3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A flawed thriller with impeccable acting,
This review is from: Nightfall [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A man is sent to prison for raping and killing a woman that he had a reputation for stalking. 20 years later, that same man Eugene Wang (Nick Cheung) is released on parole and is a free man. Meanwhile, a renowned pianist named Han Tsui (Michael Wong) is preparing for his final string of concerts before retirement. Behind closed doors, Tsui is an abusive alcoholic that takes all of his frustrations out on his daughter Zoe (Janice Man). When the authorities pull Han Tsui's mangled corpse out of the river, Inspector Lam (Simon Yam) is put on the case. Lam has a reputation for reopening closed cases and is the only one who's connecting the case from 20 years ago to this one. Lam's detective work seems to only uncover more questions. What could the Tsui family be hiding and how is Eugene Wang connected to them?
Personally speaking, it's always been incredibly easy to compare the acting careers of Simon Yam and Liam Neeson. They're both mostly known for their supporting roles where they usually made a strong impact, but became relevant for the tragic end the characters they portrayed always seemed to find. The vengeful storyline of "Nightfall" seems to purposely echo "Oldboy" with its never ending tale of revenge, one of the main characters being imprisoned, and the large gap in time; "Nightfall" also makes it a point to make sure you see Eugene pick up a hammer without ever actually doing anything with it.
There are quite a few layers to dig through when it comes to the story and while it's easy to comprehend it also seems like the film goes out of its way to take every back road and scenic route just to get there. They highlight Lam's shortcomings early on; he passes out from drinking too much regularly because he's still mourning his wife that committed suicide. Lam also has a teenage daughter who's bringing home boys and griping at him for never having time away from work. Both issues seem to plague the Lam character rather fiercely, but are suddenly dropped halfway through the film. The screenplay isn't very memorable either. It gets the job done, but doesn't really seem to be trying to reel the viewer in. Michael Wong's performance makes you incredibly weary, as well. He jumps back and forth between Cantonese and English for seemingly no reason at all. Maybe it was done to enhance the drunken stupor his character was always in, but that seems to be a bit of a stretch.
The performances of Simon Yam and Nick Cheung along with the stunning cinematography are what make "Nightfall" so intriguing. It seems like a lot more could have been done with the Inspector Lam character being so flawed, but Simon Yam does the best he can to bring the character to life. His best moment comes in the closing moments of the film where Lam finally seems to breakdown and have a revelation of sorts. Nick Cheung is an absolute beast. "Nightfall" begins with one of the most stunning and brutal shower sequences in cinematic history and Eugene Wang is at the center of it. The Eugene Wang character is terrifying as he's always lurking about and you never seem to know what he's actually capable of. You can never quite get a clear read on his strange behavior, but his facial expressions are so absorbing. He's watching Zoe play the piano in a key scene and he has this look of pure ecstasy on his face that is both touching and haunting at the same time. Cheung has a way of making any particular scene unsettling, uncomfortable, and absolutely memorable all at the same time. The cinematography is at its best when Eugene first gets out of prison and you follow him walking around the city. The shot of him eating ice cream and sitting by the river with the city breathing down his neck in the background is incredible. Another favorite is a really quick scene as the camera is looking down a spiral staircase and you see Eugene stick his head out and look up at the camera. The cinematography is just very rich in "Nightfall" over all with enriched colors and superb lighting.
"Nightfall" is a bit of a mess, but it's an enjoyable mess. Maybe it gets a pass because it seems to blatantly mimic "Oldboy" and that's such a personal favorite. Its beautiful cinematography, engrossing performance of Simon Yam, and mesmerizing performance of Nick Cheung attempt to make you forget about whatever pitfalls the screenplay and storyline may have. With all of its imperfections, "Nightfall" is still a rather enticing crime thriller.