Lam is like the Kurt Wallander of the Hong Kong police force. At least, this inspector has good reason for
being moody. Still grieving his wife’s unexplained
suicide, Lam will tackle a deeply disturbing case in Roy Chow Hin Yeung’s Nightfall (trailer here), which screens on
the opening night of the San Francisco Film Society’s eagerly anticipated
second annual Hong Kong Cinema Festival.
Wang has just been released from prison.
Convicted for the murder of a famous opera singer’s teenage daughter, he
had to drastically harden himself to survive his sentence. When said opera singer, Han Tsui, is
discovered brutally beaten to death, suspicion naturally falls on Wang. It is pretty clear though Tsui’s death is no
great tragedy for his younger daughter, Zoe, who has grown to become the
spitting image of Eva, the older sister she never knew she had.
course, Lam is the best and worst detective for a case like this. A habitual scab-picker, he cannot help
delving into the darker corners of the human psyche. If you consider passing out dead drunk in the
middle of the afternoon hard-boiled, than he is amongst the hardest
boiled. He is not much of a father
though, nor is he a good candidate for romance.
Yet, his younger cuter partner Ying Au-yeung still has eyes for him, probably
because he is played by Simon Yam.
Nighfall is a contest between Yam and
Nick Cheung to see who can be more intensely wound up. Cheung’s Wang probably wins that one, but Yam
also brings an appealingly rumpled charisma to the party. As a mystery, Christine To Chi-long’s script
telegraphs every revelation well in advance, but it is a dynamic showcase for
the antagonists, eventually going Mano-a-mano on a sky-gondola to Lantau.
versus Cheung is definitely the main event here, but there are some fine
contributions from the big name supporting cast. Cantopop superstar Kay Tse is an energetic
and realistically grounded presence as Ying, whereas the Shaw Brothers veteran Gordon
Liu adds even more grizzle as an old corrupt copper. Janice Man looks exquisitely ethereal as Zoe
and Eva, but she never has much to express besides vulnerability. However, Michael
Wong’s turn as the late Tsui is in a category by itself, beyond over-the-top.
Ardy Lam has a knack for shooting scenes at great heights while maintaining the
noir vibe. Frankly, the film might
actually peak with the first scene—an adrenaline charged throwdown in a prison
shower room, but Yam is always compulsively watchable and especially so
here. In fact, one can easily see his
George Lam becoming a franchise character.
Very satisfying for fans of HK movies, Nightfall screens this Friday (9/21) at the New Peoples Cinema in
San Francisco as part of the opening night of their 2012 Hong Kong Cinema
Also screening Friday night is Pang Ho-cheung’s Love in the Buff, a well written look at
the pitfalls of romance with a highly attractive cast and an appealingly
swinging soundtrack. Recommended for
movie-goers looking for something smart but not too heavy, it also screens
Sunday (9/23). See the full review here.
Labels: HK at SFFS '12, Hong Kong Cinema, Kay Tse, Murder mysteries, Nick Cheung, Simon Yam