Koma (aka Jiu ming) DVD Review

Written by Peter West

DVD released by Tartan Films USA



Directed by Chi-Leung Law
Written by Susan Chan
2004, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on March 8th, 2005

Angelica Lee
Karena Lam



At an extravagant wedding reception the bridesmaid Chi Ching (Angelica Lee) not only catches the bouquet, she really gets loaded on champagne. While leaving the room of newly married couple she stumbles into a open doorway and finds a woman bleeding profusely after having her kidney removed. The only lead is a mysterious woman spotted by Chi Ching at the room's doorway seconds earlier.

After Chi selects her from the hotel surveillance video, Suen Ling (Karena Lam) is brought in for questioning. When she bumps into Chi in the restroom she begins a campaign to discredit Chi Ching, claiming this is retaliation for sleeping with Chi's boyfriend Wai. Police disregard the identification thinking this is only a love triangle, however Suen starts harassing Chi threatening to take her kidney!

Starring two of Hong Kong's most beautiful actresses, Koma is a exciting thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and DePalma. The plot really thickens as the two women develop a love/hate friendship that can only end in tragedy!



Koma was based on a internet email that circulated about a woman who woke up in a tub of ice and on the wall in blood was a note that if she called the police she would die. She was drugged and one of her kidneys was removed. I myself of heard of that happening in Europe to patrons of prostitutes. Whether true or not, it does work as the foundation of a fine psychological thriller! The cat and mouse game between the two leading ladies will keep you guessing throughout. Will Chi keep her kidney?

Director Lo Chi Leung does a excellent job of leading us through this taunt thriller. I'm real interested in checking out some of his other films like Inner Senses and Double Tap. His use of the two female leads was also bold and he crafts a intelligent but scary relationship between them. We almost forget Suen's threats to Chi as they share moments of intimate friendship. Koma is another great example of the lead that Asia is taking now in the horror genre. I can't wait for the next Tartan Asia Extreme release!


Video and Audio:

Presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen, Koma was shot on digital video and the picture is excellent. While showing some of the limitations of this format, overall the picture is excellent. It seems more and more that movies from Asia are shot on this format. While not my favorite medium, it does not detract from the movie.

Tartan once again comes through and delivers a DTS soundtrack along with a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 track. All are in Cantonese. The music is reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann soundtracks from Hitchcock films. It provides excitement and goes well with the action.


Special Features:

Koma contains several interesting extras. A subtitled director's commentary, a making of featurette. The theatrical trailer that is included with other Tartan Asia Extreme releases. This has become standard fare for Tartan releases, I'll probably be disappointed now if I don't find a release with so much supplemental material now!



Movie: Fourandahalfstars
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fivestars
Features: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars



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