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When a Hong Kong celebrity is found brutally murdered, his body floating in the middle of the ocean, hardheaded detective Lam is called in to take charge of the investigation. As Lam zeroes in on a killer from the past, the murder appears to be a straight forward case of revenge. But the more that Lam pursues his suspect, the deeper he falls into a web of lies. To find the truth, Lam must dig into a 20 year-old case for answers, the one link tying the suspect to the celebrity. But in doing so, Lam will uncover a dark secret so shocking, it will turn the investigation upside down. Who is the victim and who is the killer? Just as Lam believes he has everything figured out, he will discover that there’s a fine line between love and hate.
For more about Nightfall and the Nightfall Blu-ray release, see Nightfall Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Simon Yam, Nick Cheung, Mike Leeder, Michael Wong
Director: Roy Chow Hin-Yeung
» See full cast & crew
Nightfall Blu-ray Review
Forget it, Jake, it's Hong Kong.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 17, 2013
Nightfall is a film that starts out with a viscerally intense sequence that would seem to set the stage for a high octane action thriller, but which instead is a weirdly anachronistic prelude for what turns out to be a kind of (ironic) Hong Kong reimagining of certain aspects from Roman Polanski's Chinatown. For those of you who love the Polanski film and have never been able to quite erase Faye Dunaway's horrifying yet strangely comic "confession" toward the end of the film, this might seem like an unfair spoiler regarding one of Nightfall's major plot points, but the fact is Nightfall so relentlessly telegraphs its supposed secrets that any armchair sleuth worth their salt is going to see just about every twist and turn Nightfall has to offer coming from a mile (or maybe more) off. The film is still fitfully engaging, more from a visual standpoint than perhaps its too familiar plot machinations, but its attempt to weave together two simultaneously unfolding stories, one of a long imprisoned ex-con and another featuring a cop who thinks the ex-con might be responsible for a high profile murder and mutilation, trundles down a completely rote path that never does much of anything unexpected. There's a perhaps more maudlin aspect to Nightfall than the caustically cynical ambience that runs rampant in the Polanski film, an element that is brought to bear with regard both to the ex-con, who is more or less mute due to having attempted to commit suicide while incarcerated, and to the cop, who is reeling from the death of his wife, one which has been officially determined to be suicide, but which the cop is certain was a murder.
The opening sequence mentioned above is a knock down, drag out fight between several inmates in a prison, a gigantic melée that takes place in the prison's showers. The fight is brilliantly staged, with some great slow motion shots of water droplets being disbursed as the men go at each other with "shivs" as well as some pretty violent martial arts moves. Though it takes us a while to realize it, this is our introduction to Wong (played by Nick Cheung for the bulk of the film, but not in this particular sequence), a convict who has been sentenced to several decades of imprisonment for having murdered a beautiful young woman. The film segues forward to Wong's release from jail while also introducing us to policeman George Lam (Simon Yam), a cop who can't accept the fact that his wife has committed suicide and is out to prove she was murdered. His preoccupation with this turn of events has estranged him from his teenaged daughter (Cherry Ngan). These two men's lives intersect when a famous musician named Han Tsui (Michael Yong) is found murdered (and horribly mutilated) and the ensuing investigation uncovers the fact that he was the father of the young woman whom Wong was accused of having murdered years before.
Before the murder takes place, however, Wong has been assigned by his parole officer to a job tuning pianos at a music school. There he becomes entranced by a young girl named Zoe (Janice Man), whose lyrical playing of Chopin seems to transport the former criminal to a stress free world. We see Wong renting a forest hut where he has a view of Zoe's home, a situation which reveals she is the daughter of Han Tsui, a man who seems to have an obsessively violent relationship with the young girl. Wong sets up surveillance equipment and seems to be rather obsessively interested in the girl himself, leaving her cryptic notes buried in her scores and keeping a rather watchful on her. Ultimately when Zoe's father is found dead on a deserted beach, Inspector Lam starts interviewing the girl while trying to track down Wong, one of many logical inconsistencies in this film. If the parole officer had assigned Wong to the music school, why would Lam have to work very hard to find the ex-con? Furthermore, a whole chase sequence with Lam and his fellow cops chasing Wong is bizarrely cut short only to segue to a scene that has Lam interrogating Wong, with absolutely no reference to the chase whatsoever.
Anyone with half (or maybe as little as a third) of a brain is going to realize rather quickly that Wong's interest in Zoe is more than merely casual and that there is something else going on there that really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out. There are a number of red herrings thrown up to distract the audience, including several weird interviews with Zoe's mother after it is revealed that the parents never revealed to Zoe that her older sister had been viciously murdered when Zoe was still a baby. One of the major problems with Nightfall is that it has already revealed a disturbing element in Zoe's father's relationship with his daughter, and if the film actually doesn't duplicate Chinatown's incestuous plot points, it means that once the ultimate revelation of how Han Tsui actually died is anti-climactic, to say the least. The real family dynamic of Zoe and her dead sister also is completely predictable, as is the ultimate denouement concerning her relationship to Wong.
Nightfall still manages to be an engaging film, at least in dribs and drabs, courtesy of its sweeping visuals if for no other reason. Director Roy Chow makes really good use of the Hong Kong locales, in this case focused as much on unexpected rural locations as on the bustling cityscape that is much more typical for films of this ilk. One of the most arresting sequences is when we see a hooded figure beating the living (or perhaps more appropriately, dying) crap out of Han Tsui's body, a scene that takes place on a gorgeous cliffside above a raging ocean under the effulgent light of a full moon (see the fifth screenshot accompanying this review for a little sneak preview). Nightfall has an unexpectedly visceral visual element that helps to lift the film above some of its more (with or without Jake) forgettable aspects.
Nightfall Blu-ray, Video Quality
Nightfall is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This Red shot feature offers crisp and appealing fine object detail, though as is so often the case with contemporary films, Nightfall has been really aggressively color graded virtually nonstop through its running time, with some decisions that at least slightly deprive the image of that fine detail. The opening sequence is a case in point, with a deliberately yellow skewed palette that casts skin tones perilously toward jaundice territory. Even some of the relatively "normal" looking scenes have been rather strangely color timed, leaving skies with a sickly yellow tint. Other sequences are bathed in deep blue, a choice which is actually the most detrimental to both fine detail and shadow detail. Other than these niggling qualms, however, the image here boasts excellent contrast and stability.
Nightfall Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unlike the Hong Kong release of Nightfall on Blu-ray which included a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, Well Go USA's release features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (as well as a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 option). The 5.1 mix is extremely aggressive and often incredibly lush in its surround activity. The opening sequence for example is rife with fantastic foley effects swirling through the side and rear channels that include both the bone crunching noises of the fight as well as the strangely soothing sounds of the shower water hitting various surfaces. Some of the urban soundscapes are very effective, with nicely immersive placement of traffic and ambient environmental noise. But even the rural scenes offer excellent immersion, with the roaring sounds of surf of the gentle flutter of leaves in the breeze. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is quite wide.
Nightfall Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nightfall Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Nightfall is never dull despite its overly predictable plot, but it's too full of coincidences and logical gaps for its own good. Had the film been a bit more artfully structured it might have had a more visceral impact, one meeting the expectations set by the blistering opening scene. As it stands, Nightfall remains a passably entertaining quasi- mystery that is probably most alluring for its rather unique visual sensibility. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and audio, and with caveats noted, comes Recommended.
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Nightfall Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Nightfall - May 17, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Nightfall. This Hong Kong mystery thriller weaves a complex story dealing with a long ago murder which may have a connection to the killing of a major celebrity. Nightfall ...
• Nightfall Blu-ray - February 8, 2013
Texas-based distributors Well Go USA Entertainment will release on Blu-ray director Roy Chow's blockbuster Nightfall (2012), starring Simon Yam, Nick Cheung, Kay Tse, Janice Man, and Michael Wong. The release will be available for purchase on May 21.
Nightfall Blu-ray Screenshots
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