A solid try/stab at a crime thriller. Unfortunately this isn’t as good as you might hope for. It aims high but can’t quite deliver on that promise. Apart from story flaws (and/or the predictability of its twists and turns) even some of the well known actors are a bit of a letdown. The movie 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 Tsuis’ country mansion and uses bugging devices to eavesdrop every conversation as well as telescope to monitor every movements. He discovers that Han is an abusive father who is particularly dislikes Zoe to befriend with any guys at all because he thinks all men out there are monsters.
There’s however too little realism in the movie, in particular Wang’s amazing ability at evading an entire team of police officers several times and his just as outstanding powers of infiltrating what is supposed to be a heavily guarded residence after Han’s death. Most perplexing is why Lam would confront Wang on an Ngong Ping cable car no less, other than for the fact that it must have seemed exciting to watch. Every step of the way, Chow’s ham-fisted direction is all too apparent, trying too hard to emphasise the tragedy within the story and in the process draining too much momentum from what is really a standard police procedural. Its mediocrity would have been fine if it didn’t have both Simon Yam and Nick Cheung as its lead cast, both actors worthy of much less pedestrian material than what ‘Nightfall’ has to offer. Certainly, it is a definite step-up from the appallingly bad ‘Murderer’, but don’t go in expecting the same kind of compelling thriller as ‘Beast Stalker‘ or ‘The Stool Pigeon‘.
Another glaring problem here is Chow’s lackluster 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 going-on. The good news is, the ending has none of the shockingly out-of-nowhere twist 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. Only in the 108 minutes we presented the changes of human character, moral values, compassion, sacrifice, dedication, emotion. Too bad, it’s just too little, too late.