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Tartan Video presents
Koma (2004)

"Call the police or you'll die!"
- message written on a wall for a victim of unexpected surgery

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: June 24, 2005

Stars: Karena Lam, Angelica Lee
Other Stars: Roy Chow, Lui Kai-Chi, Andy Hui
Director: Lo Chi-Leung

MPAA Rating: R for violence and some nudity
Run Time: 01h:24m:43s
Release Date: March 08, 2005
UPC: 807839001464
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ DA-A C+

DVD Review

The Asian horror craze has hit, prompting a plethora of American remakes, full of all the ghoulish Cousin It girls and dripping atmosphere that has contributed to the genre's success. Tartan has become the foremost distributor of these pictures, touting them through their high quality "Asia Extreme" line. Turning from the trusty themes of supernatural frights, Koma delves into the good old solid fear of Chinese organ thieves. Lots of those running around these days.

At a wedding, Fung Ching (Angelica Lee) finds herself a bit intoxicated. The evening has gone to her head, and dancing has been replaced by an unhealthy stagger down the hotel corridor. Instead off finding relief through some solid sacktime, the young girl stumbles into the wrong room and finds another youngster laying on a bathroom floor in a pool of blood; she is missing a kidney. Terrified, Ching runs to the police to report the incident. Apparently, a ring of underground organ thieves is hard at work, and the cynical cop in charge of the investigation tires of filling out the same report.

There is a lead, though; Ching identifies a possible culprit: Suen Ling (Karena Lam), an unsettling girl who shockingly reveals she had an affair with Ching's boyfriend, Wai (Andy Hui). This is an unexpected diversion, conveniently distracting Ching from the crime at hand. Before long, fear of losing a kidney returns as Ling continually harasses the poor girl over the phone. Ching lives in terror, but is Ling the true organ thief? The truth seems distant at best, and Ching must control her fear if she is to wake up tomorrow whole.

Well, there's really not much to report here. After an effective opening, Koma consistently falters. I'm not particularly fond of the horror genre to begin with, but I can recognize and admire when such a film works. Koma simply doesn't. This contrived and somewhat frightless story fails to inspire with its forced romance, which is buried beneath a stinky pile of horror movie clichés. A cheesy musical score and plenty of scare attempts make themselves about as subtle as Al Franken's politics. Large open spaces in the frame are prime for a good "unexpected" pop in, and plastic sheeting becomes a surprisingly formidable and equally laughable weapon.

Performances are passable, considering the script doesn't really care about developing its characters. I'm not sure how these actors dealt with the odd, unexpected fragmentation of the plot; I doubt any great actor could pull off this mess convincingly. The visuals range from tasteful to appallingly overlit, but these shots are clumsily edited. The whole affair is quite silly, but if you're into cheesy horror, this may be worthwhile. If its organ thieves you're after, check out the superb Dirty Pretty Things, and let Koma sleep.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Tartan's anamorphic transfer is excellent, showcasing good detail and rich blacks. Print defects are somewhat evident here and there, but this is a solid image.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Cantoneseno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby and DTS 5.1 tracks do the job of supporting the cheesiness with a fine use of enveloping audio. Dialogue is clear, atmosphere is rich, and dynamic range is impressive.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tartan Asia Extreme, Old Boy, A Tale of Two Sisters, Whispering Corridors, A Snake of June
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Lo Chi-Leung
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Tartan's quality disc includes an audio commentary with director Lo Chi-Leung, subtitled in English. His comments cover the usual topics, such as some on-set anecdotes, casting, the ideas behind the film, and more.

You will also find a making-of featurette (15m:28s), full of the expected behind-the-scenes bits, clips, and interviews. The disc rounds out with a photo gallery, the film's trailer, and a slew of other trailers for the titles listed above.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

A campy horror effort that elicits more laughs than screams, Koma will appeal to the MST3K crowd out there. There are moments of slick visuals, but this is just too clichéd to be memorable. Tartan's quality disc will keep you conscious for at least the first few minutes; don't count on the film doing the same.


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