Sunday, September 6, 2009

'Accident' defies Hong Kong thriller genre

VENICE, Italy – Hong Kong director Soi Cheang's urban thriller "Accident" was two years in the making. The director spent much of that time plotting murders that go undetected as accidents.

The movie, produced by Johnnie To, breaks the conventional Hong Kong thriller genre. There are no chase scenes, and not a bullet is fired.

The main character Brain, played by Louis Koo, leads a band of unusually analytical hitmen whose modus operandi is taking out targets in apparent accidents. But Brain's paranoia grows after his wife and one of the band are killed in spectacular accidents.

"In the scene where Brain and his friends are sitting in a room discussing how to kill, that was actually me, trying to figure out how to kill in a plausible way," Cheang said in an interview Saturday before the premiere of "Accident" at the Venice Film Festival.

To devise feasible accidents, Cheang said he consulted not the Hong Kong underworld, but college professors. He said they advised him against his original plan to use sonar waves to make glass shatter in an opening scene, which they said would have to be very, very, very loud to work.

Cheang said he wanted to change his approach to directing after his last film "Shamo," which he was unhappy with. The producer, To, also requested a non-Cheang movie.

Cheang said he used the psychological drama to make the transition, experiencing a process similar to what Brain goes through in the film.

"Louis' character in the film knew what he wanted as his objective, and just had to figure out how to get there. We saw him questioning himself. That is what I went through," Cheang said.

"When I used to make a film, I felt this burning fire in my chest. I wanted to be different and rebel. I didn't want to be bound by rules," the 37-year-old director said. "This time I took a different approach, in a more calm and rational way. Like Louis in the film."

The movie also stars Richie Jen as Fong, the object of Brain's paranoia, and Michelle Ye as one of the gang of hitmen.

"I found Soi was one of the most patient directors," Ye said, emphasizing Cheang's refusal to follow the Hong Kong convention of shooting a film in a matter of weeks. "Soi is not moved by actions from the outside. He is very determined from the heart."

"Accident" is competing for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded Sept. 12.

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