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Accident (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 20, 2012 by  



“Accident” was a film that I did enjoy and as a longtime Louis Koo and Richie Jen fan, it’s great to see these two actors in these type of character roles.   And I was pleased to see a story that was not typical HK banality, I enjoyed “Accident” because it was different.  But as for the Blu-ray release, knowing that the Hong Kong Blu-ray release is superior to the Region 1 US release, is a bit of a letdown and why the cropping, who knows?  But in the end, what could have been an awesome release ends up becoming decent.

Images courtesy of © 2009 Media Asia Films, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Accident (Yi ngoi)

FILM RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 87 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Shout! Factory, Media Asia Distribution

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: June 12, 2012

Directed by Pou-Soi Cheang

Screenplay by Kam-Yuen Szeto, Lik-Kei Tang

Executive Producer: John Chong

Producer: Johnnie To

Music by Xavier Jamaux

Cinematography by Yuen Man Fung

Edited by David M. Richardson

Art Direction by Silver Cheung, Stanley Cheung

Costume Design by Silver cheung, Stanely Cheung

Starring:

Louis Koo as Ho Kwok-fai, The Brain

Richie Ren as Chan Fong-chow

Shui-Fan Fung as Uncle

Michelle Ye as Woman

Suet Lam as Fatty

A self-styled “accident choreographer,” Ho Kwok-fai, “The Brain,” (Louis Koo, Election, in one of the most compelling performances of his career) is a professional hit man who kills his victims by trapping them in well-crafted “accidents” that look like unfortunate mishaps but are in fact perfectly staged acts of crime. He is perennially plagued with guilt, as the avalanche of memories of his recently lost wife continue to haunt him.

After one mission goes horribly wrong, costing the life of one of his men, Brain is convinced that this accident has been choreographed and someone is out there plotting to terminate him and his team. He becomes increasingly paranoid, walking the thin line between reality and delusion.

When he discovers that a mysterious insurance agent, Chan Fong-chow, (Richie Jen, Exiled) is somewhat related to one of the “accidents” he has staged, Brain becomes obsessed with the idea that this man must be the mastermind behind a conspiracy to take him out. To regain his sanity and save his life, he must stay one step ahead of Fong before he makes his next move.

Filmmaker Pou-Soi Cheang is known for films that revolve around assassins or murder (“Hidden Heroes”, “Dog Bite Dog”, “Shamo”, “Love Battlefield”), in 2009, Cheang would collaborate with famous Hong Kong producer Johnnie To (“Election”, “PTU”, “Running Out of Time”) and would release the film “Accident”.

“Accident” (“Yi Ngoi”) would star Louis Koo (“Triad Election”, “Election”, “Zu Warriors”, “Flash Point”), Richie Jen (“Breaking News”, “Fly Me to Polaris”, “Exiled”), Shui-Fan Fung (“Vengeance”, “Infernal Affairs”, “Winners & Sinners”), Michelle Ye (“Vengeance”, “Lady Cop & Papa Crook”) and Suet Lam (“Kung Fu Hustle”, “PTU”, “Election”).

The film would be nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards and would win “Best Supporting Actress” for Michelle Ye.

And now “Accident” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2012.

“Accident” revolves around a group of murderers led by Ho Kwok-Fai, also known as “the Brain” (as portrayed by Louis Koo).  Tormented by the murder of his wife, the Brain is now primarily focused in murders that are disguised as accidents.

Part of his team include a woman (as portrayed by Michelle Ye), Fatty (as portrayed by Lam Suet) and the elder Uncle (as portrayed by Stanley Fung).

Together, the four individuals have worked together in causing several “accidents” but everyone is beginning to worry about Uncle.  He is showing signs of lapse in memory, becoming forgetful and one slight slip can lead to each of them being caught.

But Uncle feels that he is OK and is frustrated that everyone thinks he is losing his touch, so the Brain decides to give him another chance.

There next job involves a young man who wants to kill his elder father.  The group plans an elaborate scheme in order to have the elder die by accidentally being shocked to death but group’s plan goes awry and several people are killed, including one of the group members.  Seeing that he was nearly killed,when the Brain arrives back to his apartment, someone has broken inside.

This leads the Brain to believe that someone has set them up and are planning to murder each of them through an “accident” scheme.

And when he sees their previous young client meets with a mysterious insurance agent named Chan Fong-chow (as portrayed by Richie Jen), The Brain believes this mysterious man is responsible in a conspiracy to take him out.

VIDEO:

“Accident” is presented in 108p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio).  A colleague mine told me that “Accident” is actually 2:39:1 and was cropped to a 1:79:1 ratio and that there are some scenes that are lost to the cropping.  I haven’t seen the “Accident” prior but seeing that others are reporting that the film was cropped, that would be disappointing.  But I’m going to cover this prior to me knowing about the film being cropped.  First, I will start with the good.  There are some really beautiful scenes by cinematographer Yuen Man Fung.  From the use of reflections and bokeh lights, that was nice to see.

But now to the bad, there are some artifacts that I noticed during scenes with a lot of red.  For example, one scene featuring The Brain next to a red door, I saw some artifacting on the door.  Fortunately, it was a short scene, but it is there.  Also, I’ve watched many, many Louis Koo films in my lifetime to know that either there was DNR or the makeup designer put too much make him on him.

The film looks very soft at times and then crisp at times…But to tell you the truth, clarity for a Blu-ray release, the film seemed uneven in video quality.   While videophiles will probably be bothered by it, casual viewers will probably not be bothered at all.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Accident” is presented in Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0.   The film does sound good during its action sequences (accidents) to ambiance such as the static radio to the sounds of footsteps above The Brain’s hideout.  So, the lossless soundtrack was good, but not very immersive which is understandable as most of the film is dialogue-driven or featuring the Brain spying on individuals through his headphones.  But I was told the HK release featured a 7.1 lossless soundtrack, so I’m surprised that was not included on this Blu-ray release.

Subtitles are in English (non-removable).

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Accident” comes with the following special features:

  • Trailer – (1:30) The theatrical trailer for “Accident”.
  • Making Of – (12:39) Featuring a few “Making Of” featurettes with interviews with the filmmaker and cast of “Accident”.

I have been a big fan of Louis Koo, Richie Jen and Johnnie To films for a long time.  I have seen Louis and Richie in many roles ranging from romantic comedies to just enjoyable popcorn comedy or action films.

For “Accident”, this role is probably the most subdued role I have seen both men in.  Louis Koo plays the character of “The Brain”, a person who has went through emotional trauma and is very suspicious towards people, as his career is about pulling of the most difficult crimes and making them look like accidents.  One misstep and he and the others will be in trouble.

But there is one thing that is a bit lacking is that we know he has gone through emotional trauma due to the death of his wife.  Was it a car accident?  Was she killed purposely?  Who knows.  But I was hoping to see how this accident would have a major effect on this man and it was something that was featured a little and made me feel that there was more to the story that was not included.  Possibly cut.

There are some pacing issues and questionable writing as well.  It’s one thing to show the buildup and lack of trust that The Brain has towards the mysterious insurance agent, Chan Fong-Chow but how is it that he starts to lose faith in his crew.  It just comes out of nowhere and doesn’t seem convincing.

Which then brings us to Chan Fong-Chow, possibly the best part of this film is how they use Richie Jen’s character and I don’t want to say too much but how the character was utilized was fascinating and my favorite part of the film.  Although Jen’s character is more towards normalcy instead of bombastic, happy character portrayals which I have seen him do before, it was pretty cool to see Jen play this type of character.

If anything, while I found some pacing and writing issues, the overall story was very good and quite different from what one is used to seeing in an HK film.  For so long, many fans have demanded original stories and were tired of rehashed storylines of things from the past.  “Accident” was definitely not banal.

Which leads us to the Blu-ray release.  The choice to crop the film from 2:39:1 to 1:78:1 is problematic and also to not release a 7.1 lossless soundtrack is a bit of a letdown.  Considering this is a Shout! Factory product, the company is known for its quality and is known for delivering what fans want.  But I don’t see how any Hong Kong cinema fan would approve of a release that is not up to standard of the original HK Blu-ray release.

And as for a Blu-ray release, it’s not the best when it comes to clarity or details.  And it’s one of the few titles where I think HK cinema fans will probably not miss much if they go with DVD than the Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Accident” was a film that I did enjoy and as a longtime Louis Koo and Richie Jen fan, it’s great to see these two actors in these type of character roles.   And I was pleased to see a story that was not typical HK banality, I enjoyed “Accident” because it was different.  But as for the Blu-ray release, knowing that the Hong Kong Blu-ray release is superior to the Region 1 US release, is a bit of a letdown and why the cropping, who knows?  But in the end, what could have been an awesome release ends up becoming decent.






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