Nightfall (2012) – By Duane L. Martin

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but I’m going to paste the synopsis of Nightfall here from the Well Go USA website. This film is a thriller that really keeps you wondering until near the end of the film, and I’m afraid my long winded synopses that I usually write might accidentally give too much away or turn into a full on transcript of the film, which would totally ruin the suspense. So here, from the Well Go USA website:

Nightfall synopsis from the Well Go USA website:

He is a Hong Kong celebrity – a master pianist, adored, sought after by many.

He is dead.

Detective Lam (Simon Yam) is called in to find the murderer, and quickly identifies a killer from the past – a brutal man, just released from prison (Nick Cheung) with ties to the family. But the more Lam investigates, the truth becomes harder to find.

What unfolds is a crime from the past. 20 years of lies, and a secret so shocking it threatens to pull the entire case down. Who is the victim and who is the killer?

From the director of MURDERER and starring two of Hong Kong’s most exciting action stars comes a gritty, brutal story of love, hate and vengeance.

Now, on to the review…

Let me start this review with this one simple statement. I think this is very likely one of the best suspense thrillers I’ve ever seen.

Typically, I’m not big on suspense thrillers. When I go to watch a film for my own pleasure, it’s almost never a suspense thriller. I might reconsider that position however if I were to come across more films like Nightfall. There is literally no level on which I can criticize this film. Even if I were to nitpick, I wouldn’t have anything I could pick on on that would make much difference. This is simply about as close to a perfect thriller as you’re likely to find.

The story is brilliantly written, which I’ll get to in a moment, but I’d like to talk about some of the amazing performances first.

Wong Yuen-yeung (Called Eugene in the English subtitles), supposedly committed the rape and murder of his girlfriend, the daughter of a famous concert musician, and was sentenced to twenty years in prison. While he was in there, he got bullied at first, but then after attempting suicide by stabbing himself in the throat, which took away his ability to speak, he started training himself like a machine. His body became like banded steel and he gained an incredible fighting ability. The film starts out showing us the results of this training. He’s showering in the prison shower, and is attacked by several other inmates in what turns into one of the most utterly brutal fights I’ve seen in a very long time, and when I say brutal, I mean BRUTAL in all caps. He destroys his attackers utterly, even fighting through being stabbed in the stomach. It’s an amazingly well done scene which in reality doesn’t have a lot to do with the film itself, but it does show what his prison life has been like and to what level he’s been training himself there. As the film progresses and we find out more and more about both Eugene, and the events of the past, the motivations of his character become clear, which again, I can’t reveal here because I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice it to say, the character development progresses in line with how the story itself progresses. I wish I could say more, because for a mostly silent character, there’s a lot to say about him.

Simon Lam plays Detective George Lam. He’s a cop who spends many a night finding solace in a bottle, and a single father who despite his efforts to build bridges with his daughter, more often than not finds those bridges crumbling as his efforts are rebuffed by his daughter who has let her anger over her mother’s death get in the way of their relationship. Lam brings a sense of sorrow and determination to the character, and really makes you feel like he’s an honest cop trying to deal with his own personal issues. He’s also more interested in finding the truth than in letting old ghosts rest in peace, and once he’s on the trail of the truth, he’s tenacious.

Michael Wong plays Han Tsui, the father of Eva, the girl Eugene was sent to jail for raping and killing, and the current father of Zoe, who he and his wife tell the police they adopted. Now, every once in a while you come across a character in a film that you want to jump through the screen so you can strangle them to death, and this guy makes you want to do that in spades. He’s a rich and famous concert painist who utterly dominates his family. He’s got Zoe studying in a music conservatory and dominates every aspect of her life, preventing her from having any sort of a social life or anything outside of studying and practice. He’s also an angry, abusive drunk. Something I found strange about the character was that he shifted between English and Chinese dialogue like it was nothing. This was one of the incredibly minor things I would have nit picked on, as I didn’t see the use in him switching between English and Chinese other than to maybe make him seem more worldly.

As a suspense thriller, this film just works. The mysteries of the past as well as the mysteries of the present are held close to the vest and secrets are hinted at but not revealed until near the end of the film. That’s exactly what a thriller should be. What’s great about this one in particular is that the quality of the cast and characters really immerse you in the story and make you want to see it through to its conclusion. The people you should care about, you care about. Those you should hate, are simply vile, and those you’re supposed to wonder about, you really do wonder about until things are revealed. Sometimes it’s a combination of these things, but in the end, this is just a stunningly well crafted thriller with some great acting and a depth that most films, thriller or not, fail to capture. It’s really a film that just shouldn’t be missed. It’s that good, and I simply can’t recommend it enough. I wish I could have been more detailed in the review here, but I would just hate myself if I gave anything away and spoiled it. You just need to see it for yourself.

This release includes a making of featurette and the film’s trailer for special features.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out it’s page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.