Koma Review

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)


Between Koma and The Eye Angelica Lee is running the risk of being typecast as the organ-transplant actress. Unfortunately the movement of human bits and pieces from one body to another is where the comparison ends. While The Eye is a strong example of genre film done right Koma, though showing flashes of style, plays it right up the middle with stock twists and shallow characters. While not a particularly bad film it certainly doesn’t bring much of anything new to the table and fails to execute as well as a good number of others that have tread this ground in the past. If The Eye left you with a burning desire to see what Lee looks like whilst vomiting then this is the film for you, otherwise not so much.

Lee stars as Chi Ching, an young upper class woman who happens to suffer from kidney disease. After drinking to much at a swank wedding Ching takes a mistaken turn into a stranger’s hotel room and stumbles upon a young woman naked and bleeding profusely on the floor, the victim of kidney theft. Yep, Koma’s premise is lifted straight from the old urban legend of people waking up in hotel rooms in bath tubs full of ice light an organ. The police are called in and Ching identifies a young woman – Kar Yan Lam’s Ling – as a strange, out of place woman she bumped into in the hall outside the mystery hotel room and it appears that the police have their thief. But wait! It turns out that Ling has been engaged in an affair with Ching’s boyfriend Wai and the police write the ID off as part of a lover’s quarrel. The girls hate each other and issue threats, Ching and Wai break up and get back together, the girls become best friends, Wai and Ling continue doing the nasty then break up and things continue along until reaching a bloody conclusion full of axes, scalpels, blood and very unsanitary transplants.

Do I seem like I’m treating the plot a little bit lightly? Well, if director Lo Chi Leung (Inner Senses) had put a little more effort into it then I might feel compelled to do so as well. For every well shot and executed scene in this film there’s a plot development, red herring or dropped thread that makes no sense at all. Ching waking up to find someone has broken into her apartment, cut her phone line and CARVED A TOOTH OUT OF HER MOUTH AS SHE SLEPT, you’d think that would lead to some sort of further comment, yes? Nope. Disappears into the vapor. Ching suddenly becoming best pals with the woman who’s been sleeping with her boyfriend and making threatening phone calls – one of which led directly to Ching being in a head on collision – doesn’t make sense to you? You’re not the only one, but apparently Leung’s not particularly concerned with that. The film is loaded with these sorts of nonsensical leaps and omissions and they completely undermine whatever strengths the rest of the film may have. There are some good jumps and scares, yes, but all the jumps in the world won’t help a film stick with you if you don’t believe in the characters. And I don’t.

The DVD is similarly middle of the road in terms of quality. Subs are good, it includes DTS sound and the transfer is fairly crisp, but it also happens to have a notable amount of dirt on the print with speckles and spots turning up fairly regularly.

I’m not really certain I understand why Tartan’s bringing this film out here. Critical response in Asia was weak, box office was only middling, and though the film isn’t horrible there are certainly far better genre films to choose from out of Asia. I can only assume they were hoping the twin elements of blood and breasts would draw in the audience.

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