Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A man is driving down a busy street when he is redirected from his destination by a woman with a flat tire. The man chastises this woman who insists on making a phone call instead of pulling off to the side but now the man has to alter his route. After a while it seems as if the cosmos are conspiring against this poor dude as all of these unfortunate events are keeping him from going where he needs to go, forcing him to get out of his car, remove some items blocking his destination until an accident occurs with some falling glass which tragically kills him. Thus we have the launching point for director Pou-Soi Cheang’s crime thriller ‘Accident’ for as it turns out this series of unfortunate events wasn’t random at all.

Louis Koo is the character of Brain, an assassin for hire who is the mastermind of these elaborate Mouse Trap style executions and with his team that consists of Fatty (Suet Lam), the Woman (Michelle Ye) and the mentally deteriorating Uncle (Shui-Fan Fung) our team has made a pretty good living doing this thing they do.

But while Brain’s meticulous mind is critical in pulling off these complex murders, the drawback to having a mind like his, at least in this flick, is that he tends to over think everything which usually leads to paranoia. For instance our squad gets a murder gig and plan it out for weeks and after numerous roadblocks eventually the job is a success. Unfortunately during this job something goes wrong and one of our team members is killed in an accident. Or is it an accident? When one’s order of business is creating accidents and one suffers from an accident, now this person is forced to question whether or not it was an accident at all. Adding to Brain’s heightened sense of paranoia is the fact that his beloved wife died in a fiery car crash some time ago, an trap he believes might’ve been meant for him. Or perhaps it was just car accident.

While it is crystal clear that Brain is a paranoid control freak, a list of events occur which do seem rather odd and give some weight to his fears. For instance the man whom they did this job for is meeting with this mysterious character (Richie Ren) who does seem to be up to something even though Brain has no idea what this something is. Combine this with the accident, the fact that somebody has broken into his apartment and stolen his stash and his perceived odd behavior of his surviving team members, Brain is all but convinced that somebody is out to get him. He even moves into the apartment of this mysterious man, wires his crib for sound and surveys his every movement and conversations so that he can find out who he is and why he’s trying to kill him. Or is he?

This is a completely different kind of movie from director Cheang I’m accustomed to viewing, especially considering his last two movies were the hyper-violent young man gone wild character studies ‘Dog Bites Dog’ and ‘Shamo’. Let me retract that slightly because under further review this movie is similar to those movies in that it does examine how external influences have created a societal outcast who reacts to these external influences by doing way more harm than good. The presentation of this particular societal outcast is just entirely different from the societal outcasts in those other two movies. Louis Koo gives us the character of Brain as emotionally stunted, a person who gets by on the bare minimum of human interaction, just enough to accomplish the tasks that he needs done. In fact the only time we observe the character of Brain show any empathy is when the character of Uncle is beset with what has to be quickest onset of Alzheimer’s ever. Now in his debilitated mental state Brain finds that it is easier to deal with that character on a level that he is more comfortable with.

The movie itself is a fine film, one that Cheang paces rather casually, which brings a lot tension to the surface. The way the murders are laid out is intricate and interesting to watch, if not somewhat unbelievable, and the performances provided by the cast are very good. While the first half of the movie is more than presentable, the film really finds its groove when the psychological drama that is the second half of the film kicks in, mainly because we as the audience aren’t quite sure if Brain is simply paranoid or perhaps this mysterious man is out to do him genuine harm, and the way the story is presented to us, it rarely tips its hand one way or the other in which direction it is heading in regards to this. By the time we get to the final play, the big reveal, it is handled very smoothly and very succinctly and is in completely in line with the ebb and flow of the film.

‘Accident’ is a very well done film that effectively combines the elements of a thriller and the elements of a psychological drama to create a very unique and compelling film experience.

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