Koma (2004)    1 Stars



Koma (2004)

Director: Chi-leung Law

Cast: Kar Yan Lam, Angelica Lee, Andy Hui Chi-on

Synopsis: Jealousy, desire, trust, and revenge. A complicated love triangle emerges during an investigation into the theft of a woman’s kidney.




This Hong Kong thriller is one of those films that is never quiet as clever as it tries to be. That’s not to say it doesn’t have some effective moments but, too often, plot twists are thrown at the viewer at the expense of logic. In one sequence, the heroine (Kar Yan Lam), a frail but wealthy young woman suffering from renal failure and terrorised by her boyfriend’s bit on the side (Angelica Lee) has a maybe-dream that sees an intruder cutting the phone line, tampering with a photograph then cutting the sleeping heroine with a knife. The heroine wakes up screaming, and then discovers that the phone line actually has been cut and the photo has been laid face down. While there are no cuts to her body, she looks in the bathroom mirror to discover that one of her teeth has been extracted while she slept. As if this wasn’t daft enough, the incident is never referred to again, even as a dream within a dream, (which presumably it is supposed to be). Stuff like that might give the director an opportunity to crank up the tension a notch or two, but if he’s going to sacrifice logic or continuity in order to do it you have to ask what is the point.

The story revolves around the urban myth about people waking up in a bathtub of ice to discover some cad has had it away with one of their kidneys. The victim here is a rather shapely lass who effortlessly captures our attention even though she, or perhaps, to be fair, the director, fails to communicate any of the real horror anyone would experience in her situation. The plot is quite neat at first, repeatedly wrong-footing the viewer by exploiting their assumptions but, as the film progresses, the twists grow increasingly silly. The heroine’s condition isn’t really made clear until about halfway through the movie, and the love/hate relationship between her and Ching (Lee) never really convinces. Technically, the film looks terrific in all areas, and the two female leads give good performances, it’s just the story that lets it down. The twist at the end is as unbelievable as it is unsuccessful, but by then we’ve long since realised we’re watching the type of flick that only flirts with reality as it strives to deliver a hammer-blow to the senses.