Theater Thoughts

nightfall

 

Reviewer: John Carpenter

Released by: Well Go USA
Blu-Ray Release date: 5/21/2013
Region A
107 Mins/Not Rated
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16×9: Yes

This movie starts out STRONG!  A violent prison fight seems to set the stage for an intense action laced thriller.  While the scene is certainly justified within the overall story, it comes across as out of place while alongside the rest of the movie.  The details and beauty of the scene carry over, but “Nightfall” never gets this tense again.  Instead Chow Hin Yeung’s sophomore feature goes on a fairly predictable and heavy handed journey with stubborn cop George Lam (Simon Ham) playing cat and mouse games with recently released convict Wong Yuen-yeung (Nick Cheung).  Their paths cross briefly on the street, but it isn’t until the murder of famed musician Han Tsui (Michael Yong) that Lam starts to focus his attention on the mute Wong.  It turns out that Wong was convicted of murdering Tsui’s older daughter and now seems to be obsessed with his younger daughter Zoe (Janice Man).  Lam and his team of cops are certain that Wong will strike again, but his motives may not be as simple as they suspect.

“Nightfall” has some beautiful shots in it.  The prison fight is as artistic as it is brutal and some of the shots are setup very well.  They aren’t quite as refined as a Chan-wook Park in terms of splendor and balance, but the potential is there.  The problems with “Nightfall” are in the details.  Chow Hin Yeung and Chi-long To try and get crafty with their screenplay by throwing some twists and turns into the plot.  The smoke and mirrors act isn’t as clever as these writers believe because the story is filled with plot holes.  The horrible police work is where these issues begin.  Why can’t the police find a parolee who has been assigned a specific place to work?  How come they visit Zoe to tell her she is in danger, show her a photo of her sister and then not show her a photo of their prime suspect? (By the way, she knew nothing about having a sister so they dropped that bomb as well.)  How can a house be on full surveillance and the person whom EVERY cop is looking for walk on and off the property without any issue at all?  It doesn’t make sense.  Then factor in the forced twists and turns.  Plenty of films misdirect the audience by setting up a basic predictable storyline only to swipe the rug out and add to the shock effect.  The key is for the director to hold the cards close and reveal only when ready.  This doesn’t happen with “Nightfall.”  It tries to be smarter than it is by taking a warped “Oldboy-esque” idea and giving away far too many details before trying to surprise viewers.  It would be like Bruce Willis reading a headstone with his name on it half way through “The Sixth Sense.”  Assuming the audience is ignorant will only hurt a feature and it proves to be the downfall of “Nightfall.”

“Nightfall” is presented with a fine-looking 1080p, AVC encoded 2.35:1 transfer.  Well Go USA takes their time with a variety of lesser known Asian movies and this release is no exception.  It is filled with detail and some great slow motion shots.  Close ups will reveal the detail in Lam’s days old stubble as well as scars from Wong’s time in prison.  Wider shots are set well and embrace the world around these characters.  There are some artistic decisions in regards to lighting and color which throw off natural fleshtones, but the overall look of “Nightfall” is strong.  The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio Cantonese 5.1 track is aggressive and well balanced.  Dialogue levels are strong up front and are never drowned out by the score or sound effects.  The rear speakers are used sparingly, but at opportune times to add ambiance and effect for specific scenes.  It’s as if each speaker knows its role and is committed to working as a team during “Nightfall.”  Well Go USA has done a stellar job with the technical aspects of this feature.

Along with a ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (0:56), Well Go USA has added a ‘Making of’ (47:42) to this Blu-ray release.  As most would expect, this featurette combines movie footage, interviews and behind the scenes shots for a solid look at the production of “Nightfall.”  Seeing a cleaned up, talkative Nick Cheung is pretty fun after his dark turn in the feature.  Cheung’s journey to become a hardened criminal is an interesting and dedicated commitment on his part.  Most of the primary cast and crew get an opportunity to discuss their thoughts on “Nightfall.”  Some comments are insightful and others are humorous, but there is no doubt everyone really believes in the project.

There are moments of artistic excellence, but after close to two hours with “Nightfall” a couple of details are painfully obvious.  It never reaches the highs of the opening scene and the story comes across like the dunce in the class trying to have an epiphany.  “Nightfall” is an entertaining watch, but will surely frustrate viewers who can see through Chow Hin Yeung’s attempts to hide where the story is headed.  Well Go USA did everything right with the Blu-ray release though.  It looks and sounds marvelous.  There is also a lengthy ‘Making of’ feature added to the disc.  Keep the expectations low headed into “Nightfall” and perhaps it will earn an extra star or two on the old ‘rate this movie’ meter.

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