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I saw the first 75% of this movie in a flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. 25% was missed because I started watching a bit too late. I just watched it now and completed the film. "Nightfall" is a good drama / thriller which can be tightened. The plot and the atmosphere are first-rate. The editing and the overall storytelling, though, fall short. I watched it with this fluctuating feelings of high and low. Some parts are so gripping I can't take my eyes off. Some parts are so visually cut off of the rest of the film. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a case of walkout, and the walker would be definitely at a loss. The Simon Yam character is believable as a seasoned but sometimes weary-of-life police officer. His emotional final scene, with him receiving a phone message from the dead, is a good sum-up of the entire film. The Eugene Wang character, though, while physically convincing in every way, misses some good opportunities to give the film its deserving depth. I would have contrasted his hard face all through the film with the other serene and fulfilled one on his way down, as he has fulfilled every obligation as a man and a father. HIs slow-motion fall should have revealed to us an immeasurable love of a parent to his or her child. It will suit well with the girl's innocent question to the inspector: who is this man protector of mine? Anyway, this film will not fail to entertain you. Just like me: try asking all these silly questions after the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every viewer has a his/her own line of believability for plot lines.
The line between acceptable realism and ridiculousness is not that wide
but varies from person to person.
This works for me. Works better than say, overheard 2 or the beast movie. Those are probably technically a bit better. Even though the plot here is just as borderline over the top. I can't really tell you line, but this one stayed behind the line for me.
Yes, the opening sequence of the fight is a bit over. But maybe because it kind of calm down after that. It got the action out of the way. The mystery is not that mysterious and is well lay out for audience to catch-on. The performances are up to par. Likely because the pacing is not in a hurry.
There are complaints. The washroom sequence of different levels is an old trick I don't like to see. It's dumb down to trickery. And near the end a bit more, flash back and tidying up then probably needed be - we get it. And I wonder why they didn't close up the cop's daughter relationship instead.
A solid try/stab at a crime thriller. Unfortunately this isn't as good
as you might hope for. It aims high but can't quite deliver on that
promise. Apart from story flaws (and/or the predictability of its
twists and turns) even some of the well known actors are a bit of a
letdown. Especially the "villain" of the piece goes really OTT in a
very bad way that is.
You can still watch the movie and enjoy it, it's just that you might want to use that time and watch a better movie. The thrill factor isn't that high, unless you really can avoid guessing where this is heading. I can't imagine how that would be possible, but who knows. Not completely bad, but really not good either
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two years ago, Roy Chow's highly-anticipated directorial debut in
MURDERER (2009) was a serious train-wreck of a movie which featured
terribly absurd plot and especially a ridiculously over-the-top
performance by Aaron Kwok. And now he's back with another psychological
thriller. At the first glance, his new movie entitled NIGHTFALL is
simply hard not to miss. After all, it features two of among most
top-notch Hong Kong actors working today -- Nick Cheung and Simon Yam.
Coupled with an intense trailer and the infamous "wanted by police"
poster which has attracted mass popularity among the public, there's no
doubt that the marketing campaign so far has done a truly effective job
to lure the viewers into seeing the movie. Unfortunately the movie
itself is a polar opposite. Instead of what could have been a strong
thriller turns out to be a complete cop-out. I'm sad to say that like
MURDERER, NIGHTFALL is yet another cinematic embarrassment that totally
wasted the talents of Nick Cheung and Simon Yam.
The movie opens intensely with a vicious prison fight involving Eugene Wong (Nick Cheung) being assaulted by a number of other inmates in the shower room but he manages to retaliate by killing them all with his bare hands and a metal drain cover. Then, we later learn he is released after serving 20 years in prison. The first thing he does is spying on Zoe Tsui (Janice Man), a piano student whose father, Han (Michael Wong), is a celebrity opera singer. So he ends up renting a shack directly across from Tsuis' country mansion and uses bugging devices to eavesdrop every conversation as well as telescope to monitor every movements. He discovers that Han is an abusive father who is particularly dislikes Zoe to befriend with any guys at all because he thinks all men out there are monsters.
Enter Inspector George Lam (Simon Yam), a burned-out cop who has a murky past involving his suicidal wife. He is called upon an investigation when Han is found murdered in a gruesome manner. With the way Han is killed, he immediately suspects Eugene as the main culprit. However, the case turns out to be more complicated than it seems as Lam digs further into the Tsui family history and discovers there's something fishy going on behind all the murder.
Clocking at 107 min, NIGHTFALL is certainly a butt-numbing experience that feels like forever. On paper, Christine To's script sounds like a potential winner but the execution itself is such a bloated mess. Again, she and Roy Chow can't resist the temptation of toying the viewers with a number of misdirections and twists for the sake to spice things up. Unfortunately a lot of things doesn't make a lick of sense, because they just lay out the surface but they don't even bother to elaborate them further. Coupled with an awfully slow pace, this movie is simply an uninvolving thriller that doesn't recover at all as the story progresses further.
For example: When Wang is first released from prison, we see him wandering around the streets of Hong Kong, eating ice cream while ogling young women. Then he begins stalking on Zoe, which strongly suggests him as a pervert. But what comes later is entirely different story altogether. Let's just say Wang isn't exactly a perverted or psychotic type -- but actually a victim of circumstances who simply doing this because he wants to prove something to the cops. And seriously, his sudden change of character from what we see earlier and subsequent scene is simply preposterous. Then there's Simon Yam's character as George Lam. Earlier, we learn he still can't get over his wife's suicidal death and convinced that she's actually being murdered by someone. Unfortunately that subplot isn't explored further and not even mention again as the movie moves on. I could go on and on with plenty more flaws surrounding this awful movie, but you just have to watch it yourself to see what I mean here.
As for the cast, I really admired how Nick Cheung has worked very hard to pull off a convincing act as a convict with mental problem. But despite his impressive toned-up muscles and method acting (in which he performs entirely with body language because his character depicts as a mute person), it's too bad that his role is underwritten to make him worthwhile. Same goes to Simon Yam, in which he is wasted here as well. The rest of the supporting actors are equally disappointing as well, with Michael Wong overacts as an abusive father and Janice Man sleepwalks through her dual role as Zoe and Eva.
Another glaring problem here is Chow's lackluster direction to keep things as suspenseful as possible. Often in times, he simply stops cold with lots of talky expositions rather than presenting them in an engaging visual manner. If anything, only the minor scene involving the exciting mano-a-mano fight between Wang and Lam in the Ngong Ping cable car (even that alone served more as an excuse for no reason whatsoever).
But none of the problems come worst than the climactic third-act. From here onward, both Roy Chow and Christine To has gone overboard by laying out all the expository revelation of the actual going-on. The good news is, the ending has none of the shockingly out-of-nowhere twist like MURDERER but even so, the twist here is so heavily convoluted that you will be scratching your head in disbelief once you piece out every puzzle altogether.
NIGHTFALL is a huge disappointment and particularly a wasted opportunity to utilize Nick Cheung and Simon Yam in a satisfying manner. One of the most disappointing Hong Kong movies of the year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Once bitten and could have been twice shy, but lessons learnt from that
experience will prove rewarding. Writer-Director Roy Chow's first foray
into the Hong Kong crime thriller genre with the film Murderer could
have been an impressive debut, boasting Aaron Kwok as a leading man
after his stellar outing in C+ Detective, but alas was let down by what
would be a débutant's relatively naive handling of the big reveal in a
mystery that's set up for a big wow, but only to fall flat and too hard
against the required suspension of disbelief. But in his second attempt
with co-writer Christine To, they had come up with a better story and
while no instant classic, had all the right ingredients put in for a
taut, pacey thriller from start to finish.
Nick Cheung is going places albeit going dangerously close to repeating himself at times. The film opens with a gritty, prison bathroom fight where his buffed and mute Wang goes up against a group of bullying goons. This prologue doesn't tie in too closely with the film proper and stands out by itself, but nobody's complaining for the hard hitting fight scenes here where Cheung gets into a close quartered survival battle if only to cement his character's reputation as a mean machine. He's released from prison after 20 years for a crime he claimed to have not committed, but admitted guilty to anyway, involving the horrific rape and murder of his lover Eva (Janice Man) at her family home. He soon finds himself stalking a teenage pianist Zoe (also played by Janice Man) who bears uncanny semblance to Eva, and discovers that her dad is none other than Eva's dad, the acclaimed pianist Han Tsui (Michael Wong).
Han Tsui is soon discovered murdered in most gruesome fashion - burnt, drowned, void of prints - near his mansion, and the film proper gets underway where two murders under the same family tree gets investigated by detective Lam (Simon Yam), who reopens Wang's 20 year old case while investigating into the current one. You'll know that they're related in some way, but the journey this film takes is to understand the Whys and the Hows, which both Roy Chow and Christine To managed to pull off yet another surprise and twist in their story, but one that is more palatable, direct, and handled with a certain finese when compared against their clunky first time endeavour that drew more laughter instead. Things are kept suspenseful with Chow pulling off atmospheric moments, though at times lapsing into horror film territory with overzealous jump cuts.
But he is slowly showing his ability in crafting action sequences, from the bathroom brawl the opened the film, to the highlight which is the cable car rumble at Ngong Ping, which had noticeable CG involvement (a pity that the landmark is now closed for an indefinite period of time for servicing). Foot chases scenes were also handled deftly, with Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi chiming in with a punchy score heavy on the drum beats to accentuate that systematic cat and mouse game played out, and relentless pursuit by cops with escape at the nick of time episodes. I would even go out to say if not for Umebayashi's score, this film would have felt robbed of a key element And of course they now have two acclaimed actors to thank for this as well, hooking you in with their charisma and engaging screen presence. Simon Yam bears a grungy, bearded look that fits in with an experienced, tired cop who's facing problems with his teenage daughter, and carries an emotional baggage that's relatively unexplored with the death of his wife, if only for this to serve as fuel for his desire to dive deep into the unsolved cases at hand. Gordon Liu also pops out for a cameo as an ex-cop there to jog Lam's memory of a series of events that ties both Lam and Wang even closer than imagined to the 20 year old case which will unravel itself from fuzzy still photo shots in the opening credits, to full blown revelation as time goes on.
Nick Cheung has his character's vocal chords taken away from him for his role here, and has to rely on everything else, especially on his facial expression, to bring you to his cause, and keeping you wondering just how involved or guilty his character is, being the number one creepy stalker who sneaks into everyone's home, and leave you wondering just what his game is in his deliberate leaving behind of clues, or blatant attacks against cops. Needless to say his limited face off scenes opposite Simon Yam were the most delicious to watch. He's a relatively late bloomer in the industry, but is now growing in stature and fast becoming one of my favourite actors from the territory.
The film's theme deals with family relationships especially that between fathers and daughters that is central to the entire plot, in having no less than three prime case studies put on display. Michael Wong chips in as the hypocritical man you'll grow to love to hate, and the Cantonese version here (I can imagine how awfully dubbed he is going to sound in the Singapore Chinese dubbed print) plays up to that hypocrisy very well. To lighten things up at times in this sombre film, Kay Tse plays a token female cop opposite Simon Yam's Lam who clearly develops feelings for the widower but got spurned at every turn, so stay tuned when the end credits roll for that little bit of closure here.
Roy Chow may not bear the pedigree of other crime thriller filmmakers in Hong Kong yet, but he's slowly and surely getting there. If this doesn't become an instant box office success (already released commercially in Hong Kong), it has definite legs to become a cult classic with time. Recommended!
Not often do you get two of Hong Kong's best actors together on the big
screen, so the pairing of Nick Cheung and Simon Yam alone should
interest you in the mystery thriller 'Nightfall'. Alas if you're
looking for this latest Roy Chow Hin-Yeung film to be as gritty and
compelling as Dante Lam's 'Beast Stalker' or 'The Stool Pigeon', you're
likely to be quite disappointed- because both actors are essentially
wasted in a movie that is too caught up in its own self-seriousness for
its own good.
To be fair, we probably should have kept our hopes low, knowing that Chow is once again teaming up with his directorial debut 'Murderer's' screenwriter Christine To. Anyone who's seen the latter film will know that it was quite simply one of the worst movies of that year, with an infuriating twist ending that all but turned its heavy-handed proceedings into unintentional comedy. Thankfully, To avoids that mistake this time, opting for a far more straightforward mystery that nevertheless still requires a significant suspension of disbelief on the part of her audience.
As formula would have it, the film starts off with two seemingly unrelated murder cases that grow increasingly intertwined as the story progresses. On one hand is a gruesome murder committed twenty years ago of a young teenage girl named Eva (Janice Man), whose convicted murderer was her boyfriend Wang (Nick Cheung). Shortly after Wang's release from prison, Eva's father- the acclaimed classical tenor Han Tsui (Michael Wong)- is found brutally murdered and dumped into the sea near his sprawling mansion up in the mountains.
Investigating the case is the disillusioned veteran Lam (Simon Yam), who obsesses over previously closed cases of death by suicide, convinced that- like the death of his wife five years ago- they weren't accidents. Lam sees a connection between Han Tsui's death and Wang after recognising a striking resemblance between Han's daughter Zoe (also played by Man) and Eva. Of course, we know as much from the scenes of Wang stalking Zoe in her residence, going so far as to acquire a village hut opposite Zoe's house and using a telescope to observe what goes on in the house.
Any hope that the film lives up to the promise of the trailer of an intriguing whodunit is quickly dashed when one realises that the movie only revolves around these few players as well as Eva's distressed mother. You'll probably guess right at the start that it isn't simply a crime of vengeance, though Han- as the domineering parent- had disapproved of Wang's relationship with Eva all those years back. Indeed, what transpires comes closer to a Greek tragedy, made no less subtle by blatant overacting and an overly zealous score from Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi.
Guilty of the Aaron Kwok brand of overacting in 'Murderer' this time is Michael Wong, whose violent outbursts at what he perceives as his daughter's disobedience comes off histrionic and ultimately contrived. There is too little subtlety in his over-the-top performance, and not enough motivation for us to believe in his character's propensities. The fault isn't entirely Wong's, since his character- despite being a key supporting player in the scheme of things- is thinly drawn.
The same can be said of almost all of the characters within the movie. Other than being a doppelganger for Eva, Zoe is cast too simply as the meek goody-two-shoes living in fear of her father's temperament. Yam is shortchanged with the clichéd role of a troubled veteran police officer, as To's script does little to elaborate his own traumatic past or attempt to link it to the investigation. Probably the meatiest role here is Cheung's, which the actor rewards with a searing intensity that also came with months of working out- not that his character is particularly well-drawn, but compared to the rest, at least his comes off the most rounded and realistic.
There's however too little realism in the movie, in particular Wang's amazing ability at evading an entire team of police officers several times and his just as outstanding powers of infiltrating what is supposed to be a heavily guarded residence after Han's death. Most perplexing is why Lam would confront Wang on an Ngong Ping cable car no less, other than for the fact that it must have seemed exciting to watch. Every step of the way, Chow's ham-fisted direction is all too apparent, trying too hard to emphasise the tragedy within the story and in the process draining too much momentum from what is really a standard police procedural.
Its mediocrity would have been fine if it didn't have both Simon Yam and Nick Cheung as its lead cast, both actors worthy of much less pedestrian material than what 'Nightfall' has to offer. Certainly, it is a definite step-up from the appallingly bad 'Murderer', but don't go in expecting the same kind of compelling thriller as 'Beast Stalker' or 'The Stool Pigeon'. And yes we know, this is the second time we're comparing this movie to the latter two, simply because though it aims to be of the same pedigree, 'Nightfall' simply falls short, and what is left is a plodding and generic thriller that barely raises a pulse.
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