Friday, September 23, 2011
AKA Bat Ye Tin
Directed by Ngai Kai Lam
Starring Alex Man, Siu-hou Chin, Pat Ha, Yin Tse, Hseih Wang, Ki Yan Lam, Alex To
Mr. Yin (played by Alex Man) is taking over all the nightclubs in town and oh yes, he is doing it hostilely! Yin wants revenge on Mr. Law (Yin Tse) for beating him at mahjong gambling. It's because of the shame of this defeat that forced Yin and his brother Hoi (Alex To) to live in exile in Japan for many years. Yin kills Law but makes it appear as though it was a suicide. Law's son Fung becomes obsessed with getting revenge on his father's murderer.
Fung does have some time for matters of the heart as the woman he has been chasing for many weeks is none other than nightclub singer Miss Rachel (played by Pat Ha), who just happens to be Mr. Yin's main squeeze. After Fung is severely beaten by Yin's bodyguards, Rachel takes care of the guy and even falls for him which, of course, gets her killed. Fung then flees the country and gets into the boxing circuit, fighting dudes and sometimes kangaroos. When he returns, he heads straight for Mr. Yin's Endless Night nightclub to settle the score once and for all.
If you are familiar with the films of Ngai Kai Lam (AKA Nam Lai Choi) such as Story of Ricky, The Cat, or Seventh Curse then the fact that he directed a gambling gangster drama action kung fu period piece shouldn't surprise you. In fact, I am so used to this director's ability to raise my eyebrows and drop my jaw that my face is in a permanent state of surprise all day, every day. Killer's Nocturne is both melodramatic and intensely violent. It has some comic elements, romance elements, and even some fantastical elements all mixed together in one magical concoction. Many of Hong Kong's best directors blend multiple styles in one film but few are as satisfyingly cathartic, mind-blowingly kinetic, or emotionally confusing as Lam's.
My favorite character in Killer's Nocturne is Fung. Siu-hou Chin (of Mr. Vampire) plays a very likable and righteous duder who becomes so driven by his quest for vengeance that nothing in the world matters to him more than destroying Mr. Yin. I love how, while on the boxing circuit, he finds out that losing a fight earns him more money than winning. So he becomes a human punching bag to make mad cash and unintentionally trains his body to take all kinds of abuse. In fact, Fung becomes so tough that when he finally comes back to Endless Night, Yin's goons have a VERY DIFFICULT TIME trying to kick his ass. Trust me, you will be amazed by the finale of this one.
I strongly encourage adventurous viewers to seek out the films of Ngai Kai Lam. I have enjoyed every single flick of his that I have seen with the exception of Saga of the Phoenix, which is a little too kid friendly in an obnoxious and disturbing way. All of his flicks are entertaining and so damn weird. Killer's Nocturne has an especially depressing storyline but the action scenes are brilliantly staged and the characters are sympathetic. So in the end, you'll be left with a feeling of abstract ennui. Sounds good, right? An understanding of the rules of mahjong will help you out here as there are a couple of mahjong games that are part of the plot. If you, like me, don't know jack about the game, don't worry, the music queues and the actors' reactions to the outcome help immensely.
See, I wasn't kidding!