‘Koma’ Review

Imagine drunkenly stumbling into someone else’s hotel room and discovering a ghastly scene of bloody violence. That’s what happens to Ching (Angelica Lee) after a friend’s wedding, and soon she is set on a collision course with organ thieves.

Koma - Image courtesy of Tartan Video USAWhen Ching picks Ling (Karena Lam) out of a police line-up as a possible suspect, Ling angrily reveals that she had a one-night stand with Ching’s boyfriend, Wai (Andy Hui). Ling begins stalking Ching, making phone calls threatening to cut out her kidney, even as she pines for Wai. Ching begins to fall apart, but more surprises await. Dynamic performances by rising stars Lee and Lam add emotional substance to the ongoing, nerve-jangling jolts.

As with the underrated DOUBLE TAP and the spooky INNER SENSES, director Lo Chi Leung demonstrates his ability to establish an atmosphere that ripples with dread. He then proceeds to tell a story that claws its way into the viewer’s soul.

Directed by Lo Chi Leung. With Angelica Lee, Karena Lam, Andy Hu. (Originally published as program notes in the catalog for AFI FEST 2004 presented by Audi.)

* DVD Notes *

85 minutes. Tartan Video USA. Region 1. NTSC.

Tartan’s video transfer appears be taken from the Hong Kong theatrical release print, which has at least one minor — though notable — difference from the Panorama Region 3 disk. (For details, see John Charles’ review at Hong Kong Digital. There you will also find a lengthy excerpt from an e-mail I wrote to John asking about the crucial difference, as well as comments on the visit of director Lo Chi Leung to AFI FEST in November 2004.)

Both the Panorama and the Tartan disks include three Cantonese audio tracks (DD 5.1 and 2.0, and DTS), while only Panorama has a Mandarin dub track. The Tartan version includes English and Spanish subtitles, which are easy to read and well timed.

The Tartan 15-minute “making of” supplement sounds like the same one included on the Panorama edition, with the added bonus of English subtitles.

Exclusive to the Tartan edition is a scene-specific audio commentary by director Lo Chi Leung, in Cantonese with English subtitles. The director explains his approach to certain sequences, fills in details on locations and the reasons for the choices he made, and is effusive in his praise for the cast and crew. If you like the film, it’s definitely worth a listen.

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