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INNER SENSES

From Hong Kong, an “homage” to THE SIXTH SENSE that boasts a slick veneer, fine performances and some memorable shocks.  It’s far from great, but you could certainly do worse. 

The Package
     In addition to THE SIXTH SENSE, from which this film borrows its overall premise and title, the most prominent influences on 2002’s INNER SENSES (YEE DO HUNG GAAN) are recent Japanese horror films like RINGU and KAIRO, along with THE EYE from South Korea.  This film represents a concerted effort, in other words, to move away from the slapdash aesthetic of most Hong Kong movies to the more sleek and thoughtful genre fare from Japan and Korea.  Many commentators claim Hong Kong cinema is dead, and this film, although it’s reasonably effective, doesn’t do a lot to contradict that view.
    Sadly, INNER SENSES marked the final film appearance of Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung (headliner of HK classics like A BETTER TOMORROW, A CHINESE GHOST STORY, THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR and ASHES OF TIME), who took his own life on April 1, 2003.  The plot of INNER SENSES, involving a ghost who tries to force Cheung’s character to jump off the roof of a building, has some decidedly unnerving parallels to Cheung’s real life suicide, which happened to involve a jump from a tall building... 

The Story
     Yan, a young woman, has just moved into a creepy apartment building where she sees ghosts...or does she?  She visits Jim, a shrink with buried issues of his own.  He tries hard to convince Yan that ghosts don’t exist and her sightings are a mental aberration brought on by a difficult childhood.  Jim’s suspicions gain credence when he stumbles upon a freaky dude who lives downstairs from Yan, where said freak has been making suspicious noises.  Jim also arranges a meeting between Yan and her parents, where she at last gets the opportunity to confront them about her childhood traumas and is thus “cured” of her delusions.
     The problem is that now Jim has begun seeing ghosts, in particular that of an old girlfriend who killed herself after he dumped her.  He suspects Yan, with whom he’s become romantically involved, is driving him crazy, but his old GF’s ghostly visitations seem disturbingly real, so much so that he takes to following her where she beckons, which inevitably leads to the top of a tall building… 

The Direction
     Director Chi-Leung Law tries hard to create a quietly unnerving atmosphere, and on occasion succeeds admirably.  A scene in a swimming pool, with Jim’s deceased lover beckoning to him from the bottom, is particularly effective, as is a bit where Yan sees a family of ghosts appear behind her on an internet cam.  There are times, though, when the proceedings degenerate into traditional Hong Kong movie cheese, in particular the LAME music video interludes illustrating Yan and Jim’s burgeoning relationship.
     Stylistically, INNER SENSES is mighty similar to RINGU, KAIRO, et al.  The ghostly visitations are nearly identical to those of THE EYE, while the abovementioned internet scare is right out of RINGU.  Perhaps it’s this reason that the film, undeniably well made though it is, ultimately didn’t do much for me; I recommend it, but would strongly advise viewing those other films first. 

Vital Statistics 

INNER SENSES (YEE DO HUNG GAAN)
Tai Seng Entertainment/Filmco Pictures 

Director: Lo Chi Leung
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Karena Lam, Waise Lee, Valerie Chow, Norman Tsui, Maggie Poon
 


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