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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "I kolasi den syghorei " )


directed by Kelvin Tong
Singapore 2005

Filipino maid Rosa (Alessandra de Rossi) arrives in Singapore to work as a maid for the Teos, a family of Chinese opera singers. She has arrived during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar when the gates of hell supposedly open and offerings are made to appease the dead. There is also a strict code of conduct to be followed during this time. Of course, Rosa is unaware of this and breaks several rules and unleashes supernatural forces upon herself. Will she suffer the same fate as the Teos' previous maid Esther who mysteriously disappeared? In the documentary, the producer says that he knew director Kelvin Tong's idea would be a "very good premise for an international film" and this is very much a film aimed at export audiences with its English-language credits, English narration (stilted as it is), and prologue full of voice-overs explaining what happens during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar (perhaps more effectively than Eduardo Sanchez's SEVENTH MOON) as well as its selling of prosperous Singapore (likely the input of Singapore's Media Development commission who co-produced). Advertised as the first homegrown horror movie from Singapore, THE MAID is beautifully assembled with gorgeous cinematography, scoring and surround sound design (instead of separate music and sound designers, we get a "music and effects" credit during the opening) but the scares are very familiar to fans of the new wave of Asian horror films following RINGU and JU-ON: THE GRUDGE. The scare scenes are never built up and neither their abruptness nor the stings of the music score help. The script is messy. There are some surprising although derivative reversals in the second half (although the script takes too long to bring Esther into the story) and something subversive about an immigrant isolated by strict local traditions and rules, the breaking of which actually make her privy to dark secrets beneath respectable (and tourist-friendly). An interesting diversion but the English performances are awkward and the pacing is hopelessly muddled.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 18 August 2005 (Malaysia)

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DVD Review: Tartan Video (Tartan Asian Extreme) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Tartan Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:24

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Mandarin/English/Tagalog DTS 5.1; Mandarin/English/Tagalog Dolby Digital 5.1; Mandarin/English/Tagalog Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• The Making of THE MAID (4:3; 22:29)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:53)

DVD Release Date: 12 September 2006

Chapters 12



The Tartan disc seems to compare well with the Singapore release which has the making-of and the trailer but only Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 options. The anamorphic, dual-layer transfer is unfortunately interlaced and the aspect ratio is incorrect. It appears that a non-anamorphic letterboxed image has been encoded in 16:9 resulting in a horizontally stretched image at 2.35:1 (references cite a 1.85:1 aspect ratio) so the shots of the moon and circular objects like traffic signals are ovals.

The DTS 5.1 track sounds only slightly more enveloping than the Dolby 5.1 track (both are well-mixed). A 2.0 downmix is also included along with English and Spanish subtitles (English subtitles would have been appreciated for the thick accents during the English language scenes). The 20+ minute making-of featurette features both English and Chinese burnt-in subtitles and the theatrical trailer is also subtitled.

Trailers for other Asia Extreme Tartan releases round out the package. The Tartan DVD is out of print but the remaining stock is carried by Palisades Tartan who bought the UK and US Tartan library (TLA may also have new copies) and affordable new and used copies may be found at Amazon.

  - Eric Cotenas


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interlacing artefacts


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Tartan Video

Region 1 - NTSC



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