Dir: Billy Chung
Star: Athena Chu, Francis Ng, Nick Cheung, Tiffany Lee

This spooky murder mystery stars Chu as Sammi, shot in the crossfire of a gun-battle when out with her soon-to-be-ex-husband cop Chan Kwok-Ming (Ng). While recovering, she starts having visions; these seem to portray the string of grisly murders Chan is investigating, in which the victims are losing body parts. Plus, a spectral woman turns up, with clockwork regularity, whenever Sammi is alone. What is going on?

It's difficult to commit fully to this kind of movie; I've seen enough to know that the better the set-up, the bigger the let-down when the eventual explanation fails to satisfy - as it inevitably does. And yes, while the jigsaw pieces don't fit together perfectly (the loss of body parts is never explained, and when someone has two slashed wrists, perhaps some kind of first aid might be helpful?), it does a good enough job to pass muster. Chu, in particular, is excellent at conveying terror - and there's plenty here to convey - while Cheung, playing her doctor, impresses in a small role.

The film also gets the relationship between Chen Ming and Sammi right; they love each other, but his job is the third side of the triangle, and he's more devoted to it than his wife. In a genre full of shallow characterisation, this is a cut above. Such subtlety should not be over-stated, given Chung is best known for Cat. III nasty Love to Kill. Though in fairness, he has matured in the intervening decade and largely pulls it off - even if the main aim in both could conceivably be described as "cheap thrills", albeit of two widely disparate sorts.

October 2004

Timbers will be shivered
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