Milkyway Image Films latest Hong Kong release is the classiest and most intelligent film to come from Hong Kong so far this year. Lead actor Louis Koo (Overheard) gives a brilliant performance in Accident and is quickly becoming one of the best screen actors in Asia.
In his debut feature for Milkyway Films, director Soi Cheang (Dog Bite Dog) has tempered his usually dark, violent cinema visions and created a wholly satisfying cerebral crime drama, very much in the Milkyway Image mould.
Brain (Louis Koo) leads a close-knit gang of highly amoral killers, who meticulously arrange and choreograph accidents which happen to specific people – these acts are in fact murders. The gang is well paid and very secretive. Each member has an innate ability to blend in with their enviroment: the junk food junkie (Lam Suet), the sassy go-girl (Michelle Ye) and the kindly, elderly uncle (Shui Fan-Fung). Brain is the puppet master of this group, utilising their talents and often playing with their minds.
For a short time Accident could be seen as a sardonic take on the glitzy Hollywood confections of Mission Impossible and Oceans 11. But this film is grounded in an urban reality and soon develops a psychological edge which cuts deep.
Visually director Cheang opts for the Hong Kong of Chris Doyle (via DOP Yuen Man Fung): waves of misty rain, impossibly shiny cars and a streetscape that sweats claustrophobia.
One of the “accidents” goes wrong and the gang loses a member, this sets off a chain of events which most of the participants have little control over. Brain can’t accept that his intricate plan was at fault and looks for answers. Soon the team is under threat again….
Koo’s character garners the viewer’s sympathy after a personal tragedy, but his targetting of an insurance executive is puzzling.
Koo captures Brain’s character beautifully, a control freak who treads a fine line between normality and paranoia. A loner who lives in the shadows by night and a chameleon who hides in plain sight by day.
It’s his growing obsession with the insurance company employee named Fung (Richie Ren) who Brain is determined to unmask as the master criminal – “a flawless person” he notes in his diary. Soon he is organising 24/7 electronic surveillance of Fung – this creeping paranoia develops an unsettling chill which is more Hameke than Hitchcock.
Some may find the ending of Accident contrived but I think it works perfectly, something regular viewers of Milkyway Image Films have come to expect.