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Original Title:
Sam Hon

Hong Kong 2003

Thriller, Horror, Drama

Billy Cheung

Francis Ng
Athena Chu
Nick Cheung
Tiffany Lee
Hui Shiu Hung
Lok Ying Kwan
Patrick Tang

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Story: Chan Kwok-Ming (Francis Ng) is a cop and sits with his wife Mok Sum-Yi (Athena Chu) in his car in a traffic jam. While the two talk about a divorce, Chan becomes a witness of an armed robbery and interferes although being off duty at the moment. In the following shooting Chan's wife gets hit by a bullet right at the head.
After weeks in a koma Sum-Yi finally awakens. Under medical supervision by her doctor Ko Chun (Nick Cheung), she soon recovers. However, she isn't the same person anymore. She is haunted by visions and the ghost of a woman. Even though she needs the help and support of her husband more than ever, Chan is again occupied with doing his work instead of caring about his wife.
Chan is after a serial killer, who marks his victims with a strange wound at the neck. When one of the next victims is found by Chan's wife through one of her visions it seems that the killer is not an unknown...

Review: The plot of "Shiver" surely isn't very original and a lot of parts seem to be cribbed by director Billy Chung from other genres just as he pleases. Although this genre-mix doesn't work out all the time, Chung manages to deliver a stylish and entertaining thriller that stands out with its cold and somber look.

At first one might think that the movie is nothing less than a clone of "The Eye". Yet, the crime story about a serial killer soon disabuses us. Nonetheless, there are in fact some pretty well done creepy moments and the continuous panic of Sum-Yi that with time drives her crazy is portrayed with surprising authenticity by Athena Chu.
Francis Ng on the other side is the quite and always cool cop, who actually loves his wife, but can't show it to her. More than often the viewer just wants to take im aside and slap him for the way he treats his wife, fails to care for her and lets her suffer.
Nick Cheung doesn't show much of his character as the introverted doctor. Only pretty late in the movie we get to know more about him and his past, so that he finally can show more of his human side.

Albeit it might be relatively unimportant I don't want to hide the fact that for this review I only had the dubbed mandarin version and not the original cantonese dubbed one. As it is with most dubbed versions this one, too, isn't that well done and surely deprives the movie of a lot of its style.

"Shiver" has a well told story with some twists, that can actually be surprising. The pacing of the movie is well balanced, so that the quite, emotional moments alternate with action sequences in a good relation. With a good portion of self irony, some gory scenes and a few shocking moments the movie builds up a consecutive high tension. The directing of Billy Chung is a bit above average and together with the actors this makes the movie a non-rememberable, but entertaining ride.

However, there are more than enough flaws to be found in the movie. While there are a lot of horror elements in the beginning of the movie, they suddenly are to be found few and fewer in the course of the movie until there is nearly nothing of it at the end. Instead the movie becomes more and more a cop thriller with a little bit of drama every now and then. Even though the mixture of thriller and drama doesn't work out perfectly, the director would have done well to concentrate just on these two genres without also having to throw in some horror stuff.

The story is thrilling, yet it gets weaker towards the end. It's just to easy to guess who the real culprit is only the why can score some points. There are a lot of plot holes, a resolving that feels too artificial, and a true ocean of overdone emotions. Some of the characters' behavior are never explained, about most of them we do know just too little and with cop Chan we can sympathize relatively late. Yet, interestingly enough, it isn't difficult for us to suffer and fight alongside with the characters.

Billy Chung doesn't create anything new, but skillfully steals from other movies as he wishes. The end product is a woozy mixed bag, that is kept together by a solid directing, good actors and a nice story. Sometimes creepy, at other times thrilling, full of action or dramatic, "Shiver" can keep up the viewer's interest. Especially the winking that Chung brought into the movie at some scenes, mainly in the last scene, is representative for the movie's odd style. "Shiver" can guarantee a nice evening, but nothing more.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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