Produced by Johnnie To's Milky Way Image production company, director Cheang Pou-Soi's 2009 film Accident follows a group of four professional accident planners: Brain (Louis Koo), Fatty (Suet Lam), Uncle (Fung Shui-Fan) and Woman (Michelle Ye). These four have done quite well for themselves, working together seamlessly and staging murders that, by all accounts, appear to have happened completely at random. They've been in this game for some time now and the loads of cash that Brain, still grieving after the death of his wife, has stashed in his safe indicates that they're doing quite well for themselves.
Their latest assignment is to eliminate the son of an elderly wheelchair bound man, a job that they take figuring it will be no harder than any of their previous assignments. Each of the four are prepped and ready for their respective roles with Brain orchestrating the event, Uncle playing watchman, Woman the distractive agent and Fatty the assistant to Brain. Their planning gets rocked a little though when the rain they'd been counting on doesn't show up quite in time and Uncle forgets his role. They take out their target but an unplanned appearance from an out of control bus hits and kills Fatty in the process. Brain immediately becomes suspicious and starts to put together a few clues that indicate that he and his crew have been beaten at their own game and that someone is out to get him. This leads him on a mission to figure out who killed Fatty and why which sees him slowly but surely start to lose his grip on reality.
Going any further into plot details would ruin this movie for those who haven't seen it but let it suffice to say that this is a pretty smart film. There are a few great twists here and the movie does a great job of holding your interest and keeping you guessing right up until the end. It's interesting how the story weaves elements from the death of Brain's wife into the context of what's actually happening 'now' in the movie and how it brings the repercussions of that obviously traumatic event into play with how he deals with the situation. This, coupled with how he handles the events that take place after Fatty is hit by the bus, really makes the film work and takes it into some very unexpectedly dark territory.
Cheang Pou-Soi keeps the movie going at a quick pace and makes sure that it always looks great. There are a lot of noirish elements to the photography, not the least of which are the use of rain and dark shadows to produce some impressive visual set pieces. Additionally, there's an element of Final Destination style 'mouse trap' planning to the accident set pieces that are used throughout the movie that are handled very well without ever really coming across as gimmicky. Of course, none of this would work all that well if the case weren't game but thankfully all involved bring their best to the film. Louis Koo, who To fans will remember from the two Election films, is excellent in the lead role. He's quite believable as the mastermind behind the accident planning operation and plays the role with the right amount of cold and calculating character traits. It's interesting to watch him as his paranoia starts to increase to see just how far his character is going to go. Also impressive is Fung Shui-Fan as Uncle, the most sympathetic character of the bunch. As he begins to lose his memory we can't help but feel for him as he obviously wants nothing more than to continue to be a valued member of Brain's team. Michelle Ye and Suet Lam aren't given quite as much to do but are still very good in their roles, both of them playing a very important part in how all of this pans out.
Accident arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1. Video quality varies from shot to shot, sometimes fairly drastically, but we get the impression that most of the time this is intentional. The movie is fairly gritty looking and not always the most colorful picture, but the close-up shots used throughout the movie do show some nice fine detail. The darker scenes, of which there are a few, sometimes suffer from minor compression artifacts and shadow detail won't floor you but overall the movie looks pretty decent in high definition. Not perfect, but decent.
The only audio option on the disc is a Cantonese language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that comes with forced (though not burned in) English subtitles. The audio quality, overall, is quite strong. The more action intensive scenes, like the opening 'accident' and the scene in which the bus chases Louis Koo's character, understandably have the most going on but even the quieter moments have some decent ambient noise here and there. The levels are well balanced, there are no issues to note with any hiss or distortion and bass response is strong throughout the film. There are a few minor typos in the English subtitles but they're clean, clear and easy to read. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks are also included, again in Cantonese with the same English subtitles.
Extras don't set the world on fire but there are a couple of bits and pieces here. The theatrical trailer for the feature is included and the disc also contains a making of featurette that runs roughly twelve minutes and which features some cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage. There's not much to it, but it's something. Menus and chapter selection are also included.
A tense and well made thriller, Accident is a movie well worth seeking out. Louis Koo is very good in the lead role and the script is interesting and clever. The supporting performances are also strong and the movie is made with just the right amount of style and substance. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray looks alright and sounds even better and even if it's light on extras, it still comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.