When the credits began to role after Accident concluded I will admit I didn’t know how to feel. I was pretty sure I had just watched a pretty great Hong Kong thriller, but wasn’t sure how much I actually liked it. After taking some time to absorb what I had watched I realized that I did in fact like it quite a bit, my initial reaction was caused by the film itself, which had just managed to take me on a mental journey that I wasn’t expecting. And it did so by taking me on this journey through a very specific perspective of the events that occurred. Accident is not a very long film, in clocks in just under 90 minutes, but what it manages to do in that short amount of time is much more then may two hour of more thrillers ever did.
Louis Koo and Richie Ren star, and Pou-Soi Cheang (most notably of Dog Bite Dog fame) directs Accident, which opens with what appears to be an average rush hour nightmare in Hong Kong when a damsel in distress gets a flat tire and manages to block traffic. This seemly ordinary incident will soon very carefully lead to a series of accidents that will leave someone dead on a sidewalk. This is the masterwork of ‘the Brain” played by Koo, who works with a select group of close associates; ‘Fatty’ played by Suet lam (oh did I mention Johnnie To produced the film?), ‘Woman’ played by Michelle Ye, and ‘Uncle’ played by the absolutely great Shui-fan Fung. Together they are essentially a squad of assassins, but they work in a very specifically way. They are paid to kill their target by planning out an accidental death scenario that will leave their target checked off, but look like such an accident as to not need any further Police investigation. To do so they must be absolutely perfect in their execution, this may very well lead to weeks of delays until the timing is precise and to perfection.
After the opening job, one of the crew makes what appears to be a minor slip up, but when viewed through the eyes of The Brain is in fact a major compromise and he believes any kind of mistake like that could bring down their entire operation. He also suspects there are other operations like theirs that are always watching, and could strike at any moment. It isn’t long until all his fears are realized when a tragic turn of events during an operation leads The Brain to believe that someone has targeted him. He is suddenly driven into a mad state of paranoia and may end up taking everyone else with him.
Accident is a very intelligent thriller that is shown very carefully through the same perspective as the Brains character. It pulls and twists us in the same way, and allows the viewer to question and suspect the same things he is. This is where the film really shows its strength, and gives the viewer a pretty memorable experience. If told from an outside perspective it would not have had remotely the same impact. It’s a solid film, filled with superb acting from the entire cast. Louis Koo is always a great lead, and can really carry a film on his shoulders.
As I stated before this is a pretty short film, and though it manages to do a lot with its time, I do feel time is also its greatest weakness. I really think it needed to establish The Brains crew more in the beginning of the film. Before the major events start to snap into motion there was not enough time given to show and express their craft, or allow us to really get any kind of attachment to their intricate workings. This I feel would have helped strengthen the later events even further.
Accident is well worth a watch, it may not really leave much desire for a re watch any time soon after, but it’s definitely a film that will always be most memorable on its first viewing. Though going back and watching a second time might not be a bad idea, as I am sure there will be plenty of specific details that could be picked up, or perhaps that perspective may shift and the events as a whole could be seen from an entirely different angle. That is always a sign of a well crafted film.