June 10, 2012

Filthy Review - Accident

Accident (2009)

Review by Jude Felton

Soi Cheang’s 2006 movie Dog Bite Dog was a brutal and downbeat affair. It also happened to be a quite stunning movie and showed his talent behind the camera. Now, some 3 years or so after its original release, Shout! Factory has brought his 2009 movie Accident to the States. With it they bring a quite exceptional thriller that hinges on the lead performance of Louis Koo.

Koo plays Brain, the leader of a group of four who arrange murders to look like everyday accidents. Ok, I will grant you that they are quite elaborate at times, but they are indeed accidents, and the film starts off with one such accident. My initial thoughts were that they reminded me slightly of some of the death scenes in the Final Destination movies, albeit on a far more subtle yet equally effective manner.

Brain goes about his work setting up these accidents, the whole time racked with guilt and grieving the loss of his wife years before. He is a man of no emotion, meticulous in his work and cold in his execution, he is quite simply the master of what he does. All is going well, until one such accident results in one of his crew dying and Brain himself almost losing his life.
This gets Brain to thinking that maybe someone is out to get him, after all there is a lot of money to be made in this business and the risk isn’t so high as the police aren’t even aware that any crimes are being committed. So, Brain’s paranoia increases as his team slowly falls apart. Is someone after him? Or are these accidents just that; accidents.

Soi Cheang has created a truly engrossing and cleverly plotted thriller here. It’s a thriller that isn’t reliant on crazy action scenes. Sure, there are some elaborately staged accidents, and some do plus the limits of plausibility, but the effects are quite impressive, and often quite brutal. There are a couple of bloody scenes, although the movie does not rely on these. Instead it is the sudden impact, the effect and aftermath that the film focuses on. That and Koo’s incredible performance, which is just as much about how he acts as to what he says.

As I mentioned, one or two of the accidents seemed a little too reliant on luck to make them totally plausible, and the onset of Alzheimer’s in one of the characters comes on a little too quickly for my liking. Aside from these flaws there is very little to fault in this film. It is well crafted, and twists and turns, and keeps you guessing as to the outcome. The premise is clever, and not to mention a little scary, and at 87 minutes has no excess baggage to bog it down.

Crime thrillers can so often become predictable in that they like to follow a formula, however clever they think they are being. Accident is one of those thrillers that is that clever, and it follows no formula at all. This alone should be enough to warrant your attention. The fact that it is so well crafted demands that you give it your full attention.

Personally I have seen better looking Blu-rays in recent months; this one does seem to suffer from a distinct lack of crispness to its visuals. But if you can get past that you will find yourself a quite excellent slice of Hong Kong cinema. Scratch that, you will find yourself an excellent film full stop.

Accident is released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 12th by Shout! Factory.

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