In Mandarin with English subtitles
Director: Soi Cheang
Cast: Louis Koo, Richie Jen, Michelle Ye, Lam Suet, Fung Shui-Fan
RunTime: 1 hr 27 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Opening Day: 24 September 2009
self-styled “accident choreographer,” the Brain
is a professional hitman who kills his victims by trapping
them in well crafted “accidents” that look like
unfortunate mishaps but are in fact perfectly staged acts
of crime. Perennially plagued with guilt, he is also suspicious
and morbid by nature. The recent avalanche of memories of
his lost wife does not make things any easier.
one mission accidentally goes wrong, causing the life of one
of his men, the Brain is convinced that this accident has
been choreographed: someone is out there plotting to terminate
him and his team. He becomes increasingly paranoid, walking
on the thin line between reality and delusion.
he discovers that a mysterious insurance agent Fong is somewhat
related one of the “accidents” he has staged,
the Brain becomes obsessed that this man must be the mastermind
behind a conspiracy to take him out. To regain his sanity
and to save his life, he must strive to kill Fong before he
makes his next move.
Cheang’s latest thriller is really no "Accident"-
here is a tautly crafted and meticulously executed film that
emerges as one of the best Hong Kong movies of the year. Indeed,
thanks to the creative inspiration of producer Johnnie To’s
Milkyway team, "Accident" is a crowning accomplishment
for the director better known for some rather bizarre early
works ("Horror Hotline…Big Head Monster",
"Diamond Hill") and more recent over-the-top action
flicks ("Dog Eat Dog", "Shamo").
Like many of To’s Milkway efforts, "Accident"
boasts a high-concept premise- a group of professional assassins
led by The Brain (Louis Koo) who stage elaborate accidents
to disguise their crimes. In a brilliant opening sequence,
the team take out a triad boss through a string of seemingly
random, carefully choreographed events that to the police
can only be described as accidental death.
Their next job is the wheelchair-bound father of a bespectacled
man, their employer the old man’s very son, for reasons
unknown to the team. Each step of their planning process is
deliberately explained- from surveillance to brainstorming
to practice to execution, director Soi Cheang fastidiously
lays out each detail to emphasize the diligence they employ
with each job. This first half of the film is a tense, gripping
affair, as the Brain and his team (and the audience) are kept
waiting for that opportune moment to put into action their
But when it does happen, things go awry, and the Brain is
convinced someone is out to get him and his team. His suspicion
falls on one insurance agent (Ritchie Ren) whom he becomes
preoccupied with, following, observing and noting down his
perceived nemesis’ every move. Ever so effectively,
director Soi Cheang shifts the tension built up in the first
half of his film to a well-calibrated tone of obsession and
paranoia in the latter half.
Is Ritchie Jen’s insurance agent a brilliant mastermind
the likes of 'The Brain'? Or is it all a figment of The Brain’s
own imagination? The question "Accident" poses is
this- how can a person who has built his life on staging accidents
be convinced that not all the world is a stage? Yes, like
the "Final Destination" films, "Accident"
flirts with the intriguing conundrum of whether the seemingly
accidental, unfortunate events in our lives can in fact be
deliberate and choreographed.
But "Accident" brings its own take on that subject
in a very uniquely Johnnie To-ish way, right up to its love-it-or-hate-it
climax (which this reviewer must admit he loved) that is most
akin to that of previous Milkyway films "Running on Karma"
or "Eye in the Sky". Fans of To will probably already
spot similarities in their themes, but "Accident’s"
finale is surprisingly intimate, moving and ultimately thought-provoking.
The real star of the show here is really Louis Koo. Not only
does he appear in almost every scene of the film, his character
is also both the lynchpin of what happens and also the movie’s
emotional core. In "Accident", Louis Koo gives a
solidly restrained performance that is always engaging and
captivating to watch- first as the cool, calculated leader
of the pack and then as the disturbed individual all alone
with his doubts and fears.
There is really no "Accident" here how impressive
this well-assembled film has come together. A confident turn
by director Soi Cheang, a mesmerizing performance by lead
Louis Koo and of course, the assured guidance of producer
Johnnie To make this a pure-breed Milkyway classic. This is
the kind of film that made To’s Milkyway the brand name
it is today, and the kind of film that will give the flagging
Hong Kong film industry a much-needed shot in the arm.
(Vintage Milkyway par excellence, this meticulously crafted
and tautly executed film is also one of the best Hong Kong
films of the year)
Review by Gabriel Chong