Inner Senses

Inner Senses

Rating: 7/10
Year: 2002
Genre: Thriller
Director: Bruce Law
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Karena Lam, Waise Lee, Valerie Chow, Norman Tsui

2002 may become the revolutionary year for Hong Kong horror film genre. Released little earlier than The Eye, Inner Senses is another well constructed horror film that totally beats the mediocre and declining Troublesome Night series or its successors.

Similar to The Eyes in which both of them are probably inspired by the Hollywood blockbuster The Sixth Sense, it has a "ghost seeing" plot. Yan (Karena Lam) believes she sees dead people. Her doctor Wilson (Waise Lee), who is also her brother-in-law, refers her to his friend, a psychiatrist called Jim (Leslie Cheung). Jim diagnoses that it is all her illusions and cures her successfully. After Yan is recovered, Jim soon realizes he is suffering from what Yan used to suffer, he sees ghost himself! Eventually, he finally figures out that everything seems to be related to his unforgotten past...

Based on the experience of Double Tap, we should be aware that director Bruce Law likes to deal with his subject matter in a serious and professional manner. In Double Tap, he hired professional guns experts to teach Leslie Cheung and Alex Fong the proper way of loading and handling guns. In this film, the dialogues remind us of this professionalism again. Leslie Cheung's dialgoues as a psychiatrist appear plausible, yet Law also managed not to throw in a lot of medical terms to baffle us. I am certain he has spent a lot of time to consult with real medical professionals and ensure that every dialogue and medical procedure in the film look feasible.

Compared to the narrative strategy of Double Tap, this film shows enormous improvement. Law's depiction of characters in Double Tap lacks complex emotions. Psychological conflicts of the characters are hardly seen. In this film, although I wouldn't say it is perfect, the minds of the characters are portrayed in a much more visually engaging and subtle way. Law learned to give life to the characters by enriching their behaviors. Unlike the empty minded Rick (Leslie Cheung in Double Tap) who is always sitting there and crying, Jim has a way more complicated mind, and it is revealed to us through his dialogues, the decoration of his home, what he hides deep in his bookshelf...

Leslie Cheung's portrayal as the collapsed psychiatrist is extraordinary. He proves to us that he is not restricted to action or love story only. His range is much wider actually. Besides Cheung, the most interesting character is Norman Tsui. His character is exceedingly original and full of potentials to expand. It is too bad to see that he does not share too much screening time there.

The biggest problem of this film is that, it starts out brilliantly and promising but ends up deteriorating. The second half of this film is a total degression. To me, the theme of this film looks solid and clear at first. A hypothesis is constructed gradually in the first half - there is no ghost in the world. However, when Jim's problem arises, this hypothesis begins to shake. When the ghost pops up at last, it completely destroys what the director originally planned to convey. The inconsistent treatment of its theme is very distracting. Moreover, the image of the ghost looks significantly identical to the ghost in Ring 0 - Birth, even the wacky bone cracking noise is exactly duplicated, which is a deep disappointment.

In terms of the consistency of the subject matter and the ability of the director, Inner Senses is not a satisfactory work. Nevertheless, the professionalism and the enthusiasm of the production crew is well worth recognized and acknowledged.

VCD (HK version) - Horror films always contain noir style cinematography, it is not easy to identify the darkened objects on the screen easily. For the sake of a better image quality, the DVD version seems to be an inevitable choice.

Cool guy(s) - Leslie Cheung

Reviewed by: Kantorates