fine detail may be lost in the more saturated parts but they look relatively stable upscaped on an HD monitor.


Audio options include Mandarin and Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks of similar quality with optional English subtitles. The mix is constantly active and delivers the generic effects one expects from the genre with lots of directional movement during the chase scenes, explosions that move from the rear surrounds to the front or vice versa depending on the position of the detonation onscreen, and the LFE adds to the presence of such sequences.


The only extras are a rather unsubstantial making-of (2:20) and the film's trailer (2:02).


While Shock Wave did well in its theatrical run in China and Hong Kong, it is yet another Asian action flick that is playing up its associations with other better-known action films like IP Man to stand out.


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