STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $24.99
• Director’s Commentary
• Making Of
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers

The Pitch

Dead Ringers meets Single White Female in Hong Kong.

The Humans

Karena Lam (Inner Senses), Lee Sinje (The Eye), Andy Hui (Wonder Seven)

The Nutshell

They say if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything; and so the lives of ailing rich girl Ching (Lee) and struggling medical student Ling (Lam) become intertwined. Meanwhile, somebody’s making a killing in black-market organ harvests– and using the old ‘wake-up-in-an-ice-filled-bathtub’ scenario to boot. Could it be anyone we know? Ching’s doctor boyfriend (Hui) is only the most obvious suspect, but the girl could use a new kidney…

The Lowdown

Koma (literal translation: "Help", though one of the characters is in a coma) may be a psycho-thriller on the surface, but at heart it’s a study of people needing each other. In fact, the thriller elements sometimes get in the way. The plotting, for all its twists and turns (some quite effective), could be a little tighter: at times it’s easy to forget that there’s a kidney thief on the loose.

Both leads are terrific. Lee’s empathetic eyes speak volumes (and do check out her work in… The Eye) even before we know anything about her. Director Chi-Leung Law shows unusual restraint filling us in; the first time we see her it’s not remotely obvious she’ll turn out to be the central character, and in fact I fully expected her to be the film’s first casualty.

Lam has the more conventional role. Asian thrillers are quickly becoming glutted with quiet, pretty, scary young women, and the socio-political issues embedded in that fact are probably worth an article of their own. Thankfully, there’s an added bonus in Ling’s class struggle. The facade she presents to the world (and the wealthy Ching in particular) is convincing, and it takes a while before we notice she’s so poor she wears the same clothes in practically every scene. In the end, everything we need to know about her is evident in her stylish but shabby shoes.

The Package

A so-so 16:9 anamorphic transfer with significant print dirt, interlacing artifacts and black crush hurts Chi Ying Chan’s otherwise excellent cinematography. No complaint on the audio front: take your Cantonese in DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, or Dolby 2.0, with optional English subtitles. Subs are also provided for the director’s commentary track.

Aaahhh. Thought I’d never pass that t

The making-of documentary is basic back-patting stuff, but does provide glimpses of some novel HK production techniques. Director Law’s commentary provides some good insights, and also a couple of ridiculous rationalizations– a bad CG shot was intentional so we wouldn’t fear for the safety of the actors? Riiiight. The photo gallery is negligible. The trailer collection includes a terrific Oldboy advert. According to the box there’s a music video, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

"Put your pants back on, Threepio."

6 out of 10