The Occupant

This was actually one of the very first HK films that I ever saw in a theater a number of years back on a trip to London and I have always had fond if vague memories of it. At the time I don’t really think I knew who Chow Yun Fat and Sally Yeh were – and certainly didn’t realize that they had been paired off in one of the greatest films ever made – The Killer. Their chemistry even back then was quite apparent and Sally has said that her favorite actor to work with was Chow Yun-Fat.
This film made back in 1984 before either one of them had become famous, holds up quite well I thought. Having just watched Sally in Shanghai Blues, produced in the same year, makes me realize again how under appreciated she is as an actress. In Shanghai Blues she is all screwball wide-eyed hysteria, while here she is calm, sophisticated and in control. Chow just looks so fabulous in this film – lean and playful – and the charisma that may not have been evident to the audience back then just leaps out at you now.
This film directed by Ronnie Yu (Bride with White Hair) is an amiable ghost story for the most part. It’s really more of an eerie mood piece than a scary horror film. Yu creates some lovely interior sets (art direction by Tony Au) and uses the camera very well to capture the atmosphere. The film does have a slight schizophrenic feel to it though as it mixes the dramatic acting of Chow and Yeh with the goofy and at times annoying presence of Raymond Wong. Sometimes this contrast plays to good effect, at other times you just wish Wong would vanish and leave the film to Chow and Sally.
Sally comes to Canada to work on her Masters – a paper on Chinese superstition. She finds a very inexpensive apartment through realtor Raymond Wong. The apartment is large and beautiful and Wong tells her that there must be ghosts here for the apartment to be so cheap – and offers to take his pants off and run around the apartment to ward off evil spirits! Wong spends much of the film trying to either get out of his pants or into Sally's.

It turns out of course that there is a ghost of a dead singer who killed her married lover and then shot herself. She throws Raymond out the window – after bedding him in a midair sexual escapade – and this brings policeman, Chow Yun Fat, to Sally’s door. He too is immediately smitten with Sally and tries to get to the bottom of this supernatural mystery. He goes to his sifu – Lo Lieh – to see what he can do to exorcise the ghost.

Both Chow and Wong want Sally to leave the apartment, but – hey – apartments in HK don’t come cheap and besides she did come to HK to study superstition. After a while though Sally begins acting very strangely.
The film is quickly paced – amusing at times – has one lovely smoldering eye contact scene between Sally and Chow and is overall an enjoyable tale to watch. Just don’t expect a lot of scary jolts.
 
My rating for this film: 7.5


DVD Information:

Universe Laser and Video Co.

Excellent clear film transfer for the most part – some of the interior scenes seemed a bit murky, but nothing too bothersome.

Letterbox

Trailer

Previews of The Greatest Lover, Diary of a Big Man, The Fun, The Luck and the Tycoon

Written information on Chow Yun-Fat, Sally Yeh and Ronnie Yu

8 Chapters

Removable subs

Easy to read subs

Very pleased with overall quality of DVD.