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.


Cold War (2012)

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2012, Edko Films/Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd./Irresistible Films

Longman Leung
Sunny Luk
Bill Kong
Matthew Tang
Ivy Ho
Catherine Kwan
Longman Leung
Sunny Luk
Jason Kwan
Kenny Tse
Kwong Chi-Leung
Wong Hoi

Aaron Kwok (Sean Lau)
Tony Leung Ka-Fai (M.B. Lee)
Gordon Lam (Albert Kwong)
Chin Ka-Lok (Vincent Tsui)
Andy On (Michael Shek)
Andy Lau (Philip Luk)
Aarif Rahman (Billy Cheung)
Eddie Peng (Joe Lee)
Michael Wong (Commissioner York Tsang)
Byron Mann (Chan Bin)

Writer-directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk use some interesting twists and turns to make this a much underrated police drama that revolves around one word: power.

Hong Kong has become of the safest places in recent times. However, it all changes when five officers are kidnapped by a mysterious assailant who only corresponds via phone. One of the victims is the son of acting Police Commissioner M.B. Lee, who undertakes a new operation, codename Cold War. He plans to get the victims back by any means necessary.

This does not bode well with Deputy Commissioner Sean Lau, who thinks Lee is going to put many officers at risk for the sake of his son. With the help of his longtime colleague Vincent Tsui and Lee’s colleague, Deputy Commissioner Albert Kwong, Lee is taken off as acting Commissioner and with Commissioner York Tsang’s approval, Sean is now in charge of Cold War. However, despite their rivalry, Lau and Lee soon discover that the mastermind might be within their own ranks especially after a nearly botched ransom deal causes one of their own to lose his life, and the only way they can solve the case is working together.

What looks like a straightforward action thriller filled with dramatic tension between two rival officers of the Hong Kong police force actually is a much underrated thriller that not only focuses on the tension between these two rivals, but also gives an inside look at how the world of technology has changed in Hong Kong as well. Through Terence Yin’s computer expert Man To, we learn that even though the victims have been taken, their uniforms have a GPS system that should track their location as well as a GPS locator on the van when it is swiped. One wonders then how it is still possible to stage a kidnapping of this magnitude.

However, the primary focus of the film is the rivalry between the acting Commissioner who seems to go to extreme measures to find the location of the victims, only for the simple fact that his own son, a young officer, is one of the kidnappees. Tony Leung Ka-Fai, looking almost unrecognizable with a bald head and a beard (a far cry from his 90’s long hair look), does well as a power abuser whose main concern seems to be his son. As a father, this can be held to heart. However, as the acting Commissioner, being a father must come second due to the risk of losing officers all for the sake of his son.

Meanwhile, Aaron Kwok lives the life of a police officer whose career comes first and family second. He cares about his fellow officers as if they are family. He sees his longtime colleague not only as a fellow officer, but as a brother. However, his job comes first and to protect the integrity of the police force, like Lee does as a father, Kwok’s Lau must ensure by any means necessary of making sure Lee must manage his job right or lose the title of acting Commissioner. Once Lau takes over, chaos ensues as Lau becomes suspected of embezzling after the nearly botched random deal. Kudos has to go out to Aarif Rahman, who does an impressive job as a young ICAC officer hot on the trail of Lau and Lee as he searches for answers.

Chin Ka-Lok is without a doubt one of the top action coordinators today. He has become the “go-to” guy for the millennial “police action” thriller when it comes to showcasing elaborate stunts and gunfire galore. Once again, Chin, joined by Wong Wai-Fai, delivers the goods in terms of action and stunts. While there are barely any fisticuffs, that’s okay as we the action complements the dramatic portion very well.

Cold War is a pretty well-done police thriller that revolves around both a kidnapping and the power struggle between two high ranking officers that also involves the technological changes of the new millennium in Hong Kong. The ensemble cast does an great job overall in this thriller and it is worth a rental.



The Ref (1994)

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Denis Leary spreads some unorthodox Christmas cheer in this hilarious film.

Gus is a cat burglar who is in Connecticut for what is to be his final score before deciding to retire. However, when he ends up nearly booby-trapped in the house, he ends up getting bitten by the owner’s dog and even worse, his partner in crime has left him. Meanwhile, Lloyd and Caroline are a bickering couple on the verge of divorcing. As they prepare to spend Christmas Eve with family members, Gus takes the couple hostage.

While Lloyd and Caroline are taken hostage, their ickering proves to a bother for Gus, who finds Murray, the man who left him, and demands to find them a getaway vehicle. As Murray does his part, Lloyd and Caroline’s son Jesse, a con artist in his own right, returns home from military academy. While Gus takes Jesse hostage, the two form a bit of a bond but when the rest of the family arrives, Gus has no other choice but to pose as Lloyd and Caroline’s marriage counselor and keep Jesse hidden. It is then when everything is about to go from bad to worse!

This 1990’s comedy was made to capitalize on the fame of Denis Leary, who brings his hilarious antics in the role of Gus, a cat burglar on the verge of retirement who finds himself having to be the titular “ref” between the couple he has been forced to hold hostage. As Gus, Leary brings some of his trademark comebacks and grunts to the role and even has to use those skills to work against various members of the family when they arrive for Christmas Eve. And this is truly one dysfunctional family we are talking about here.

Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, especially Spacey, comes off well as the bickering couple who make Gus’ life go from bad to worse. Davis is the neglected wife who feels her husband is only trying to make his mother happy and the heck with the rest of the family. Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. gives ample support in his screen time as Jesse, the teen con artist son of Lloyd and Caroline. He bonds with Gus even though Gus tries to convince him that the job is not it is cracked up to be. Glynis Johns is quite overbearing as the mother who always meddles in Lloyd and Caroline’s marriage, the catalyst for their bickering. Christine Baranski provides some comic relief as the dominant wife of Lloyd’s brother, who at one point even gets a tongue thrashing from Gus.

There is a running dialogue involving the character of George, who starts out as a nice Santa Claus for the community only to delve into a bit of a downward spiral of his own. While he is a minor character, the character of Murray provides even more reason for Gus to go off the deep end. After all, it is his leaving Gus in the lurches that is the cause for everything that happens in the movie. And yet it is so funny how Gus berates Murray when they even talk, especially in what has to be one of the funniest dialogues to end a movie, hands down.

The Ref is unlike any Christmas movie, but it is so funny thanks to Denis Leary and even Kevin Spacey, who gets a scene stealing performance that is just outright funny!


Touchstone Pictures presents a Simpson-Bruckheimer Films production. Director: Ted Demme. Producers: Richard LaGravenese and Jeff Weiss. Writer: Marie Weiss; story by Richard LaGravenese. Cinematography: Adam Kimmel. Editing: Jeffrey Wolf.

Cast: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Richard Bright, Christine Baranski, Adam LeFevre, Ellie Raab, Phillip Nicoll, Bill Raymond.