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Well Go USA
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/21/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/17/2013
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years (and seriously, wouldn't you be flat and dead by now), you know that Hollywood has been very influenced by movies from the Far East. We've seen man remakes of films from Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, mainly in the horror genre, and movies like The Matrix show that American filmmakers have fallen under the spell of the wirework action scenes from Asian films and the way in which these movies are edited. It's interesting to note that imitation can go in the other direction as well, and there are movies being made on the other side of the world which definitely take their cues from American movies. One such example is the mystery-thriller Nightfall.
Hong Kong Police Detective George Lam (Simon Yam) and his partner Ying (Kay Tse) are called upon to investigate a badly disfigured body which has been found on the beach. The corpse is identified as that of Han Tsui (Michael Wong), a popular and famous singer. Lam interviews Mrs. Tshi (On-on Yu) and her daughter, Zoe (Janice Man), but both claim that they know nothing about the death, despite the fact that we observed Han being abusive towards Zoe. Meanwhile, Eugene Wang (Nick Cheung) has just been released from prison. He's given a job at a music store, where he encounters Zoe playing the piano. He then takes up residence in a shack near the Tsui home and begins to spy on Zoe. Why is he obsessed with her? Lam knows that a piece of the puzzle is missing, but he can't put his finger on it until he comes across Wang's file. Lam then discovers a dark secret in the Tsui family's past and realizes that Zoe may be in grave danger.
Nightfall is an interesting film in that the Hong Kong locations certainly give it an Asian feel and there are some cultural specifics, but otherwise, this could have easily been a Hollywood film. Dispensing with any sort of genre trappings or supernatural elements, and containing none of the mafia (Triad) characters which inhabit so many Hong Kong movies, this plays as a straight-ahead police procedural/detective thriller. This easily resembles something which would play in the 10 o'clock hour on one of the pay cable channels.
If I were to read you a complete synopsis of Nightfall, it would most likely sound pretty interesting. The story has a few twists and turns throughout and then in the third act, the real shocker of a twist arrives which explains most everything which has happened thus far. This certainly brings the movie to life and gives Nightfall the kick which it needs. The problem is that Director Chow Hin Yeung Roy has given the film too leisurely of a pace and he doesn't do enough to ratchet up the tension. I'm not necessarily advocating non-stop action which sacrifices story, but there is rarely a sense of danger in Nightfall, as we are treated to a lot of dialogue scenes and moments where Lam is contemplating the case. A chase scene halfway through the movie is well-done, but this is the only real bright spot until the twist arrives.
Some issues with the script and acting don't help. The police characters are very two dimensional, and Lam is the stereotypical older cop nearing retirement who's more interested in older cases. A sub-plot concerning his wife's death is brought up in the first half and then never mentioned again. Wang is somewhat of a unique villain in that he's mute, but as played by Nick Cheung, he's never menacing. We see in the extra features included on the Blu-ray Disc that Cheung did a lot of physical training for the role, but Wang comes across as more of a stalker than a killer. While, as mentioned above, this is a detective story, the movie also tries to work in some melodrama (which is always popular in Asia) and these scenes also threaten the film's pace.
At its core, Nightfall is an interesting hybrid. Hong Kong movies are notoriously wacky, but this movie plays things very straight. However, it may have been too conservative, as the film drags at times. Still, it's watchable, and, as noted above, the twist really helps the movie to make it to the finish line. I can't help but wonder if we'll see an American remake of this which adds more pizzazz to the story.
Nightfall offers some cable cars which would paralyze those with a fear of heights on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Well Go USA. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth is especially good, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The English subtitles are easy to read. The surround sound, most notably during the finale, is very detailed and individual sounds are highlighted at times. The stereo effects are good as well, especially in the chase scene. The opening scene, which features a fight, provides obvious subwoofer effects.
The Nightfall Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. "Making of" (48 minutes) is a very detailed featurette (actually comprised of smaller segments edited together) which opens with a look at the primary cast and characters, spending a great deal of time on Nick Cheung's character. From there, we move into Cheung training for his role, which includes a lot of time in the gym. (This goes on for a long time.) There is then an intimate look at the shooting of the opening scene, as well as on-set footage of three four more scenes. The other extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.