There is really something to be said for movies that catch you off guard when it comes to the story they are telling. Going in expecting one thing and coming out with something else is one of the great pleasures of movie going. You might not always get what you originally wanted but when you get something else that is highly entertaining or thought provoking you come away with a treasure. I remember going into Sean Penn’s The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson expecting a strong but standard story of a cop tracking down a killer. Instead what I got was a deep look into the psyche of a man driven by an unattainable quest. Like The Pledge, Accident delves into the realm of the obsessed and rewards you for it. The story starts out with the basic premise of a team of hitmen discover after one of their own is killed that there is another team working against them. The leader of the team, Ho Kwok-fai or “The Brain” (Louis Koo) is driven to discover just who is working against them and who is responsible for the death of Fatty (Suet Lam).
What sets Accident apart from other hitmen or spy movies are two things. First off, the way the assassin team works is by arranging accidents. In a couple of cases the accidents are a bit to coincidental to be believed but they are still entertaining. The first death is caused by the lone female of the team (Michelle Ye) having a flat tire which forces their victim down a side road. The car of the victim is then splashed from a truck driven by Unlce (Shui-Fan Fung) carrying some form of liquid which caused the car to swerve and which point a banner is dropped from the roadway above. When the victim removes the banner, he pulls on it dislodging a glass plate which shatters and drops down on him killing him. As far as the police are concerned this is an accident and therefore there is no search for the assassin. Each of the assassination planned in Accident are similar in nature. In effect the movie plays out much like a heist movie as opposed to a hitman movie with each team member having their own tasks and it is quite fun to watch the team work together and also experience some difficulties as mistakes are made.
As already mentioned, what truly sets Accident apart is that after the initial half is Louis Koo playing the driven character. He is sure that he knows who is responsible for things falling apart with his team. Koo plays the role perfectly. Just like Nicholson in The Pledge Koo is given much of the screen time and this allows us to watch as he works through the mystery of just what happened. From, his distrust of his teammates to listening in on the suspected killer who is having sex in the apartment above, watching Koo become The Brain is compelling.
Accident is produced by Johnnie To and is directed by Pou-Soi Cheang has several of the key elements of a To directed film. There are elaborate set pieces, the team of experts and more than a couple well shot scenes. I would not place Accident in with To’s better films but it is more than a match for his mid range films and this is saying something as I am a very big fan of Johnnie To. While I was expecting more of a typical action thriller I ended up with a very interesting character study . The only real faults that I can find would be that a couple of the “accidents” really are a bit too coincidental to be believed plus a whole subplot with the Uncle character developing Alzheimer’s felt a bit too rushed. Overall though, Accident is an interesting movie that has made me interested in checking out Pou-Soi Cheang’s other feature films.