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RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME 87 Minutes
• Making of Featurette
A Chinese thriller with a human Wile E. Coyote.
Director: Pou-Soi Cheang Actors: Louis Koo, Richie Ren, Shui-Fan Fung
A troubled assassin, who works by orchestrating “accidents”, suspects that an accident that happens to his team is not an accident at all.
After the distributor and film festival logos finish, the first thing that occurs is we hear a car crash and a woman is thrown through the windshield to lie bleeding on the hood of her car. She must have hit every artery in her body, because there is more blood here than in the bucket during the finale of Carrie. I thought that even though she was bleeding more than should have been possible, that she may last long enough for help to arrive, but literally two seconds later her combustible life juice catches fire and we get a CGI flame you could see from space. Time to roll the credits.
The opening scene sets the misguided and sometime overdone tone of this Asian thriller, originally titled Yi Ngoi. I felt Accident was a decent attempt at Chinese filmmaking attempting to tell a Korean like story. The bad side to Accident is that by trying to mix the styles the countries are most well known for, it winds up not doing either in a stand out way. That’s not to say the film is not worth your time, but it is not Oldboy or I Saw the Devil, even though it attempts to be.
To introduce our main characters, after the credits we get to witness a lengthy process as a middle aged, pressed for time business man dies in an “accident”. The interesting way it plays out is very reminiscent of the Final Destination death scenes, where a bunch of small stuff happens, a banner falls, the guy gets out of his car and then a metal cable brakes due to human intervention, and the cable luckily happens to go right where it needs to go. I was instantly enamored by the sequence and thought this might be a perfect blend of Final Destination and Ocean’s Eleven.
When we get to meet the characters who staged this elaborate death trap, we get to see the mandatory henchman that every good crime thriller must have. The stocky but not real smart guy who’s subtitled name is “Fatty”, the angst driven young woman who appears to have a creepy infatuation with “the Brain” and the mentally incompetent forgetful old man are the three people who make up the team that follow orders from the guy known as “the Brain”. We are able to see the necessity for teaming up with Fatty and the girl, but the older gentlemen appears to be a hindrance, which raises the question why these highly intelligent death engineers would keep him around, if for nothing else other than to make the movie interesting.
To get through the introductions and begin the main part of the story which has not been hinted at, we have to go through the entire process of planning and customizing a second accident. The problem is that this accident becomes more based on chance than the last. The amount of time it takes to get to executing this plan substantially eats away at the entirety of the film. This force the movie to have a stretched thin for time concept. What we are left with is a movie that is very front ended. When the main story begins, we are nearing the 45 minute mark in a film that has a total runtime of 87 minutes including at least 5 minutes for credits. The second half appears rushed, and forces an increasing amount of ignorance about how much chance actually plays a part in pulling off these events our leads make a daily job out of. Randomness is used as so much of the plot, that an surprisingly not foreshadowed solar eclipse serves our leader a consciousness as a key plot point. I’m all for suspending belief to allow a film to pursue a narrative theme, but there is a breaking point that the script turns from having holes out to flat out lazy. Accident is often on the wrong side of that line.
When the central plot takes up less than 40 minutes, it becomes very hard to build emotional resonance with the characters. I feel I could have spent the entire length of the film just watching them put together accidents and figure out how to orchestrate getting their mark to the right place at the right time, but the story is ultimately about a person who does such things will never be safe because they know they are not the only ones in the business.
Even with all the sad storytelling and mistimed pacing, the movie plays as very entertaining. The accident sequences, albeit unbelievable, are a lot of fun, and the direction effortlessly whisks you along with the action. The hints of paranoia could have been better served if they had taken more time, so it loses a lot of the bigger impact it could have had. We barely get to know why the Brain is so paranoid and we are in the midst of the end game. Somewhere in there was an incredibly tense thriller that would have kept audiences glued to their seats and Accident would have gone down as one of the greats. As it is, it winds up as a below average story that uses some crafty visuals and swift pace to make it a little bit above average experience.
The extras are bare minimum, only a short (but subtitled) Making of featurette, which includes some general publicity information that becomes pointless if you have already seen the film. They also include the Theatrical Trailer.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars