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You know how it is when you cry wolf too much, or are one of those pranksters who ultimately falls for a trick just because of you didn't believe it can happen to you. Accident plays along similar lines, and director Soi Cheang's latest film is an excellent atmospheric piece that adds to Milkyway's repertoire of tautly crafted contemporary crime thrillers.
Accident introduces a bunch of hit men who bump their marks off very differently. They are not hardened criminals who are on the radar of the cops, but operate in such stealthy fashion, from obtaining their contracts, right down to execution (pardon the pun) and retrieval of payment dues. The movie boasts two of such finely designed set action pieces sans guns ablazing, but full of meticulously planned cunning (in what is staple in heist films) carried out to a T, where death gets delivered to victims and made to look like freak acts of god, which of course takes a wee bit of stretching of the imagination since some bits do rely on coincidences to ensure a perfect degree of success.
The trouble amongst this group lies with the leader Brain (Louis Koo), whose crew consisting of Uncle (a welcome to see Feng Tsui-Fan back to the big screen), Fatty (a role that Milkyway evergreen regular Lam Suet owns), and a beautiful but unnamed woman (Michelle Ye), feel a little stifled given Brain's suspicious and paranoia nature. In what Brain preaches as Trust amongst his crew, it is actually trust that he personally doesn't embody, with frequent taps on his gang to ensure that they toe the line. The reason why Brain would choose a life as such was suggested in the prologue, which adds some emotional weight to the deliberate deadpan of the character, one conscientiously living off the grid, with no bank account, and no Octopus card too for public transport, preferring to use cash and not leave a paper trail.
It's the second half of the film that intrigued a lot more, as we're drawn into Brain's suspicious world from the time the second action sequence didn't go as planned, and went horribly awry. Refusing to believe in chance encounters since there are others in the business, and that their earlier victim had been a triad boss, we're thrusts into a web of possibilities to the chain of events that follow, which involves an insurance worker played by Richie Jen in what would be nothing more than a glorified cameo. You'll start to question whether Brain's set up from the inside (ala Brian De Palma's Mission Impossible), or is outwitted by Jen's character, or just drowning into his own delusions where his paranoia finally caught up with him.
And this became translated into the Louis Koo show. Of late he has been starring in a number of noteworthy roles, but his character here really took the cake. A friend of mine had commented that Lau Ching Wan would find the Brain character right up his alley, but I thought Koo did well enough in this role that involved minimal dialogue, of a quiet man on a warpath utilizing his trade to find some meaning in debunking that thing called Chance. I suppose you can also call it an occupational hazard of sorts.
The mood of the film will really get to you, with rain soaked sequences, moments of aloofness and loneliness (kinda like an art film at times too) and unflinching scenes of violence, with credit also going to the soundtrack by Xavier Jamaux, who has also been involved with and contributed to Milkyway productions such as Sparrow and Mad Detective. If you're a fan of the soundtrack from those movies, then you're in for a treat when you watch Accident.
Running less than 90 minutes, the finale, or the "Eureka" or moment of realization, is a scene that I'll remember for a long time to come. While it might have been similar to the Deux Ex Machina styled as employed in another Milkyway production in Eye in the Sky, I thought that it played into the themes of Chance, Fate and Karma all rolled into one perfectly shot and designed sequence, that had me at the edge of my seat and wondering how it would all finally play out. And when the answer is so starkly simple, you're left to ponder that you too have already become what Brain symbolized you have thought too much, and share in the same level of reluctance to believe in anything other than the situation having to be something overly engineered.
I would recommend that you give Accident a go in the cinemas, but of course if you're willing to put up with it being dubbed in Mandarin, and censored sex scenes being treated in the same manner as Overheard.
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