Review: NIGHTFALL 大追捕 (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: NIGHTFALL 大追捕 (2012)

Review: NIGHTFALL 大追捕 (2012)

NIGHTFALL opens intensely with a vicious prison fight involving Eugene Wong (Nick Cheung) being assaulted by a number of other inmates in the shower room but he manages to retaliate by killing them all with his bare hands and a metal drain cover. Then, we later learn he is released after serving 20 years in prison. The first thing he does is spying on Zoe Tsui (Janice Man), a piano student whose father, Han (Michael Wong), is a celebrity opera singer. So he ends up renting a shack directly across from Tsui's' country mansion and uses bugging devices to eavesdrop every conversation as well as a telescope to monitor every movement. He discovers that Han is an abusive father who particularly dislikes Zoe to befriend with any guys at all because he thinks all men out there are monsters. Enter Inspector George Lam (Simon Yam), a burned-out cop who has a murky past involving his suicidal wife. He is called upon an investigation when Han is found murdered in a gruesome manner. With the way Han is killed, he immediately suspects Eugene as the main culprit. However, the case turns out to be more complicated than it seems as Lam digs further into the Tsui family history and discovers there's something fishy going on behind all the murder.

REVIEW: Two years ago, Roy Chow's highly-anticipated directorial debut in MURDERER (2009) was a serious train-wreck of a movie which featured a terribly absurd plot and especially a ridiculously over-the-top performance by Aaron Kwok. And now he's back with another psychological thriller. At the first glance, his new movie entitled NIGHTFALL is simply hard not to miss. After all, it features two of among most top-notch Hong Kong actors working today -- Nick Cheung and Simon Yam. Coupled with an intense trailer and the infamous "wanted by police" poster which has attracted mass popularity among the public, there's no doubt that the marketing campaign so far has done a truly effective job to lure the viewers into seeing the movie. Unfortunately, the movie itself is a polar opposite. Instead of what could have been a strong thriller turns out to be a complete cop-out. I'm sad to say that like MURDERER, NIGHTFALL is yet another cinematic embarrassment that totally wasted the talents of Nick Cheung and Simon Yam.

Clocking at 107 min, NIGHTFALL is certainly a butt-numbing experience that feels like forever. On paper, Christine To's script sounds like a potential winner but the execution itself is such a bloated mess. Again, she and Roy Chow can't resist the temptation of toying the viewers with a number of misdirections and twists for the sake to spice things up. Unfortunately, a lot of things doesn't make a lick of sense because they just lay out the surface but they don't even bother to elaborate them further. Coupled with an awfully slow pace, this movie is simply an uninvolving thriller that doesn't recover at all as the story progresses further.

For example: When Wang is first released from prison, we see him wandering around the streets of Hong Kong, eating ice cream while ogling young women. Then he begins stalking on Zoe, which strongly suggests him as a pervert. But what comes later is entirely different story altogether. Let's just say Wang isn't exactly a perverted or psychotic type -- but actually a victim of circumstances who simply doing this because he wants to prove something to the cops. And seriously, his sudden change of character from what we see earlier and the subsequent scene is simply preposterous. Then there's Simon Yam's character as George Lam. Earlier, we learn he still can't get over his wife's suicidal death and convinced that she's actually being murdered by someone. Unfortunately, that subplot isn't explored further and not even mention again as the movie moves on. I could go on and on with plenty more flaws surrounding this awful movie, but you just have to watch it yourself to see what I mean here.

As for the cast, I really admired how Nick Cheung has worked very hard to pull off a convincing act as a convict with a mental problem. But despite his impressive toned-up muscles and method acting (in which he performs entirely with body language because his character depicts as a mute person), it's too bad that his role is underwritten to make him worthwhile. Same goes to Simon Yam, in which he is wasted here as well. The rest of the supporting actors are equally disappointing as well, with Michael Wong overacts as an abusive father and Janice Man sleepwalks through her dual role as Zoe and Eva.

Another glaring problem here is Chow's lacklustre direction to keep things as suspenseful as possible. Often in times, he simply stops cold with lots of talky expositions rather than presenting them in an engaging visual manner. If anything, only the minor scene involving the exciting mano-a-mano fight between Wang and Lam in the Ngong Ping cable car (even that alone served more as an excuse for no reason whatsoever).

But none of the problems come worst than the climactic third-act. From here onward, both Roy Chow and Christine To has gone overboard by laying out all the expository revelation of the actual goings-on. The good news is, the ending has none of the shockingly out-of-nowhere twists like MURDERER but even so, the twist here is so heavily convoluted that you will be scratching your head in disbelief once you piece out every puzzle altogether.

NIGHTFALL is a huge disappointment and particularly a wasted opportunity to utilise Nick Cheung and Simon Yam in a satisfying manner. One of the most disappointing Hong Kong movies of the year.

Roy Chow's latest psychological thriller is yet another wasted opportunity that botches everything from the heavy-handed plot to underwritten performances.

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