A convenient climax mars things somewhat, but on the whole this is a precise and compelling effort. Especially after the garbage performance seen in Shamo, Accident ends up being a film of halves, with the first half being a rather brilliant maneuvering of audience empathy. Accident introduces a bunch of hit men who bump their marks off very differently. A troubled assassin, who works by orchestrating “accidents”, suspects that an accident that happens to his team is not an accident at all. How many more time can I use the word ‘accident’? Well luckily you won’t have to succumb to a long drawn out film (or review), because running less than 90 minutes, you’re somehow on his side as you watch him descend into his obsession.
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. It becomes a fascinating character study of a man who gradually destroys himself through paranoia and guilt. As such, the film largely depends on Louis Koo’s performance – and what a performance it is; with this film, Koo finally deserves to be elevated from the hotpot of mediocre HK-popstars-cum-actors people used to include him in. It may not be a straight horror film, but it posits some scarily existential things about how the world will eventually have its way with us despite our best efforts. Questions that should be asked aren’t. Questions that no one really cares about are lingered on too long. It become genre bending and I am not sure if it is good or bad.
With the main character being a stony hired killer, there’s no one to root for, and it doesn’t take too many lingering shots of Brain furrowing his brow to convey the wheels of his genius brain are turning while conducting surveillance of mundane events until you stop caring. Slogging through to the ending adds little, so you might as well just move on when the boredom gets intense. There’s really not any “twist” at the end that redeems things, as some reviewers try to make out; I don’t know if the film’s creators really even intended there to be. If you’re “blown away” by the ending, either you haven’t seen many movies of this sort, or you should probably consider yourself a pretty thick. By the time the final credits role I was emotionally exhausted and thoroughly entertained. One problem is that it’s hard to decipher all that is happening from one viewing. It can get ponderous and confusing. But, in the end, like I said, the acting is generally very good and the action of the deaths very well done.
Still, this is a commercially-released picture with a fairly big Hong Kong star, so I have to grade it as such. It won’t push barriers, nobody how good you think this film may be. The intricate accident sequences are thrilling in their complexity and streaked here and there by a certain poetry. The rain, the neon lights and a solar eclipse dusty become the dominant hue of the photography. We can think Brain not as a criminal, but a sort of artist who paints on a canvas the instruction book of human-robot who thinks he can choose, who thinks things randomly happen to him, who thinks he’s really living. Sadly, it falls claim to bid budget Hong Kong and in its favor, those are criticism a film like this can’t avoid. I’m conflicted, I enjoyed what I saw, but there were just too many things I couldn’t overlook. Naturally, if you like Johnnie’s movies, this should be among your list.