Intruder



Reviewed by YTSL

Advance warning:  This Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai production is for those people who (can) actually enjoy enduring the kind of suspense that contorts and ties up one's nerves and guts, and who don't mind being scared out of their wits.  To put it mildly:  I don't consider myself to fall into that category of viewer.  As such, my reactions to this blood curdling, stomach churning piece might not be representative of this dark picture's target audience, and probably is more extreme than what others will have (had).  Nonetheless, I think I can understand now how their second offering -- for which Tsang Kan-Cheung was the scriptwriter as well as director -- came to be Milkyway Image's biggest box office bomb to date even while recognizing that this 1997 film is a well-crafted piece of work.  Alternatively put:  It's the kind of movie that does not exactly warrant a repeat viewing experience and which one cannot recommend to many -- especially more squeamish -- others.

INTRUDER is a not unintelligent Category III rated horror show that plays to -- and up -- the fears of solitary Hong Kongers.  One of these anxieties is that which is shared by many of the world's urbanites who are solitary dwellers:  Namely, that they will one day have the misfortune of falling prey in their own homes to a dangerous stranger who they hadn't thought to distrust.  Another dread is specific though to this Special Administrative Region of China:  That is, that not too far away from where they live -- more precisely, just across its border with China proper -- are heinous criminals who will stop at nothing (including selling their bodies, murdering young and old folk, then taking over other people's identities) to help themselves and those they love.
Wu Chien-Lien is surprisingly convincing in INTRUDER as the Mainland Chinese woman who slips into Hong Kong in the guise of a prostitute who she met and killed in the border town of Shenzhen.  Following her successful acquisition of the official documents that identify her as the long-haired streetwalker she had efficiently strangled (who turns out to have a husband waiting for her in Hong Kong played by the film's action director, Yuen Bun), she finds the type of man she specifically sought:  One who lives alone in a house seemingly in the middle of nowhere, who appeared to neither care nor is cared for by anyone (This unknowing victim is portrayed by Wayne Lai).  After spending time in -- and checking out -- his abode, she sets into motion her plan to get what she wants from him by running over his legs one night with a rented car and thereby rendering him physically less mobile than he previously was.
All was going well for this seriously scary INTRUDER -- whose real name is Yieh Siu Yan --until a typhoon (warning) delays the arrival of her husband (Moses Chan is at least as menacing a presence in this film as its lead actress) and also causes her victim's estranged mother (Bonnie Wong plays this unfortunate being) to actually worry about the welfare of her son so much that she decides to pay him a visit.  Although the older woman had decided not to bring along her granddaughter, rest assured that the young girl does have a part to play in sending chills to the bone of this movie's already amply frazzled by then viewers (One has to wonder re the sanity of Laai Yuen Tung's parents to allow the admirably spunky lass to have the role that she has in this work!  Frankly, in light of what happens to other children in Johnnie To's "The Heroic Trio" and "Beyond Hypothermia"...).
Yuen Bun
Considering the significant amount of apprehension and consternation summoned up by the actions of INTRUDER's villain(s), it actually might come as a shock to realize that not that many individuals get murdered in this work.  Alternatively, it may well be precisely the modest scale and methods of effecting -- and dealing with the aftermath of -- what really are very violent events that can be truly frightening.  By this I mean that it may well be precisely such characteristics which cause the viewer to reckon that it doesn't necessitate too much of an imaginative leap to think that such could easily happen to her (or him).  Such unsettled sensibilities are hardly allayed by the movie's makers giving the tension-filled work a "true crimes" feel and encouraging the audience at film's end to think of how things could be worse -- or even just that there probably will be a -- "next time"...

My rating for this film:  7.