Accident 2009 Review: Really cool shot sequences that play with the central character’s paranoia

A troubled assassin, who works by orchestrating “accidents”. Suspects that an accident that happens to his team is not an accident at all.

Accident (Sat Thu Thu Sinh) might just be the most refined and intelligent piece of Hong Kong cinema since 2002’s Infernal Affairs. The film probably won’t prove as popular with mainstream audiences due to its almost meditative, slow-burn pacing. But for anyone with an interest in inventive genre cinema. Soi Cheang’s newest outing is a must-see.

Taking its cues from Jean-Pierre Melville, Accident revolves around a group of assassins who stage their murders like accidents. The group is led by Brain (Louis Koo or Co Thien Lac in a career-defining performance), who grows increasingly paranoid when one of the group’s accidents goes awry and kills another member.

Thankfully, while the actual “accidents” are impressive and cleverly put together. Soi Cheang doesn’t make the mistake of letting gimmicky set pieces dominate his film. Instead, Accident 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.

Add to this an elegiac score by Xavier Jamaux. Elegant cinematography and you end up with the most compelling film (phim hanh dong Hong Kong) to come out of Asia in the past 2 years.

If there is any problem to be found in this. It’s that Accident is purely a Milkyway Image film. Not a Soi Cheang film. Anyone hoping to find the director’s trademark relentlessness here will be disappointed. Although it could be argued some of the nihilism found in works like Dog Bite Dog was carried over into Accident’s finale.

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