Herman Yau

Shock Wave (2017)

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Andy Lau becomes the target of a revenge plot as the fate of Hong Kong is in his hands in this Herman Yau-directed action thriller.

J.S. Cheung has risen through the ranks to become one of the most decorated officers of Hong Kong Police’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. However, two years ago, he went undercover and worked for a criminal mastermind, Pang Tong, who like Cheung, is known for his skills with explosives. When Cheung helped stop a potential bank robbery, Pang escaped and has vowed revenge on Cheung, who has returned to the EOD unit and has begun a relationship with local teacher Carmen Li.

As part of his plot to seek revenge, Pang returns to Hong Kong and has taken the Cross Harbour Tunnel under siege by having everyone in the tunnel held hostage and threatening to blow it up if his demands are not met. Pang wants Cheung to return to ensure the safety of the hostages by first, forcing him and the police to release his brother Biao from prison. Biao has had a change of heart since Cheung busted him in the mission two years ago and has no interest in seeing his big brother. However, as complications arise, Cheung finds himself with the fate of Hong Kong in his hands.

Herman Yau is truly a force in Hong Kong cinema. His versatility has led him to tackle various genres. For one of his latest films, this action thriller, which he co-wrote with Erica Li, revolves around sealing the fate of the Cross Harbour Tunnel, an underwater connection between Kowloon and Causeway Bay and of course, the hero is someone with a connection to the one responsible for holding the tunnel hostage. Yes, the film does play like a Hong Kong-version of big blockbuster Hollywood action films, but there are some twists and turns set to keep the viewer engaged.

Andy Lau once again shows his prowess as a bankable lead in the role of J.S. Cheung, a member of the EOD who in the film’s opening, finds himself in an undercover investigation which involves infiltrating a criminal known for his expertise in explosives. The villain Pang Tong is well played by Jiang Wu, who seethes revenge for the bust two years ago. In a bold and smart move in the film, the love interest for Cheung is in no way glamorized, but rather an ordinary teacher played well by Song Jia. In their first meeting, Song’s Carmen is seen at a bar completely drunk and tells Cheung after meeting her at her school that she was only there that night because she wanted to see if she still “had it”, but it is clear that the relationship between Cheung and Carmen is not about having it, but is truly about love and caring for each other.

The action sequences are quite a delight to watch. From the vehicle chases to a finale that nearly rivals another Lau vehicle, Firestorm, for an insane shootout that ends with a shocker (no pun intended) of a finale that just boosts up the rating of the film. The opening chase alone is quite a watch as there are explosions involve including a final explosion (for the opening) that nearly sends a car in a tunnel, this becoming the catalyst of the core plot of the film.

Shock Wave is definitely a Hong Kong-equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood film and who better than Andy Lau to lead the way in this tense thriller. Some notable twists and turns help make this one to definitely check out.


A Universe Entertainment and Infinitus Entertainment Ltd. Production in association with Bona Film Group. Director: Herman Yau. Producers: Andy Lam, Alvin Lam, Jessica Chan, Esther Koo, and Alice Chan. Writers: Herman Yau and Erica Li. Cinematography: Joe Chan and Mandy Ngai. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Andy Lau, Jiang Wu, Song Jia, Philip Keung, Ron Ng, Babyjohn Choi, Louis Cheung, Wang Ziyi, Felix Wong, Sek Sau, Liu Kai-Chi, Cheung Chun-Kit.


TEASER: Shock Wave

Herman Yau‘s upcoming action film has released a teaser trailer on what to expect.

Shock Wave stars Andy Lau as a bomb disposal unit officer in Hong Kong who has learned a terrorist has returned to cause chaos. It is up to him and his team to stop this evil madman.

The film is due for release in April from Universe Films and Bona Film Group.

Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013)

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From the director of The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010) comes this exciting installment of the Ip Man film legacy, driven by an energetic performance by Anthony Wong as the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster.

In 1960’s Hong Kong, Ip Man heads to Hong Kong, where he meets young kung fu expert Leung Sheung. Leung, the head of the Restaurant Workers’ Union, is impressed with Master Ip’s Wing Chun and asks to be his student. Unable to run a proper school due to lack of sponsors, Leung offers Ip the rooftop to a local restaurant to teach the art to various students, including cop Tang Sing, activist Lee King, and young Sei-Mui.

Slowly, things begin to become complicated for Master Ip. First, there is the fact his wife Wing-Sing had some to Hong Kong only to return home. Second, some of Ip’s students cause trouble with a rival school run by Master Ng Chung. Third, Jenny, a nightclub singer who was rescued by Master Ip, slowly falls for him. Lastly, Tang Sing is somehow bribed into joining forces with local gang boss Dragon, who organizes fights in an abandoned warehouse in the Walled City with one of its top fighters being Ip’s student Wong Tung, who has married Sei-Mui.

While many fans will more take note of Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip’s take on the Ip Man legend from 2008 and 2010, one cannot help but resist Herman Yau’s takes on the legend. In 2010, Yau collaborated with Wing Chung master and filmmaker Checkly Sin (whose lineage in the art traces back to Ip Man himself) to make The Legend is Born: Ip Man with martial artist Dennis To in the lead role. Yau and Sin return to make a sort of finale to the legacy with this film.

This time, Hong Kong veteran Anthony Wong takes on the role of Master Ip. Wong, himself a martial artist, underwent training in Wing Chun from Sin for the film and performs is beautifully. However, Wong is one of the top actors in Hong Kong, making any role work well no matter how good or bad the film is. Here, he drives the film and performs very well as the elder Ip Man, who despite sticking to his philosophy of Wing Chun, must somehow adapt to the times.

What is great about this film is that it is not just another mindless film about Ip Man and the fact that yes, his student was Bruce Lee. The film deals with the era of Hong Kong from the early sixties to just near his passing in 1972. Ip Man’s son Chun, played here by Zhang Song-Wen, is the narrator and there are mentions of Lee in one scene. The film depicts a sense of realism underneath the story of Ip Man when it comes to Hong Kong in the sixties and it is this juxtaposition that works very well as opposed to being another straight action tale.

The film’s action sequences were done by Checkly Sin and former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li. Sin, along with co-star Marvel Chow, served as Wing Chun consultants. As mentioned, Wong performs his fight scenes very well. The favorite has to be Ip Man vs. Ng Chung, played by another Hong Kong veteran, Eric Tsang. Tsang, usually known for his comedic roles in the Lucky Stars films of the eighties, actually started out as a stuntman and director of classic kung fu films. It is refreshing to see him in a full martial arts master role and he performs well in his fight scene against Wong. Playing Ip’s students are Timmy Hung (son of Sammo), Coweb’s Luxia Jiang, and Twins’ Gillian Chung. This trio, along with Marvel Chow, performs well in their action scenes. Ken Lo shows he hasn’t lost a step as Dragon’s right hand man, Iron Fist Ngai, even taking on both Hung and Jiang at the same time for part of their climactic bout. The only letdown, and it wasn’t that big of a letdown, was the “final fight” of the title, pitting Ip against Dragon. As a wushu champion from Mainland China, it didn’t seem necessary for Xiong Xin-Xin to use wire enhancements for his role of Dragon. However, there were some used when Dragon throws some kicks and compared to Wong using Wing Chun, it took away some of the realism and tenacity of the other fight scenes.

Ip Man: The Final Fight is definitely a worthy installment despite a bit of a letdown in the lack of realism in the final fight scene. Anthony Wong truly drives the film as an elderly martial arts grandmaster who despite adapting to the time, sticks to his philosophy of his passion of martial arts. Definitely a must see, especially if you have a liking for Ip Man.


Emperor Motion Pictures presents a National Arts Films Productions Limited production. Director: Herman Yau. Producers: Checkley Sin, Albert Lee, Cherry Law, and Catherine Hun. Writer: Erica Li; story by Checkley Sin. Cinematography: Joe Chan and Mandy Ngai. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Anthony Wong, Gillian Chung, Jordan Chan, Marvel Chow, Eric Tsang, Zhou Chu-Chu, Timmy Hung, Jiang Luxia, Xiong Xin-Xin, Anita Yuen, Yip Chun.


The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010)

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With the rousing success of Wilson Yip’s semi-biographical film about the Wing Chun kung fu master Ip Man, wing chun expert Checkley Sin produces this unofficial prequel to that very film that features exhilarating fight sequences despite a miniscule plot that delves into familiar territory.

In 1905 Foshan, Mr. Ip goes to the Wing Chun School run by Chan Wah-Shun. He asks Master Chan to teach his youngest son Man and adopted son Tin-Chi in the art of Wing Chun. Chan accepts the students and begins to train them. However, when Chan is stricken ill and passes away, his assistant Ng Chung-So takes over the school and teaches the Ip brothers in the art.

Ten years later, Ip Man and Ip Tin-Chi, along with female student Li Man-Wai have excelled in the art of Wing Chun. During a festival, Man meets Cheung Wing-Sing, the daughter of Foshan’s deputy mayor. The two begin to have feelings for each other but never have the chance to see each other, especially after Ip Man leaves to Hong Kong to begin his college studies. There, an altercation with a foreign student leads to Ip getting a reputation in town. That is, until he tests his skills against a pharmacist who is revealed to be Leung Bik, the son of Wing Chun expert Leung Jan. Bik explains to Ip Man that Wing Chun doesn’t necessarily have to have authenticity but be adapted with other styles.

Upon returning to Foshan, Ip Man learns that the Japanese has invaded Foshan. The Jing Wu Sports Federation finds itself under siege by Chairman Kitano, who donates money to the town yet moonlights as a child smuggler. He intends to smuggle children into Foshan with the hopes of potentially making them soldiers for the Japanese army. Ip Man learns that his adopted brother Tin-Chi somehow gets himself involved with the Japanese and is the new leader of the Sports Federation after the death of President Lee. When the Japanese want Tin-Chi to kill Ng Chung-So before letting him be free, Ip Man now must come to the rescue and face his onetime brother.

For those who are interested, Ip Man (1893-1972) was an expert in the art of Wing Chun kung fu. He is best known as the man who taught martial arts to a young teen named Bruce Lee. The 2008 film IP MAN starred Donnie Yen as Ip from the late 20’s to the 30’s, when the Japanese invaded. While a sequel was commissioned in 2010, this film is considered a “semi-autobiographical prequel” to the 2008 film yet not exactly related.

Playing the role of Ip Man here is Dennis To, a martial arts champion who has studied Wushu since the age of six and Wing Chun for six years under Checkley Sin, the producer of this film who was actually a protégé of the man himself. To appeared in the other Ip Man films and serves as martial arts consultant on this film. To does really well playing his great grandmaster. He possesses the looks of a potential star and yet has the martial arts skills to match. With the right promotion and projects, we could be looking at an action star on the rise.

The supporting cast does well in their roles, prominently Louis Fan as Ip Tin-Chi, who finds himself conflicted between loyalty to his brother and loyalty to the enemy. Yuen Biao shows he has not lost a step with his Wing Chun training as second senior Ng Chung-So, while in their cameo appearances, Sammo Hung and Ip Man’s son Ip Chun are great as first senior Chan Wah-Shun and third senior Leung Bik respectively. The short spar between Ip Chun and Dennis To is great to see as the 86-year old Chun still shows some lightning speed in him.

The Japanese villains are well played by Kenya Sawada and Bernice Liu. For Sawada, it is a welcome return after seeing him in the Hong Kong flicks Thunderbolt (1995) with Jackie Chan, Extreme Crisis (1998) with Julian Cheung, and Color of Pain (2000) opposite Terence Yin. Here, he plays a mastermind smuggler who uses money to get the loyalty of the Chinese government. As for Liu, it seems like she is beginning to get typecast as a villain. The Canadian-born Liu got to strut her evil side and fighting skills in 2010’s Bad Blood and The King of Fighters. Here, she does it again as Sawada’s daughter, who leads the Japanese army in Foshan and fights her way through her adversaries.

Choreographing the martial arts fights is veteran Tony Leung Siu-Hung, who helped Sammo Hung choreograph the fight scenes in IP MAN. Leung is truly one of the best in the business, staging each fight and using the right angles. Working with the likes of producer Checkley Sin, Dennis To, and other real-life Wing Chun exponents, the fights showcase authentic Wing Chun as well as other forms of martial arts from Japanese karate to judo. It is clear that Leung’s work can never be ignored.

The only flaw of the film comes in the overall story. As with Ip Man, the film has the classic rivalry of Chinese kung fu against Japanese karate. Here, the story devolves into that with a twist that ends up more surprising and brings a little redemption to the overall effort.

The Legend is Born: Ip Man is a pretty decent semi-biographical film about the Wing Chun master. If he decides to keep up, Dennis To could be the next big Hong Kong action star, following the likes of Nicholas Tse, Andy On, and Wu Jing.


Emperor Motion Pictures presents a National Arts Films Productions Limited production in association with Zhjiang Hengdian World Studios Co. Ltd. Director: Herman Yau. Producers: Checkley Sin, Xu Wencai, and Cherry Law. Writers: Erica Li and Lee Sing; story by Checkley Sin. Cinematography: Joe Chan and Mandy Ngai. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Dennis To, Crystal Huang, Xu Jiao, Hins Cheung, Louis Fan, Yuen Biao, Yip Chun, Sammo Hung, Lam Suet, Bernice Liu, Kenya Sawada.


The Masked Prosecutor (1999)

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A masked vigilante takes to the streets of Hong Kong in this thriller from renowned director Herman Yau (The Untold Story).

Leung Siu-Chung, a notorious criminal, has been acquitted of charges involving a young girl. On the night of his acquittal, he is caught by a mysterious man wearing a black slicker and changeable masks. He kidnaps Leung and forces him to be caned. The next morning, Leung is dropped off at the police station, practically forcing him to confess to his previous crime. In charge of the case is Wah Kin-Lun, who is partnered up with veteran Guy, who is due for retirement in six months.

The masked prosecutor is former police officer Tong, who was held responsible for the death of his partner years ago. Tong and his partner were adopted sons of Guy, as he mentored them in the ways of the police force. Tong has taken it upon himself to seek redemption by acting as a vigilante. However, due to his unorthodox ways and unstable mentality, when crime boss Kwong has been acquitted, Tong decides to upgrade the punishment to death. Can Wah and Guy be able to stop Tong before it’s too late?

Herman Yau is one of Hong Kong’s most versatile filmmakers. While he is perhaps known for his true story horror film The Untold Story and by today’s standards, his unrelated martial arts films revolving around Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man (The Legend is Born: Ip Man and Ip Man: The Final Fight), Yau can work well with any genre. In fact, he does quite well with this dark action thriller about a masked vigilante who tracks down acquitted criminals and instead of killing them, canes them as a means of punishment.

Jordan Chan plays the lead investigator in charge, who seems to have something in common with the vigilante as they are both devout followers of Hinduism, which plays a pivotal role in the film. Notably the chants used, as the vigilante forces his victims to listen to the chants as he unleashes his punishment. As for the vigilante, Louis Koo brings in one of his darkest roles to date

as we get a glimpse on Tong’s backstory as to why he ultimately becomes the titular “masked prosecutor”, with the emphasis on “masked” as he changes masks with just a flick or turn of his head!

The late stuntman extraordinare Blackie Ko churns out a believable acting role as the soon-to-be retired Guy, who has his reservations about both his new supervisor and that of the “masked” as well. Grace Yip sadly doesn’t offer much to the role of Guy’s daughter Siu-Yu, except only to be there as Wah’s potential love interest. Thankfully, despite having cameo appearances, Jessica Hester and Michael Tse provide roles that are vital to the story of the masked vigilante while former kung fu star Turbo Law (known as Lo Meng to classic kung fu film fans) makes the most out of his appearance as the wanted target of the masked. Hung Cheung-Tak provides pretty good fight scenes when it comes to the masked taking on thugs or even his brief fight against Chan midway through the film.

The Masked Prosecutor is a pretty good thriller that emphasizes not only on revenge, but relationships and Hinduism, all driven by worthy performances by Jordan Chan, Louis Koo, and the late Blackie Ko.


A Proxious Entertainment Group Ltd. Production. Director: Herman Yau. Producer: Nam Yin. Writers: Lam Kee-To and Nam Yin. Cinematography: Joe Chan. Editing: Azrael Chung.

Cast: Jordan Chan, Louis Koo, Blackie Ko, Grace Yip, Wayne Lai, Lo Meng, Jessica Hester, Michael Tse, Frankie Ng, Jazz Lam