But 2012 may prove to be a banner year for him, based upon the smash-hit ensemble The Thieves and now the crime thriller Nightfall. In the latter, he portrays police inspector George Lam, who hasn’t quite been the same since his wife committed suicide five years ago, so his work — however gruesome — provides a welcome distraction.
Enter Eugene Wang (Nick Cheung, The Stool Pigeon), paroled after 20 years in prison. The mute man immediately reverts to his criminal ways, stalking the teen daughter (Janice Man) of a famed opera tenor (Michael Wong, Seven Swords). Not to spoil details of even events occurring in the first act, but it’s not long before someone is found fatally burned to disfigurement and dumped at the beach.
Director/co-writer Chow Hin Yeung Roy has woven several surprises into Nightfall‘s narrative, including a twist worthy of Chinatown, for his inspector protagonist to uncover. The role of the wizened workaholic suits Lam well; he has just as firm a grasp on playing the traditional thriller aspects as he does the more dramatic moments off the clock. Without venturing into the over-the-top territory where so many movie serial killers reside, Cheung inhabits his antagonist with a terrifying intensity; even the way he eats an ice cream cone conveys pure evil. The two opponents memorably come face-to-face in a confrontation in a moving cable car.
Uncredited, although definitely a supporting star, is the architecture of Hong Kong. Roy has a knack for making the cityscapes of night come alive. —Rod Lott