Nightfall Blu-ray Review
“In revenge, there’s a fine line between life and death.” So goes the tagline for the Hong Kong crime thriller NIGHTFALL. That revenge involves two men: Wong Yuen-yeung (Nick Cheung, 2008’s BEAST STALKER and 2010’s THE STOOL PIGEON, both directed by Dante Lam), out on parole after serving years for the murder of a teenager, and detective George Lam Ching-chung (Simon Yam, 2010’s ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW, which earned him the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor), who doesn’t buy the coroner’s ruling that his wife’s death was a suicide.
Soon after release, Wong Yuen-yeung sets his sights on Zoe (Janic Man, 2011’s TURNING POINT 2), the daughter of a skilled and controlling pianist (Michael Wong, 1998’s BEAST COPS), based on her looking exactly like his previous victim. Shortly after that, the pianist is found dead. Lam is assigned to the case and quickly discovers there is more to it than meets the eye.
And there is more, involving deep family secrets, parental neglect, rape, attempted suicide, and all sorts of other things you might come across in a soap opera. NIGHTFALL isn’t difficult to follow (as the expository flashbacks and numerous exchanges between main characters—who feel the need to spell out every last detail—don’t allow it), but it ends up being too complicated for its own good. Here is a movie that promised action in its pre-credits sequence and ended up delivering a convoluted family drama disguised as a revenge thriller.
The script, by Christine To Chi Long (the 2006 Jet Li vehicle FEARLESS), also misleads the audience in that it seems to constantly be saying, “Everything that we told you was true about these characters wasn’t. Now, this is what actually happened and this is who they actually are.” All of the intentional duping ends up making it too hard to trust the movie and so the viewer is left frustrated.
NIGHTFALL is directed by Chow Hin Yeung, who was nominated for the Best New Director honor at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards for his debut, MURDERER. He has a good eye and NIGHTFALL is a visually stable work, but all of the actors (whether in conversation or exchanging chops) look so dead in the eyes, as if they don’t want to be there or that they’re bored. The stand-out example is the brief brawl in an aerial tramway—what should be an exhilarating moment is made stiff and lifeless due to the actors’ lack of enthusiasm.
The strongest element of NIGHTFALL is the editing (by Cheung Ka Fai, who also cut IP MAN and IP MAN 2: LEGEND OF THE GRANDMASTER), which keeps the movie going at a fine pace.
NIGHTFALL BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. NIGHTFALL has a slick look to it (courtesy of cinematographer Ardy Lam) and this high-definition transfer remains faithful to it, capturing it in accurate colors and tones, as well as occasional vibrancy.
Audio: Cantonese 5.1 HD Surround Sound. Subtitles in English. Well Go USA has also done justice do the audio, providing a strong and complete transfer.
Making Of (47:43): This extensive piece offers a detailed look at the making of NIGHTFALL, with interviews, training footage, on-set clips, and more.