Intruder (1997)

Directed by
1997 anxieties made flesh
Reviewed by Simon on 2012-04-21

This early Milkyway Image film is a fine slice of 1997 paranoia, and a stylish thriller to boot. Wu Chien-Lien plays a woman from the mainland who kills a prostitute in Shenzhen and steals her identity to gain entrance to Hong Kong, and then attempt to get an ID card. Wayne Lai plays the Hong Kong resident who ends up embroiled in her plans.

Wu Chien-Lien's performance is the main factor that makes this film memorable, along with the typically impressive lighting and camera work that help to produce the film's atmosphere of menace and foreboding. Her character is cold, calculating and quite ruthless in the pursuit of her goals, embodying the local population's fear and mistrust of the country they were about to become a Special Administrative Region of. The locals may not be wonderful people, or even particularly good people, "but surely we don't deserve this!", the film seems to cry out.

Viewed from the vantage point of 15 years later (which is, shockingly, about how long it's taken me to track it down) these fears seem somewhat comical now... after some initial hesitation, Hong Kong has cheerfully embraced the chance to profit in the shadow of China's economic might whilst old friends like the UK crumble under it. It certainly captures a moment of history in style though.

The film serves up some fairly nasty violence at times, though the 'danger lurking in beauty' odds were upped rather conclusively by Takashi Miike's Audition a few years later. Intruder delivers more in atmosphere though, the sense of doom... the tension we feel as characters are oblivious to a nasty end heading their way, or a potential escape may or may not be about to be thwarted, keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat for much of the running time.

Worth the effort to track it down.


Action Director
Production Company

See also