Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ACCIDENT - Taut but Flawed Thriller

ACCIDENT (Crime thriller in Cantonese)
Cast: Louis Koo, Richie Jen, Michelle Ye, Lam Suet and Fung Shui-Fan
Director: Cheang Pou-Soi
Time: 89 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Louis Koo and Richie Jen in ACCIDENT

PREAMBLE: Fresh from the Toronto International Film Festival 2009, this Johnny To-produced movie has all the marks of an art-house flick. It has no gunplay, no kungfu duels and not much in terms of fast-paced action. It is, however, thick with tension, intrigue and paranoia.

All these will probably work out to a short theatrical run, attended by art film lovers and Johnny To fans.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Accident offers up a 'new' kind of assasins for hire. Led by The Brain (Louis Koo), the four-member hit team choreographs intricate accidents on their targets. Since the deaths will invariably be classified by police as a freak accident ("death by misadventure"), they are off the authorities' radar. Indeed, the Brain is meticulous in his planning and his nameless partners, Uncle (Fung Shui-Fan), Fatty (Lam Suet) and Woman (Michelle Ye, pictured right with Koo) are experts in their own fields.

However, when one of the 'accidents' goes terribly wrong, Brain suspects that someone is trying to kill him - and he sets his sights on Fong (Richie Jen), an insurance agent who happens to be on the accident scene.

HITS & MISSES: Directed by Cheang Pou-Soi, Accident is a highly absorbing and engrossing crime thriller, especially in the first half. Here, we are fascinated by how the 'accidents' are planned and carried out, by the eccentricities of the individual members and, especially, the paranoia of Koo's character. With each sequence, Cheang manages to draw us deeper and deeper into his web of meticulous intrigue that seems to leave nothing to chance.

Things start to fall apart in the second half when Cheang transforms the movie into a psychological thriller - with the perpetrator believing that he has become the target. His fear and quest for revenge make him careless (scribbling plans on the ceiling) and callous, suspicious of even his own members. The movie's credibility starts to strain and what could have been a masterpiece is flawed.

THE LOWDOWN: Looks like another Asian movie that Hollywood can recycle and remake!


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