Year of release: 2002
Angelica Lee. Image courtesy of Panorama.
Even though The Eye has been receiving generally good reviews (an increasing rarity these days for HK movies), I was a bit hesitant to see it. The Pang Brothers' previous film Bangkok Dangerous had sparks of greatness, but was a bit too derivative of John Woo and Wong Kar-Wai for my tastes, and when The Eye started to draw comparisons with The Sixth Sense (one of the most over-rated movies of the last decade in my opinion), I was pretty turned off. However, upon giving The Eye a chance, I was pleasantly surprised. While it's not a great movie by any means, it is a slick thriller that is a lot better than many other recent "ghost" movies from both sides of the ocean.
In the movie, Angelica Lee plays a blind woman who gains sight after a cornea transplant. Her new sight proves to be troublesome when she starts seeing ghosts (hence the "I see dead people" comparisions, though thankfully Lee is nowhere near as annoying as that little bastard Haley Joel Osment). Through a series of events and with the help of her psychatrist (Lawrence Chow), Lee learns the cause of her visions and sets off on a journey to put them to an end.
Lawrence Chow. Image courtesy of Panorama.
While I am not a big fan of ghost or psychological horror stories, I will admit The Eye does a good job in setting up a creepy mood. Of particular note are several Fight Club-esque almost subliminal shots which cause the viewer to become almost disoriented at times, but in a good way. While it does take some time to get going, the payoff is definitely worth the wait, especially since newcomer Angelica Lee does a great job with her role. In contrast to many of the other young HK actors who tend to overact, Lee takes a more natural approach that really works with the material.
Overall, The Eye is a solid film that should please fans of the genre, as well as those who are normally turned off by Hong Kong's usual over-the-top take on horror movies. Like Shamalyan's Unbreakable, the Pang Brothers' follow-up to their critically successful (yet flawed) debut is much more assured in their own style. Instead of parroting other film-makers' techniques, the Pang Brothers seem to be moving in their own direction, and I look forward to seeing more films from the pair in the future.
Candy Lo. Image courtesy of Panorama.