My introduction to Soi Cheang was his 2006 film, Dog Bite Dog, that was an impressive and visceral crime thriller and one of the best Hong Kong action films I had seen in years. Now, Shout! Factory has just released his 2009 film Accident, produced by Johnnie To and his Milkyway Production team that is just another reason why one should be paying attention to Cheang and this kind of output from Hong Kong. In what appears to be an homage to Coppola’s The Conversation, Accident stars Louis Koo as The Brain, a paranoid hitman that stages his assassinations as accidents to fend off the police. Together with a small crew, stage these hits, that target everyone from Triad mob bosses to everyday people. During a job, something goes wrong and The Brain begins to think that he and his crew have been targeted by another crew that’s in their line of work. What begins as retaliation, spirals into a descent of madness where no one can be trusted and death awaits around the corner.
Louis Koo has always been a good leading man in every production that I’ve seen him in. From Johnnie To’s Election films to Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint, he’s shown great qualities, but in Accident he’s honing in on some extremely fine acting chops. The Brain doesn’t speak much and we’re left to understand him through his interactions with other characters, physical actions and his expressions that give you just enough detail to define his character and show how great Koo is, under the direction of Cheang. The script and story by Lik-Kei Tang and Kam-Yuen Szeto does an incredible job at getting the audience in the headspace of The Brain and really makes us believe in all of the paranoia and suspense that is strewn throughout the movie. The cinematography by Yuen Man Fung, who also shot Dog Bite Dog, makes some really impressive shots and creates a great look for the film. From great dolly pull ins, to some nice close ups, Fung shows off that he knows how to craft a thriller, visually and does his job by showing the story, instead of telling it.
The Blu-Ray that Shout! Factory has put out has a few issues on its video track that make it a little problematic. The 1080p AVC encoded film was cropped from its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio to a 1.79:1 ratio. While the framing is for the most part consistent, there are only a few scenes from the movie where one could tell that the film isn’t being properly displayed. Another issue is that there are times where the film is soft and doesn’t look as crisp and clear in other scenes. While it isn’t absolutely terrible, its clear that Accident will be a reference disc on the video side for this Blu-Ray release. The audio is presented in three Cantonese tracks, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. The DTS-HD track is the best one on the disc that does a great job at presenting the action scenes really well, in its surround channels and presents clear dialog throughout the entire mix. The other tracks are really great too, just the fidelity of the DTS-HD track, make it the one to go to when watching Accident.
Shout! Factory has done the US market justice by bringing Accident stateside. It shows how much of a great job that Johnnie To is doing with his Milkyway Productions and their recent crime thrillers, as well as show off the talent that is Soi Cheang. Highly Recommended!