Accident (originally titled Assassins) is a 2009 Hong Kong action thriller film directed by Soi Cheang, produced by Johnnie To and starring Louis Koo, and Richie Jen.
A self-styled “accident choreographer,” the Brain is a professional hitman 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. Perennially plagued with guilt, he is also suspicious and morbid by nature. The recent avalanche of memories of his lost wife does not make things any easier.
After one mission accidentally goes wrong, causing the life of one of his men, the Brain is convinced that this accident has been choreographed: someone is out there plotting to terminate him and his team. He becomes increasingly paranoid, walking on the thin line between reality and delusion.
When he is accosted by a mysterious insurance agent Fong who happened to be on the scene of the “accident” as well, the Brain becomes convinced that this man is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to take him out. To regain his sanity and to save his life, he must strive to kill Fong before he makes his next move.
Accident contains examples of:
- Apophenia Plot: The Brain is an an "accident choreographer" who specializes in killing people by arranging freak "accidents". During one his assignments, something goes wrong and an actual freak accident results in one of his men being run over by a bus. The circumstances of this accident are so similar to the ones he arranges that the Brain becomes convinced that this was a deliberate attack aimed at him. His obsession drives him into paranoia, but as the viewer learns there never was a conspiracy, this really was just a freak accident.
- Blinded by the Light: Brain plans to kill Fong using sunlight reflected off a CCTV camera and a car windscreen into the face of a driver so he won't see Fong on the road in front of him. A Convenient Eclipse stops this from happening, only to trigger again after the eclipse ends, killing Fong's wife instead.
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: When the Triad boss is killed by falling glass, his blood pools on the sidewalk and spills into the water in the gutter.
- Camera Spoofing: CCTV cameras are dealt with by a member of the team holding a bunch of balloons, and releasing one to float up and block the camera.
- Complexity Addiction: Brain rejects the idea of using a car accident to kill the pawnbroker (perhaps because of his wife's death) in favor of an elaborate plan involving electrocution via tram tracks that depends on it raining on the night in question.
- Dead Man Honking: The opening credits end with the car crash that kills the Brain's wife. She is shown smashing through the windscreen, followed by a prolonged blaring off the horn.
- Downer Ending: Fong murders Brain in revenge, but will never know why his wife was killed. He'll likely be caught and sent to jail, and he can't even argue diminished responsibility as no-one would believe his wife's death was anything but an accident.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Fatty's death really was an accident, caused when Uncle dropped the balls he was carrying while posing as a street vender and they rolled out in front of the bus, causing the driver to lose control.
- For all his paranoia, Brain is killed when Fong just runs up and stabs him, an uncomplicated murder entirely different from the ones he's planned and executed.
- Forgetful Jones; Unknown to the rest of his team, Uncle has a medical condition that is causing him to lose his memory. This ultimately has tragic consequences.
- Grave-Marking Scene: The Brain visits the road near the airport where his wife died in a car crash.
- High-Voltage Death: The pawnbroker is electrocuted when the crew drape a wet kite string over a tram cable and on to his wheelchair during a rainstorm.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: Two of the Brain's gang are known only by their nicknames: Fatty and Uncle. The third member is a case of No Name Given. (The Brain, however, does have a real name: Ho Kwok-fai).
- Make It Look Like an Accident: This movie is about a group of assassins who specialize on creating very cunning circumstances that lead to a target's death. The murders are assumed to be accidents because the circumstances are so unlikely it doesn't seem feasible that anyone could have orchestrated them.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- The pawnbroker's son hires the team to kill his crippled father, perhaps for the insurance money, but is horrified to witness his death by electrocution, and is eventually Driven to Suicide.
- Brain when he realises there was no murder plot and that his plan to kill Fong is still in operation with Fong's wife standing in the target area.
- No Name Given: The female member of the gang is never addressed by name (or nickname). In the credits, she is referred to as 'the Woman'.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In the Batman Cold Open The Woman has a burst tire and pretends to be too stupid to pull over and let other vehicles pass. The man behind her loses patience and drives around her...putting him in position for the fatal accident.
- One-Word Title
- Parking Garage: The client pays off the hitmen by leaving a packet of money in the backseat of an unlocked car in a multilevel garage, with the bay number sent to him by text.
- Planning with Props: When planning how to murder the pawnbroker and make it look like an accident, the gang constructs a detailed model of the block where his shop is located, using props including dice, cigarette packets, masking tape, etc.
- Posthumous Character: The Brain's wife is dead at the start of the film. In fact, the first scene shows the accident that caused her death.
- Professional Killers: The Brain, Uncle, Fatty and The Woman.
- Roadside Wave: Uncle drives a truck with water containers that spill on the road, and when the Triad boss drives past he causes this trope, making innocent bystanders back off from the intended target area.
- Room Full of Crazy: The Brain rents the flat below Fong's and draws the layout of Fong's apartment on the ceiling to help make sense of what he's hearing through the microphones he's planted. As the Brain's sanity slips, he starts detailing the connections of his conspiracy theory—interspersed with pages from his notebook—on the walls.
- Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: The Professional Killers specialise in engineering deaths like this so they look like improbable accidents; although the team are always on site to ensure that each step goes off without a hitch. The murder the Brain engineers solo at the end of the film is even more like this, as he is acting on his own and several of the steps are things that could not have occurred by accident.
- Sanity Slippage: Following Fatty's death (which he is convinced was aimed at him), the Brain begins a rapid descent into paranoia: seeing conspiracy at every turn.
- Soft Glass: Averted; the first 'accident' involves setting up the mark to inadvertently break a window so he'll be showered by enough falling glass to cause a fatal injury.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Ho Kwok-fai is known as 'The Brain', and whenever anyone refers to him by his nickname, it always includes the definite article.
- Tragic Keepsake: The Brain treasures the shattered wristwatch his wife was wearing when she died in a car crash. When his safe is robbed, he thinks the thieves deliberately left the watch behind as a taunt at him. They actually just did not consider it worth taking.
- You Have Failed Me: When the Woman goes to pick up the payoff from the pawnbroker's son, Brain assumes that she arranged Fatty's death and kills her with another freak 'accident'.