81 Accident

I have had this film sitting in my to-watch pile since just before christmas, and the time came to pop it into the DVD player, and see if the recommendation was worthwhile. And, as usual, it came up trumps.

Accident” is the story in the main of ‘The Brain’ (Louis Koo), and his small gang – the ageing Uncle (Fung Shui-Fan), Fatty (Lam Suet) and an unnamed girl (Michelle Ye). Together they perform hits, by arranging complex yet untraceable accidents. We start by watching their hit on a triad boss, which although successful, highlights the fractures that have grown within the team. A second hit, this time to help perpetrate an insurance fraud, goes somewhat awry, leading to the death of a team member. Koo’s character is already somewhat paranoid, and he starts to believe that either a member of his team is betraying him, or that he is being tracked down by an insurance agent.

One of my favorite films of the 1970’s is “The Day Of The Jackal“, where we follow the fantastic Edward Fox’s assassin through the minutiae of his assassination work. Parts of this film felt like that to me – displaying the hard work, the preparation, and the loneliness of an obviously “bad” character. This film had all that – but also had a little more – Koo’s character is wonderfully complex, haunted by a loss of his own, and overcome by the paranoia that the nature of his job entails.

When I first started watching the film, I was expecting a lot more action, but actually the film is measured and calm, yes there are a couple of interesting action scenes, but most of the film is about people, about relationships, about loss. It is a quiet film, with no pumping soundtrack and not a gun on display. To me, this makes it almost uniquely Asian, reminding me of those unusual properties that dragged me into this nook of world cinema.

Although well surrounded by an excellent cast, the film lives or dies on the performance of Koo – who performs admirably. When we meet him, he is already living off the grid, and as the film progresses, we see his calm exterior slowly get chipped away, driven into despair and desperation. There is just enough in the performance to make us feel sympathy for what should be a totally unpleasant character, and when the ending arrives, you feel his joy as the eventual release.

Of course you could criticise the film for relying too much on co-incidence, but for me that is part of the point. The Brain has made a living out of manipulating fate, it is only right that his downfall comes by a true random manipulation of events. He has made a career out of creating synchronicity, but what comes around goes around, and the world ensures that it has its eventual revenge on him.

Don’t come to this film if you are expecting the glorious flash and thunder of Hong Kong action movies. In fact, this film has more of a Japanese feel to it than a Chinese one. But, if you want to spend an intelligent 90 minutes watching a bad man collapse under the weight of his deeds, this one comes as Recommended


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