Christian (Alain Delon) is a professional hitman who has just returned from Turkey where he assassinated yet another target: he doesn't particularly care who these people he kills are, he simply wants the price on their heads, and he's accomplished enough to make the hit clean and anonymous, just as those who hire him want it. When he gets back to his Paris home, he realises there is someone already there and draws his pistol, but then sees it is his friend and contact Michel (Etienne Chicot) who is sitting, drunk and miserable, on the sofa. Michel explains his mother has just died and he is taking it harder than he expected, so Christian consoles him a little, but really wants him out of there: in fact, he wants out of the assassination business altogether.
Star Alain Delon truly embraced the crime thriller genre after a number of domestic hits with it, and by the eighties it seemed these were pretty much all he was making; he evidently considered himself an expert, because with this he contributed to the script to get it exactly to his liking, and also directed some of it too, uncredited, but you had the impression Le Choc was precisely the sort of movie he wanted to make, at least demonstrating his talent for assembling guns blindfolded. Whether it genuinely showed him off to his best advantage was another matter entirely, sure, we saw him looking toned and tanned in the shower (full frontal behind the frosted glass door - steady on!), but if you ever thought he could have stretched himself, this wasn't the one to see.
Catherine Deneuve, a French star of similar wattage, was his romantic partner in the movie, yet her fans would be left rather let down when they twigged she was not going to be allowed to eclipse Delon, therefore she didn't appear at all in the first half hour. That opening act detailed Christian's endeavours to extricate himself from the profession that had made him so much profit, turning down big money until it's apparent he may want to leave all his behind but it does not want to leave him behind. It also establishes a recurring scene where he is confronted by someone toting a gun who tells him they are not going to allow him to get away: this happens so often that it becomes almost a running joke, or it would if it had been funny.
Anyway, Christian opts to escape to the country, after briefly pausing to leave his cat with a needy girlfriend (Catherine Leprince) and ensuring his oodles of cash are safe with his animal-collecting accountant (an uncredited Stéphane Audran). Soon he is down on the farm with that well known turkey farmer Deneuve, who is married to Philippe Léotard, a rather wayward fellow who likes to blare modern jazz from his music centre at mealtimes and sets off alarms in the warehouse holding the birds as an "experiment". Naturally, Deneuve's Claire takes one look at our hero and thinks "I'll have some of that" and before you can say "canoodling Gallic megastars" they are rolling around on the rug before a roaring hearth in a tastefully-filmed love scene (i.e. you don't see very much).
But just as this is settling into a rural romance between a man with a past and a woman with a bunch of gobblers, a group of ne'erdowells show up and see to it that Christian is dragged back into his old life by holding him at gunpoint one night. Claire displays unexpected ingenuity (and strength) by running the leader through with some coal tongs as her lover shoots the others and they go on the run (the husband having been dispatched in the melée). However they are not getting away that easily, and soon they are kidnapped with Claire separated from Christian (so even less screen time for Deneuve) and the hitman forced to attempt an assassination on a visiting Arab dignitary, at the Arc de Triomphe, no less (presumably the Eiffel Tower was busy that day). This is all very well, but in spite of heavy Delon input it doesn't amount to much other than showing him off as a capable man of action and irresistable example of masculinity, so unless you're a really big fan of him there's not much to offer. It's lightly diverting, yet oddly unexciting. Music by Philippe Sarde.