by Del Harvey
This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.
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When I read the synopsis for Nude Fear, I hoped that this would be one of those foreign films which turns out to be good in spite of the poor title translation. Luckily, that turned out to be just the case.
It opens in 1978 as we watch a young girl waiting outside for her mother to come get her after school. Pretty soon she’s left all by herself and walks home alone. When she gets home the front door is partially open, and she enters, a child who is unaware of the horrors adults can visit upon their fellow humans. She knows something is wrong when she sees the apartment torn apart and a wide smear of blood across the floor. Seeing her Mother’s nude body tied up face down on the floor, she calls to her. When Mother doesn’t answer, the girl—young Joyce Chan—sits at her little desk and works on her homework. Drops of blood gather on the ceiling and drip down on her homework, frightening the girl so that she cries out for her Mother, tears rolling down her cheek.
Skip forward twenty years to the grown Detective Chan, a no-nonsense top investigator who is something of a loner and social outcast. Her fellow officers respect her, her supervisor openly lusts after her, and the police captain respects her. Within the first fifteen minutes we see her called to a case and solve it by carefully studying the evidence at the crime scene and the positioning of the victim. She is obviously very good at her work.
But beyond work there is little in Detective Chan’s life. This superficial lifestyle is the result of her discovering her Mother’s body all those years ago. And her next case is a copycat of her Mother’s murder. She recognizes it immediately. And the chase is on, with our heroine leading a special task force in pursuit of this serial killer.
Alan Mak directs from a Joe Ma/Susan Chan script, and it’s a great one for plot twists and surprises, enthralling the viewer and never letting up. The score, by Chung Chi Wing, utilizes music which matches the action onscreen very nicely—typically a soundtrack is unnoticeable or, as is so often the case with genre films, sounds pieced together from other soundtracks. And the acting is exceptional from leads to supporting cast. Kathy Chow’s Detective Chan holds our interest in spite of her being so withdrawn and aloof to the everyday world around her. Among the notable supporting turns are the popular Sam Lee as a razor-blade chomping acolyte of the killer, and Lau Ching-Wan as the father of a kidnapped girl who has been driven crazy by the serial killer’s psycho-play.
This film is rather daring for its efforts to address a horrible concept and do it with style and quality. So, ignore the title and rent this DVD. It’s an outstanding suspense film of the thriller/serial killer genre, and will keep you rapt until the final scene.
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.
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